Reviving Dried-Up Markers

Isopropyl alcohol to the rescue, again! I used alcohol in order to bring my dried-up Copic and Prismacolor markers back to life. Also used a measuring syringe, pliers, cotton pads and some swabs.

I've been avoiding my old Prismacolor markers because every time I sat down to do some colouring, I would encountered a dried our nib. As it turned out, half of my markers were looking like this. The fine-pointed side of the marker was often the dried out side. In some cases, the line wasn't visible at all. These things aren't cheap, so to toss them would be heart-breaking.

But here's hope!

The mess I made

Step 1 - Gather the supplies

  • 99% isopropyl alcohol
  • needle nose pliers
    • make sure they are CLEAN before starting
  • small measuring syringe
    • found at drugstore near ear and eye cleaning supplies
  • small liquid-proof tray
    • pulled an old screw container from the recycling)
  • cotton swabs
  • napkins
  • paper
  • surface that you don't mind getting a little dirty

Step 2 - Identify the markers that need reviving.

finding the dried-up markers I quickly went through each marker and tested both sides on some scrap paper, setting aside the markers that would require some surgery.

Step 3 - Ready the isopropyl alcohol in the measuring syringe.

Don't make the mistake I made, get the alcohol ready inside of the syringe before we open up the first marker. Most of us only have two hands, max.

99 percent is what I got The alcohol is 99%? Great, though I'm not sure if it would make much difference if you used 97%.

loading up the syringe Load about 2ml into the syringe, depending on how dried out the marker is. Instead of trying to pull the liquid directly from the bottle, I first poured the alcohol into the little container, then sucked it up. For markers that were seemingly totally dried out, I put in about 2.5ml. For markers that looked like they only needed a top up, I put in about 1ml. If you're not sure, then I recommend putting in about 1ml at a time.

Step 4 - Open up the marker.

opening the marker with pliers On the thick side of the marker, I used my CLEANED pair of pliers to gently squeeze around the tip. Try to get a feel for the minimum amount of pressure need to grip the tip. Too strong and it'll crush the tip. Once the tip is removed, set it down on a (disposable) surface. Perhaps another item from you recycling bin, like an old lid. Recommend using something waterproof, as paper would only suck alcohol from your already dried-up tip.

Step 5 - Inject alcohol and put the tip back on

operation complete Pickup your alcohol-loaded syringe and slowly inject into the plastic body of the marker. If you're loading more than 1ml, do a bit at a time, giving the alcohol time to soak in, before injecting more. Once it's all loaded up, you can put the tip back on. I used the pliers to place the tip back onto the body of the marker, but firmly seated the tip in by pressing it in using a napkin and my fingers, so I had a firm grip.

Step 6 - Let it sit and soak

compare results Re-tested the markers and compared the before & after results. I took the markers that still looked a little dry, removed the tips and dipped them into the alcohol for a few seconds and scrubbed them with an alcohol soaked cotton swab. After sitting for a few days, the mega-dried-up markers ended up looking as good as new! Tuscan Red and True Blue look like new now! Incredible results, considering how they looked before. given days to soak it up


clean the teeth of the pliers The squeeze that you will be giving the marker tip will probably release quiet a bit of pigment onto your pliers, so make sure and wipe your pliers down with some alcohol before you move onto the next marker. It'll prevent you from mixing the inks and messing up your pigments.

Cap cleaning

clean your caps with the cotton swabs In some cases, the caps to the markers were messy, so I used the cotton swabs for this as well. Might as well do this big of house cleaning while we have our supplies out.