How to Remove a Sharpie Permanent Marker from a Basketball

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Key Takeaway: Persistent stains from sharpie permanent markers on basketballs can be effectively removed using household items like rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, a mixture of toothpaste and vinegar, dry erase markers, hand sanitizer, baking soda paste, lemon juice, or even peanut butter. The key is to act quickly and be patient in the cleaning process to increase the chances of success, as older stains may require repeated applications.

Most basketballs are either of rubber or synthetic material. In all cases, a sharpie permanent marker leaves a stubborn stain on a basketball. And if the stains have taken a long time, the more difficult it becomes to clear it. However, before you give up on the stained basketball, try the following tips;

8 Ways on How to Remove a Sharpie Permanent Marker from a Basketball

Using Rubbing Alcohol 

Rubbing alcohol can help remove sharpie permanent stain. You can use either isopropyl, vodka, or bourbon. If the stain is on a wide surface, consider using a paper towel or a clean absorbent cloth. Otherwise, a cotton ball will suffice on tiny marks. Soak the cotton ball, cloth, or paper towel on the rubbing alcohol. However, do not over-drench it with the solvent. Just dab the sharpie mark lightly, wait for a few seconds and then wipe away the traces of ink remaining.

Remember, the solvent evaporates very quickly. Also oversaturating the stain with the solvent will create a messy surface that’s even more difficult to clear off. Washing the surface with soapy water helps remove the vodka or bourbon from the basketball. Finally, use a towel to dry the surface completely.

Try Nail polish Remover

A nail polish removal also offers quick help on stubborn stains. An acetone-based nail polish remover is the right choice. Wet a piece of cloth with an acetone-based nail polish remover and place the rug over the stain on the basketball. Carefully rub the cloth on the stain with your hands in a circular pattern; persistence is the key to success here.

The stain should begin to clear and eventually come off. Lastly, use soapy water and a clean rug to tidy up the surface of the ball.

A Mixture of Toothpaste and Distilled Vinegar

If you can’t get the previously mentioned items, try a mixture of distilled vinegar and white toothpaste. The two are easy to get around the home. However, take note that the method requires a little bit of effort. Blend the two ingredients in a ratio of one to one. If you don’t have distilled vinegar, Lemon juice works as a substitute. Then apply the solution to the sharpie stain on the basketball. Using an old toothbrush, rub gently on the stain until it disappears.

Dry Erase Marker

If you don’t require more elbow grease, the dry erase marker is a viable method. A dry-erase marker is easy to get from local stores. Use it to mark every part of the stain. Then leave it for some seconds before wiping it off with a piece of cloth; the solvent in the dry erase mar marker works to loosen the stain.

Hand Sanitizer

Since the emergence of covid-19, most homes stock at least a hand sanitizer. It’s also one way to remove a sharpie permanent marker stain from a basketball. Apply the hand sanitizer on the stain and scrub gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Continue scrubbing for a while till the mark comes off completely. Then rinse and dry off the area with a soft cloth.

Baking Soda Paste

Baking soda helps remove a wide number of stains including permanent marker stains. Begin by mixing water and baking soda to make a thick paste. Then spread the paste on the stain ad leave the set up for about 8 to 10 minutes. After that, scrub the spot with an old toothbrush. Rinse the surface with clean water and dry with a rug. Leaving the paste on the basketball for longer duration may damage the ball.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is easy to come by in most homes. For a cheap and homemade solution for a sharpie marker, lemon juice is a viable method. Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice onto the stain. Gently rub the mark on the basketball with either a brush or just your fingers. Clear the excess liquid using a dry absorbent cloth. Allow the surface to dry and check if there are traces of the stain remaining. Repeat the procedure till the stain clears off.

Peanut Butter

One way to clear the sharpie permanent stain without tarnishing the basketball is to use peanut butter. The product has many uses in the kitchen and hence is easy to find in shops. The active ingredient is the oil from the nut. Take a little bit of peanut butter and spread it on the sharpie stain. After a few seconds, wipe it off using a sponge or a clean rug. Repeat if necessary.


A permanent marker stain isn’t easy to remove from any surface, basketball included. The above items boost your chances of cleaning the stubborn stain. Remember, the more recent the stain is, the higher the chances of success. It may force you to carry out any of the above procedures more than once.

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