How can you revive whiteboard dry-erase markers?

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How to revive a whiteboard dry-erase marker pen

Do your dry-erase markers for your whiteboard seem to last only a few months before they dry out and become useless?

If you’re tired of buying new whiteboard pens ones all the time, you’ve probably wondered: Is there some way to juice these dry erase pens back up?

Yes, a dried-out dry-erase marker sounds like an oxymoron. But if you’re standing in front of a bunch of kids in a classroom, or just trying to draw a cat for your favorite preschooler, you’ll know that having a pen that won’t work can be inconvenient and annoying.

How to make your whiteboard dry-erase markers colorful and moist

So how can you refresh, revive and otherwise reinvigorate your handy whiteboard markers? We have five solutions for you, presented in order from easy to the more complicated.

1) Put the cap securely on your marker, and store the pen tip-down for at least 24 hours. Gravity should help drive any remaining ink downwards.

2) Solidly cap your pen, then tape a string to the bottom of your dry-erase marker and spin it around like a lasso. You’re using physics to help resuscitate your pen: centrifugal force will drive what’s left of the ink to the tip of the pen.

Depending on how dry the marker is, you will need anywhere from a few swings to a lot more. Check it every few swings, and watch for ink drips! (Also be sure the secured top of the dry-erase is on the far end, or else you’ll instead force the lingering ink to the bottom of the marker.)

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3) With a pair of pliers, gently remove the marker’s tip and turn it around. This should give you ink to use right away, and hopefully revive the pen’s flow.

Many of these pens are double-ended so you can choose a bullet point or a chisel tip. If it’s completely clogged up with old dry ink, soak it in plain water for a few hours then wash clean under the tap. Re-prime as for new pens, and you’re ready to go.


4) If your marker is not water-based, briefly dab the pen’s tip in isopropyl alcohol (alternatively acetone or plain nail polish remover). Cover and store bottom-down to let the solvent soak in before using.

This is an adults-only job, and be sure to have appropriate ventilation. Also, after using an additive like the acetone, be sure to test the marker in an inconspicuous place on your whiteboard to be sure it doesn’t damage anything.

5) With some needle-nose pliers, open the bottom of the non-water-based pen, and add a few drops of acetone or nail polish remover to the ink chamber. (Get more details on using this method to revive dead dry-erase markers here.) Again, test the marker in an inconspicuous place on your to be sure it doesn’t damage your whiteboard, or harm the shiny surface.

Care and feeding of dry-erase markers

So how can you keep your whiteboard markets happy? First, always cap your pen tightly when not in use. Then, the Expo markers site suggests storing dry-erase pens horizontally. Finally, use these markers only on whiteboards — don’t use them on paper.

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One last reminder: If kids are using these markers, or are nearby, water-based dry-erase pens would be the safest bet.

Some tips provided by Ian McAllister, via Myria.com