Sharpies vs Fabric Markers – Similarities and Differences

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

sharpies vs fabric markers

When it comes to marking up fabrics, there are only a few options available: Sharpies and fabric markers. But which is better?

Read through this blog post on Sharpies vs fabric markers to learn the similarities and differences and choose between the two. We will look at the ink, fabric compatibility, ease of use, durability, color range, shape and size range, and cost. Read on!

Fabric Marker vs Sharpie Sharpies Fabric Markers
The Ink

– Permanent ink only

– Permanent ink and washable ink
Fabric Compatibility – Not specifically made for fabric use – Specifically made for fabric use
Ease of Use – May bleed
– May snag
– Bleed-proof
– Glide easily
Durability – Can fade or discolor with frequent washing – Waterproof
Color Range – Available in many colors (more extensive than fabric markers) – Available in many colors
Shape & Size Range – Available in many shapes and sizes – Available in many shapes and sizes
Cost – Fairly inexpensive – Tend to be pricier

Sharpies and Fabric Markers: An Overview


Sharpie is the first permanent marker in pen style introduced in 1964 by the Sanford Company. It later became a brand name and was acquired by Newell Companies, now Newell Rubbermaid. Since then, it has expanded to selling other writing tools, like highlighters.

Although there are other brands of permanent markers available on the market, Sharpie is the most well-recognized. In fact, it is often used as a synonym for these tools.

Fabric markers refer to pens that are specially made for fabric use. They are offered by many brands, such as Arteza, Crafts 4 All, Crazy Colors, etc. Fabric markers can also be called laundry markers.

Sharpies and fabric markers are similar in some ways and different in others.

Sharpies and Fabric Markers: A Detailed Comparison

The Ink


Sharpies have permanent ink that adheres to most surfaces and are waterproof. The classic ones with black ink contain alcohol solvents and ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, while the ones that are colored do not consist of glycol ethers. Other characteristics of Sharpies include resistance to fading and quick drying time.

Unlike Sharpies, you have the luxury of choice with fabric markers. They feature either permanent or washable ink. The latter cannot resist water, so it is sometimes also referred to as a wash-out fabric marker. It especially comes in handy when you are making temporary marks, like sewing guides and templates.

Usage or Compatibility With Fabric


Sharpies work on fabric, but they are not originally designed to be used on such material. These pens are better on wood, glass, plastic, etc. As such, we do not recommend choosing to use Sharpie markers on fabric.

Meanwhile, fabric pens are excellent for canvas, cotton, burlap, wool, and even denim. They are the ideal choice for customizing clothes.

Ease Of Use

Sharpies are not difficult to use. However, they are not as optimal for fabric as fabric markers, which glide more smoothly on clothing.

For example, when you are making large, long strokes with a Sharpie, they can break off mid-way because the tip is snagged. Then, you will have to go through the trouble of correcting the strokes, surely wasting both time and effort. Your work will also not look as nice.


When you use Sharpies on fabric, they can bleed and ruin the material. In addition, they can discolor and fade when washed. Therefore, in terms of compatibility with fabric, fabric markers are the clear winners.

Because they are formulated for textile use, manufacturers already expect them to be washed, and so, they ensure that the markers are excellent at resisting water.

Color Range


Sharpies are available in up to 115 different colors, including metallics, neons, cosmic tones, etc. Similarly, fabric markers come in a lot of colors.

How extensive a selection is, however, depends on the brand that you are purchasing from. Some brands offer limited options, while some offer much more. 40 is the common limit, however.

Shape & Size Range


We can get Sharpies in fine, ultra fine, chisel, mixed, brush, and twin tips, and in pack sizes from 1 to 24 pcs. So, you have plenty of options. These allow you to be even more creative in your designs.

Fabric markers are just like Sharpies in this regard. They are also available in various shapes and sizes. But the number of options available varies from brand to brand.

For example, Arteza offers fine, ultra fine, chisel, and dual tips in sets of six to 36, while Crayola only has fine line fabric markers in sets of ten.

Price Range


Sharpies are fairly inexpensive. You can get a fine point set with 12 color counts for less than $10. Fabric markers tend to be a bit costlier, though the specific price tag can be influenced by various factors, like the brand and formulation.

Here are a few price samples for your reference:

  • Arteza Fine & Ultra Fine Dual-Tip Fabric Markers (Set of 30): $27.99
  • Crazy Colors Bullet & Chisel Dual Tip Fabric Markers (Set of 20): $14.99
  • Super Markers Waterproof Fabric Markers (Set of 20): $10.99
  • Tulip Assorted Color Fabric Markers (Set of 15): $29.18
  • Prang Decor Brush Tip Fabric Markers (Set of 6): $10.00

Sharpies and Fabric Markers: Pros and Cons



  • Fairly inexpensive
  • Available in a wide range of colors, tips, and sizes
  • Come in permanent ink only
  • Can bleed on fabrics
  • Are not designed to glide easily on textiles

Fabric Markers

  • Come in two types of ink
  • Bleedproof and waterproof
  • Glide easily on fabrics
  • Tend to be more expensive
  • Some brands have a limited selection of colors, shapes, and sizes

Frequently Asked Questions


Do Sharpies work the same as fabric markers?

Sharpies deposit ink just like fabric markers. However, they are not designed to glide as easily on such material. So, compared to fabric markers, you might not be able to make strokes as smooth with Sharpies.

Is a Sharpie permanent on fabric?

Are Sharpies permanent on fabric? Even though a Sharpie delivers permanent ink, it is not originally formulated for fabric use, and can thus, fade with frequent washing.

What is the best marker to use on fabric?

One should use fabric markers from reputable brands such as Arteza, Crafts 4 All, Crazy Colors, Super Markers, Prang Decor, and Tulip.

Can I use permanent marker on fabric?

Yes. Permanent marker ink will show up just fine on fabric. Compared to other types of markers, they are less likely to wash off. However, because they are not specifically designed for fabric use, they can bleed.

Are fabric markers permanent?

There are permanent fabric markers. But not all fabric markers are permanent. You can also find washable or wash-out fabric markers on the market.

Are there Sharpie fabric markers?

Yes. Amongst all types of Sharpies, there are also fabric markers. These are only available in brush tips, but they come in 8 colors, including the standard black fabric marker.

Sharpie on fabric remove tips?

You can use rubbing alcohol to remove permanent marker ink from clothes. The instructions are simple: pour the alcohol on the stain and dab it until the pigment disappears, then wash the fabric with a laundry detergent.

Are laundry and fabric markers the same? What is a laundry marker used for?

Laundry markers and fabric markers are names used interchangeably. A laundry marker is often used for labeling clothes during a wash. It helps avoid mix-ups when sorting apparel.

That being said, this blog post can also be titled laundry marker vs Sharpie!


Now, you know all the similarities and differences of Sharpies vs fabric markers. Your decision should be easier to make. Sharpies are easy to get and easy to use. They also won’t break your bank. However, compared to fabric markers, they might not glide as smoothly on textiles. They can bleed and fade with frequent washes, as well.

Think about the aspects that matter most to you when making marks on fabrics. Then, take your pick! Let us know the winner in the comments down below.


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