How to Make Sharpies Work Again

How to Make Sharpies Work Again

Sharpie markers are fantastic for art projects and taking notes, however, permanent markers are also known for drying out sooner than we hope for. You may be pleased to know that there are several ways that you can revive your Sharpie markers ink. 

This post outlines the best step-by-step processes to revive the ink in your Sharpie markers so that you can maximise them until they truly run out. 

Rubbing Alcohol-Based Fix

The rubbing alcohol method is a quick fix to revive a dried Sharpie. For the best results, use either isopropyl alcohol or ethanol rubbing alcohol as they bring dried ink back to life the best.

One of the ways to use rubbing alcohol to revive a dried-out Sharpie ink is to pour some of the solutions from the alcohol bottle into a small bowl. Remove the lid of your Sharpie and dip the tip of the marker into the solution.

Soak the tip in the solution for around a minute before removing it and shaking it gently to remove any excess liquid. For thicker tips, you can let it sit longer compared to thinner marker tips.

A second method with the same technique to this that works similarly involves using nail polish remover. This is because nail polish remover contains alcohol which can force ink out of your fine-tipped Sharpie.


If you have white vinegar in your cupboards, you can put it to good use to revive a dried-out Sharpie. 

  • Pour a small amount of vinegar into a bowl. 
  • Remove the marker cap and dip it in and out of the vinegar 10 times.
  • Be sure not to hold the marker tip in the vinegar for long as it can ruin the ink. (You can let the tip soak for longer with thicker Sharpies).
  • Grab some paper towels and leave the marker to dry for a few hours.
  • Once the excess vinegar has dried, you can test the marker out. Be sure to put the cap back on after!

You can also add the solution to an injection. Injecting liquid into the tip of your pen can be effective for getting out the little ink that remains.


If you don’t have vinegar or rubbing alcohol, warm water is your next best option. 

  • Boil some water and leave it to cool down for a few minutes in a small container or bowl.
  • Remove the cap from your Sharpie and dip the tip into the water.
  • Leave it in the water for five minutes. 
  • Remove the Sharpie and shake off any excess water. You can also lay it on a dry paper towel until the water is gone. 
  • Test the pen out on a piece of paper to see if the process worked. 


Sharpie markers are great for writing and drawing and it can be frustrating when the ink runs out quicker than you expected. However, there may be more ink inside the pen for you to continue using, meaning that you have a perfectly good Sharpie at hand.

Use the different methods mentioned in this post to revive your old Sharpie marker. You could implement these tips to get a little more ink out of your existing pens whilst you wait for a new pack to arrive.


How to prevent dried-out markers?

If your Sharpie dries out too quickly, it could be because you’ve been leaving the marker uncapped. Making sure that you put the cap back on the pen when you’re finished prevents a dried-out tip.

When storing your marker felt tips make sure they stay upright. Using a pencil cup is a simple trick that maintains new Sharpies so that they provide you with more future use. This works for Sharpies and other brands.

You may also want to consider using an ink pad. This keeps ink running in your pen so that it lasts longer.

How to know if your marker is on its way out?

One of the easiest ways to tell if your Sharpie is on its way out is to smell it. If it has a strong smell, it means there’s plenty of ink flowing inside. If the smell is weak or non-existent, it may mean that you need to fix a dried pen.

You can also test the pen on non-porous surfaces. If it’s working perfectly, then you don’t need to worry about how to revive dried-out Sharpies.

Alcohol based ink vs water based markers, which is best?

This is down to personal preference and what the intended use is. Often it is a case of trying both to see which gives the best results for the material you’re working on.

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Written By Adam Rushton

Adam has made a name for himself in the illustration industry and is a passionate blogger and writer on the subject of art, illustration and graphic design.

His artwork has been featured in countless publications and used for very well-known media projects. As a professional illustrator for over 20 years, Adams media outlets, a wealth of knowledge, and experience enable him to consult and advise artists and illustrators in this country (from York and Manchester to Southampton and London) and all over the world.