Why Does Dry Erase Marker Remove Sharpie? Find Out Here!

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

why does dry erase marker remove sharpie

Do you ever get a Sharpie permanent marker on your dry-erase board and wonder how to remove it?

Every time you try to erase it, the Sharpie gets smeared and doesn’t come off. Well, there’s a reason for that, and it has to do with the science behind dry-erase and permanent markers.

It turns out that these markers are made of different kinds of ink. Dry-erase markers use water-based ink, while permanent markers use oil-based ink. But it also answers the question, why does a dry-erase marker remove Sharpie on a dry-erase board?

There is a solvent in the ink of a dry-erase marker, and it (the solvent) can dissolve the pigments of a permanent marker.

The Science Behind It


As we have mentioned briefly in the introduction, the “star player” behind a dry-erase marker’s ability to act as a permanent marker eraser is the solvent.

So, to fully grasp how the solvent allows a dry-erase marker to remove permanent marker ink, we must first understand what a solvent is and how it works.

1. Solvent in dry-erase marker

By definition, a solvent is a substance that dissolves or dilutes another substance (and this other substance is usually referred to as a solute). In a dry-erase marker, the solvent can be ethanol or isopropanol, which are alcohol-based.

Essentially, a solvent is something that dissolves something else. And that “something else” can be permanent marker ink.

2. Solvent dissolves marker ink

When you apply a solvent to permanent marker ink, it fades away with a wipe.

Therefore, when you use a dry-erase marker, which contains a solvent, to trace over the markings of a permanent marker, the solvent in the dry-erase marker ink dissolves the ink of the permanent marker. Then, when you clean the surface, the permanent marker ink is lifted off along with the dry-erase marker ink.

To reiterate, the whole process happens like this:

  • The permanent marker adheres to a surface, such as a whiteboard
  • You trace over the permanent marker with a dry-erase marker
  • The solvent from the dry-erase marker meets the permanent marker ink and dissolves it
  • You clean the surface, lifting the dry-erase marker ink and the now-dissolved permanent ink off
  • Your surface is cleared. There is no dry-erase marker ink or permanent marker ink left

That being said, you can use a dry-erase marker to remove Sharpie or a similar permanent marker from surfaces, like from plastic and from white boards.

When you try to get rid of Sharpie with a dry erase marker, you are basically using the latter for its dry erase marker solvent. The other components that a dry-erase marker is made of (i.e., color pigments and polymer) do not matter.

How Does a Dry-erase Marker Work?

The three main components of a dry-erase marker are color pigments, a chemical solvent, and a polymer, also dubbed a ‘release solution’.

  • Color pigments are what give dry-erase markers their color.
  • The solvent is non-polar and is what transports the dry-erase marker’s ink.
  • The polymer is why the dry-erase marker’s ink can stick to a surface.

Unlike permanent markers, which have an acrylic polymer allowing the color pigments to stick to surfaces, dry-erase markers have an oily silicone polymer.

This difference is what makes the ink of dry-erase markers erasable.

In detail, the oily nature of the polymer makes the ink slippery and keeps it from contacting the surface that it is used on.

So, how do these components work together?

Inside a marker, the color pigments and polymer form the ink. When you uncap your dry-erase marker and put a line down on the paper, the solvent carries the ink through the marker and to your paper’s surface.

The solvent evaporates when the ink is on your paper, leaving just the ink. Since the polymer is not acrylic but an oily silicone, it can be wiped off easily.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What components of a dry-erase marker allows for dry-erase marker removal?

As explained above, the oily silicone polymer makes dry-erase marker ink erasable. This is different from permanent markers, which use an acrylic polymer, as it makes the ink slippery and prevents it from coming into contact with a surface.

Is a dry-erase marker the same as a whiteboard marker?

Yes! Dry-erase markers are the same as whiteboard markers. The two names are typically used interchangeably. And by the same token, dry-erase marker boards are the same as whiteboards.

Are Sharpie erasable markers?

Sharpies are marketed as permanent markers. But here, “permanent” is still removable. You can apply a solvent to Sharpie ink to erase it from the surface. An example of a solvent for this purpose is rubbing alcohol.

Can Sharpie make dry-erase markers permanent?

If you work in reverse and use Sharpie over dry-erase marker ink on a surface, you might still be able to erase the dry-erase marker ink. However, you will leave the permanent marker ink on the surface. So, then, you will need to use a solvent to remove it.

Can you use wet-erase markers on a dry-erase board?

Yes. It is possible to use wet-erase markers on dry-erase boards. But to remove them from such boards, you will need to use something wet, like a cloth or paper towel.

What can you use instead of a dry-erase marker for permanent marker removal?

Based on the mechanism explained above, it is not the dry-erase marker that enables the erasing but the solvent in the marker. Thus, you can simply use a solvent on its own or another material that contains a solvent. For example, nail polish removers, which consist of acetone (the solvent) or hand sanitizer, have alcohol.

Are Sharpies bad for your skin?

Check this article to know!

Read more: The most effective methods to remove dry easy marker from:


As you can see, the answer to “Why does a dry-erase marker remove Sharpie?” is not as complicated as you might think. Dry-erase markers contain solvents that can dissolve the ink of permanent markers. Thus, by going over permanent marker ink with a dry-erase marker, you can lift the former from surfaces.

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