How to Seal Sharpie on Plastic? – Only 4 Steps to Do

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

how to seal sharpie on plastic

Permanent markers, like sharpies, are commonly used for labeling and marking different materials. However, some surfaces, like plastic, can be quite challenging due to their glossy texture and slippery surface.

Sharpie markings on plastic surfaces tend to smudge, fade or chip off. So, to help you write on plastic permanently without having to deal with the smudgy mess, and the chipping off, here is a guide on how to seal sharpie on plastic.

How to Make Sharpie Stay on Plastic

Having to wait for Sharpie ink to completely dry, or having to deal with unwanted ink smears, can be equally inconvenient. Fortunately, you can avoid this mess with the help of home alternative sealants like clear nail polish, or mod podge along with this trusty how-to guide to walk you through. Read on!

Step 1: Gather the Tools You’ll Need

The following materials are what you’ll need to prepare to be able to follow this guide. No worries, these items are straightforward and easily found around your home.

  • Water and soap
  • Vinegar for cleaning (optional)
  • Soft, Clean Cloth
  • Oiled-based sharpie/ permanent marker
  • Clear Nail Polish or Mod Podge

The last tool which is clear nail polish or mod podge will serve as your home alternative sealant.

You can choose either of these two alternatives; just make sure to purchase the right type. In order to help you choose well, here are some tips:

  • Clear Nail Polish– As you want to optimize the sealing effect, choose quick-dry, gel-finish variants.

For the purpose of sealing sharpie writing on plastic, you’re better off with gel-finish clear polish, since they dry to form a thick coat without having to go through the additional process of light curing.

  • Mod Podge – There are various mod podge formulations, mostly depending on the type of finish. Matte, Glossy, Glitter, and Super Thick are some of the formulation variants.

When dealing with plastic surfaces, glossy and super thick formulations may be your best choice since they don’t affect the luster and appearance of the item.

Step 2: Clean the Surface


Similar to doing arts and crafts, the initial step to ensuring that you are able to keep sharpie on plastic, is to prepare the surface. Simply, this is done by cleaning the surface you will write on.

This step is crucial if you are going to write on surfaces that may have been exposed to grease or dirt.

The simple water and soap are good enough. Still, if your item needs some good cleaning, you may want to consider using vinegar or squeezed lemon juice as your cleaning agent.

Make sure to dry the surface with a clean cloth before moving to the next step.

Step 3: Create

With the surface clean and dry, you can now go ahead and proceed to the writing portion. At this point, you can better your chances of keeping permanent markers on plastic by using oil-based sharpie markers.

Because of their oil-based ink, these pens are better resistant to water and are known to be resistant to smudging and fading too. They are also quick drying, effectively reducing your waiting time.

The downside to these oil-based sharpies is if the item is meant to be exposed to grease and oil. If this is so, opt for regular permanent markers with alcohol-based ink instead.

Step 4: Seal the Written Area With A Sealant


As mentioned earlier, there are home alternative sealants that can be used as a protective layer over your marker writings. These home alternatives include nail polish and mod podge.

Use clear nail polish or top coat as a sealant

  • Step 1: Start off by making sure you let the sharpie ink dry first.
  • Step 2: Then, paint over the area in one clean stroke.
  • Step 3: You should wait for the clear polish to dry, and apply a second or even a third coat, as needed.

Use mod podge as a sealant

People who do arts and crafts are more familiar with mod podge; it works as both glue and varnish. When used as a sealant for sharpie writings on plastic, it can also serve as the final coat to ensure that the markings are all sealed in and resistant to smudging.

  • Step 1: First, make sure that the marker ink is dry.
  • Step 2: Then, using a clean paintbrush, apply a thin layer of mod podge in a side-to-side stroke.
  • Step 3: Once this first layer is completely dry, you can go ahead and apply a second layer, this time, in up-down strokes. Doing so results in a smooth finish for your top coat.
  • Step 4: Create a cleaner output by using mod podge brushes since they have thinner and stronger bristles. This will help you avoid streaky finishes and stray bristles as you go.

When your sealant has dried, you’re all done!

Recommendation: Sand the Surface

As mentioned, what makes it difficult to seal paint pens on plastic is because of the smooth and slippery surface. For this reason, others find it helpful to lightly sand the surface using fine-grain sandpaper to create a more roughed-up surface.

Other people opt out of this step, however, because they find it damaging to their item. It’s totally up to you if you want to include this step in the process.


Whether it’s writing with sharpie on plastic cups for an art project or organizing your pantry by labeling your jars and containers, hopefully, this guide was able to help you find the answers to the question: how to seal sharpie on plastic.

Make sure to keep clear nail polish, mod podge, and this guide within reach for the next time you may need it.

Get to writing! Cheers!

Read more other topics related to sharpie markers:

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