How to Get Permanent Marker Off a Doll Without Damaging It

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

how to get permanent marker off a doll

If you have ever had to try to get permanent markers off of a doll, you know that it can be a tricky process.

Some methods work better than others, and we will show you them in this guide. Read on to learn how to get permanent marker off a doll without damaging it.

Different Ways to Get Sharpie Off a Doll

1. From a plastic doll


 Option #1 Using Acetone


One solvent that you can use to clean a plastic baby doll is acetone. It is an affordable option that is also pretty easy to find. If you do not already have it at home, visit the nearest drugstore. You can also use a nail polish remover.

What you will need to have

    • Acetone or nail polish remover
    • Some Q-tips or cotton swabs
    • Bowl
    • Rag

What you will need to do

To get permanent markers off dolls skin, you just need to pour some acetone or nail polish remover into a bowl or similar container. Then, dip a Q-tip or cotton swab in the solution, and use it to work off the ink.

Depending on the shape and size of the stain, use circular rubbing motions or go in a single direction. The latter is recommended to avoid further smudging and smearing any Sharpie.

Your Q-tip or cotton swab will absorb the ink and fade the stain. When it becomes too dirty, change to a new one. Simply repeat the process until you removed all the marks.

To complete, wipe the spots you have treated with a wet rag. This ensures that no acetone or nail polish remover is left on your doll.

Note: If you are using this method to clean a Barbie face, be careful not to get acetone or nail polish remover on the details, like the eyes, nose, and lips, as the solvent can erase them too.

If you find yourself in a bind without acetone, consider this next method.

 Option #2 Using a Magic Eraser


A magic eraser can get Sharpie off plastic toys, and plastic dolls are no exception. You can get one from Mr. Clean online or offline. The brand is very well-known, so you should have no problems finding an eraser.

What you will need

    • A magic eraser
    • A rag

What you will need to do

First, activate the eraser by running it under water. Next, use the eraser like a sponge against the permanent marker stain.

Apply gentle pressure and use circular rubbing motions. You can use the edges for the small parts of your doll, like the hands, legs, etc.

Finally, wipe the doll clean with a wet rag.

2. From a fabric doll


 Option #1 Using a Washing Machine


What you will need to have

    • A washing machine
    • Laundry detergent

What you will need to do

It is possible to remove stains on dolls in the wash. But this can do more harm than good for some dolls. So, you must ensure that your toy can be used in the washing machine. Look for its care tag and examine the instructions.

Only proceed with this method if your doll is machine-washable. You can consider using mild laundry detergent and a gentle setting for peace of mind.

 Option #2 Using Rubbing Alcohol


What you will need to have

    • Rubbing alcohol
    • Some cotton pads or balls

What you will need to do

Similar to acetone, rubbing alcohol is a solvent that can help clean dolls. You should be able to find it at local drugstores for an affordable price.

Saturate a cotton pad or cotton ball with some alcohol. Next, press the soaked pad or ball against the permanent marker stain. Hold it in position for a couple of seconds. The rubbing alcohol will seep into the doll and loosen up the ink molecules.

As you pull the ball or pad away, the color will be lifted along with it. If the ink does not disappear completely, you can consider trying the method below.

 Option #3 Using Hydrogen Peroxide & Soapy Water


What you will need to have

    • Hydrogen peroxide
    • Soapy water
    • Some cotton pads or balls
    • Two rags
    • Container

What you will need to do

Pour some hydrogen peroxide into a bowl or similar container and dip a cotton pad or ball into it. When the pad or ball is well-doused, use it to rub the permanent marker stain. Do this several times to lift as much of the ink as possible.

Then, apply soapy water to a rag and scrub the spot with it. Once the ink is gone, blot your doll dry with another rag. Make sure you use a clean one.

3. From a vinyl doll or reborn doll


 Option #1 Mineral Spirits


You can remove permanent marker from vinyl doll with mineral spirits.

What you will need to have

    • Mineral spirits
    • Two rags

What you will need to do

Wet a rag with some mineral spirit. Then, use the rag to rub off the permanent marker stain on your doll. Use circular motions and add more mineral spirit to the rag as you work on the marks.

However, avoid oversaturating the rag to minimize the mess you will have to clean up afterward. Rub until the ink stain disappears completely.

You can wrap up by giving your doll a wipe-down with a wet cloth.

 Option #2 Using Toothpaste & Lemon


A DIY paste with toothpaste and lemon can help you remove permanent marker from plastic toys and vinyl.

What you will need to have

    • Warm water
    • Toothpaste
    • Lemon juice
    • A rag
    • A toothbrush (Optional)

What you will need to do

To start, mix warm water, toothpaste, and lemon juice in a bowl or similar container. Enlist the help of a spoon to make sure everything is well-combined.

Next, load the mixture onto a rag. Use the rag to apply it to the permanent marker stain. Check that it covers the ink completely.

Then, start scrubbing and scouring. The rag should be sufficient. But if you want something more abrasive, grab a clean toothbrush. Continue until the permanent marker ink is gone.

Wipe the treated spot clean to finish.

4. From a porcelain doll


 Option #1 Using Baking Soda & Water

What you will need to have

    • Baking soda
    • Water
    • A toothbrush, rag, or sponge
    • A rag

What you will need to do

Start by making a paste with baking soda and water. Once you have it, apply it to the permanent marker stain using a toothbrush, rag, or sponge.

If the spot that needs treating is small or narrow, we recommend using a toothbrush. Otherwise, a rag or sponge will be better.

Rub the ink gently to work off the colors. Continue doing this until your doll is cleaned. During the process, feel free to make and apply more of the baking soda and water paste. Afterward, spot-clean the doll with a new rag.

 Option #2 Using Bug Spray


This might come as a surprise, but you can get pen off a doll with bug spray!

What you will need to have

    • Bug spray
    • Some Q-tips or cotton swabs
    • A rag
    • Soap

What you will need to do

Spritz a small amount of bug spray on a Q-tip or cotton swab, and use that to rub the permanent marker stain on your doll. Take the time to rub thoroughly, and spritz more bug spray along the way if necessary.

When your doll is clear, simply give it a wipe down with a soapy wet rag.

Read more: Ways to remove permanent marker from porcelain.

Other Tips for Cleaning Dolls

Tip #1 – Choose Your Cleaning Tools Carefully

Cleaning dolls, like a Cabbage Patch Doll or an American Girl Doll, requires you to be a bit more attentive than cleaning other toys. This is because they have many painted details that you can potentially erase in the process if you are not careful. You must be extra careful when applying the methods above to get rid of stains.

A part of this is choosing the appropriate cleaning tools. If your toy is small and marked up with a lot of intricate details in the nooks and crannies, you should use a Q-tip or cotton swab instead of a cotton ball, pad, or sponge.

On the other hand, if the stains you are dealing with are large and in open spaces, you can use cleaning tools with bigger surface areas to save time and effort.

Tip #2 – Mix & Match Cleaning Methods

Sometimes, one method is insufficient to remove permanent marker stains on your dolls. But combining two or three options can get the job done. So, it is important to be flexible.

You can apply one approach to lift most of an ink stain, then get rid of the remaining with another technique. For example, after laundering your fabric toy in the washing machine, you can spot-clean any visible traces with rubbing alcohol.


Now, you know how to get permanent marker off a doll. Go ahead and get pen off baby Annabell! There are many methods you can try. Depending on your stain, you might have to apply several. Let us know how the cleaning goes in the comments down below!

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