If you’ve been doodling since before you could form full sentences, chances are you have a range of markers and felt tips lying around your home. Somehow these drawing companions breed in my studio space, and I seem to have a small army of Copics, Sharpies, and Touch markers constantly within arm’s reach. These markers tend to dry out before they fully die out, and it can be frustrating and expensive to keep replacing struggling tools.
This tutorial covers two different techniques for reviving water-based markers as well as non-water soluble or paint markers. The first method uses submersion in water to try and invigorate dried out ink that is sitting where the marker felt (or fibre) meets the inner tube ink cartridge. The second method uses vinegar to try and dab at the markers’ ink to break through built up and dried out marker debris inside the top of the tip.
You can usually tell if your marker is water-based by reading the label, otherwise often non-water based markers have an overwhelming sharp chemical smell that gives them away.
Start by sorting through your markers and checking their status. If any markers are clearly beyond repair and are totally dried out, chuck them in the bin. When the tip of a marker has totally dried out, or feels like it’s fossilised when touching paper, it’s probably beyond the point of repair. This exercise is to save your markers before they get to that point.
When you’re done ensure all the caps and lids are fitted snugly back on your markers.
You can see in the photo below how little of the marker tip needs to be in contact with vinegar to be effective. Work slowly and gently to make sure you don’t accidentally drown your marker in vinegar.
Another method I ended up using was flicking some drops of vinegar directly onto a chopping board (or any other work surface) and rolling the tips of my green marker in the vinegar. This eliminated any accidental submersion and gave me more control over how much vinegar I let onto my marker.
Lastly, come back the next day and see the results of your work. This is my water-based marker the day after the water submersion method and it’s bought it back to life.