How to Revive a Sharpie – 3 Top Tips

We all love Sharpies but sometimes when they have been left a while they just stop working. Don’t worry in this guide we are going to show you how to revive a dried out Sharpie.

Following our tips, you should be able to get more ink out of a Sharpie that has dried up or even an old sharpie that you found lying around. so that it will work again back to life.

When a Sharpie marker or any other alcohol-based permanent marker dries up it usually still has ink in the reservoir; the tip has just dried out and lost its absorbency. Here are my 3 top tips on what to do when your Sharpie dries up.

How to Revive a Dried-Up Sharpie

The most common solution to rehydrate a dried up Sharpie: And other markers that use alcohol-based ink, add rubbing alcohol (surgical spirit in the UK).

Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Method 1 – Dip the Tip in Rubbing Alcohol

I found the simplest instructions for reviving a Sharpie by Karen on her website The Art of Doing Stuff.

Reviving a Sharpie

The instructions were to pour a bit of rubbing alcohol into a bottle cap, then place the tip of the dried Sharpie in the alcohol.  Leave it long enough to see a ribbon of ink flowing out.

Then recap the marker and let it sit for 15 minutes.

The idea is that leaving the marker uncapped allowed all the alcohol to evaporate from the porous tip, causing the dried ink to clog it up. Adding alcohol rehydrates the ink and loosens it up, and the porous tip once again draws ink down from the reservoir. Did you know that because a Sharpie like a lot of other alcohol-based markers can fade especially when exposed to sunlight.

When I first tried, I didn’t have any rubbing alcohol, but I did have a whole box of alcohol pads. Long story short, about 50 alcohol pads later, my Sharpie returned more or less to life, but didn’t work as well as it had. Probably would have had a much better result using actual rubbing alcohol.

I have since tried rubbing alcohol and got much better results with an old Sharpie that I found in a drawer. Rubbing alcohol is also used to remove Sharpie from plastic surfaces as well as rehydrating them.

There are more complicated ways to rehydrate a dried out Sharpie.

1.2 Method 2 – Take the Sharpie Apart & Add Rubbing Alcohol

Crazy Russian Hacker shows in this video how you can fix a dry sharpie marker pen by removing the ink reservoir from the barrel, then add alcohol 4ml at a time using a dropper.

1.3 Method 3 – Inject Rubbing Alcohol into the Tip

How to Fix a Dried up Sharpie

Another technique I’ve seen people recommend on how to make a Sharpie work again is to stand a Sharpie point up and use a syringe to inject alcohol directly into the tip.

If you try either one of those methods, just remember to add alcohol a little bit at a time until the marker starts working again. Too much alcohol will completely dilute the ink and you could end up with a mess.

Also, be careful of your fingers when using pliers or needles.

How to Fix a Dried-up Sharpie Without Rubbing Alcohol

A Sharpie markers ink is usually made from a combination of mainly alcohol and perchrome ink. That is why nearly all the tutorials recommend using a bit of alcohol to fix a dried up Sharpie by topping it up. 

If you don’t have any alcohol and want to know how to fix a dried-up sharpie without rubbing alcohol. If you think it may be just the tip that has dried out you can try soaking it in water but if it is nearly empty then this will not work.

(Others have suggested using vinegar or fingernail polish remover – acetone – but I don’t know how effective that is).

Photo of author

Tony Bridges

As a seasoned journalist and freelance writer, I've spent over three decades telling stories and exploring the world through the written word. With a passion for writing instruments, I found my niche at The Pen Vibe, a blog that shares our collective fascination with pens, pencils, and other tools that have shaped the art of writing.

6 thoughts on “How to Revive a Sharpie – 3 Top Tips”

  1. Permanent markers can be revived in four different methods. These techniques can be used to recover either a broad or fine point Sharpie as long as your pen is alcohol-based.

  2. Where possible I have carefully dismantled a Sharpie marker to get to its slender and padded barrel like tube inside it. .Then using a small syringe, I gently inject about 3 to 5 ml. of the rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover deep into the padding . One time, I mistakenly injected a tiny volume of hydrogen peroxide instead! The little said about this disaster, the better….. for what I ended with was struggling to read writing that was totally invisible!


Leave a Comment