How to Keep Permanent Marker on Plastic

keep permanent marker on plastic

When you use any plastic piece, bucket, decal, hose, rim or anything that has plastic on it or is made of 100% plastic—keeping a permanent marker stay on its surface for a long time can be a challenge—especially from it getting regular wear, fingers touching it, weather or anything coming into contact with the marker.

It can get tricky, but it can be done. There are many ways to keep it on the plastic surface securely or you can of course, just re-write the name, phrase, number or whatever you need on it. Usually, folks are writing their name on various plastic items for organizational purposes in and around their home, in the office, or for their children in the classroom.

Regardless of what the plastic bin or piece is intended for there are several ways to make sure your note or word stays on the plastic!

Here is the steps to keep permanent marker stay on a plastic surface in brief:

  1. Prepare the area (scrub, wipe and clean the plastic really well (use alcohol, soap and water and anything else to really get the surface spotless and clean)
  2. Rid of any grease or fat substance on the surface
  3. Find or buy a good brand of permanent marker to use (don’t use an old one you have, but a new one if needed)
  4. Prepare the plastic (you may have to sand it or coat it with something)
  5. Write on it and let it dry
  6. Seal it with a special sealant or use clear nail polish

How to Seal Permanent Marker on Plastic? (Ultimate Guide in 2021)

1. Prep your surface and clean it well

So, you want to have a clean surface? Well, before you start making marks with your permanent marker, be sure to wipe the surface. Add some soap and water, or alcohol to your cloth. You can spray an outside hose on the area—do whatever you can to make the surface clean and ready to be marked.

You may need something acidic to rid of marks or other surface stains and problem areas. Always re-rinse the area off when you use any solvent or cleaner so the surface is perfect for marking with your permanent marker.

2. Remove any oil or grease spots on the plastic

Now, this is part of the cleaning process, but sometimes, you may miss these spots as they many times aren’t necessarily visible to the naked eye. You should run your hand over the plastic surface you want a permanent marker on and feel for any oil spots.

The plastic may have oily fingerprints or other grease. It is essential to get rid of these marks because your marker won’t stay on for long. When the surface is dry and clean and has no marks oily or not—your permanent marker will last much longer. Of course, you will do other things to the area once you write on the plastic surface, like using some sort of a sealant to provide extra protection to the area, but grease is something that really must be completely removed!

3. Find the right permanent marker or buy a new one!

Your marker needs to be a newer one. So, use a permanent marker in your house that you know works well, otherwise save it for another use. It is recommended to use the best permanent marker possible, so if you need to purchase a new one, do so! There are different name brands you could use or you can buy a cheaper one. Just make sure to use more sealant on ones that aren’t brand names, as they may be weaker than a brand one!

4. Prepping the plastic surface—it’s essential

This is a tad different than cleaning the surface. This is an overall inspection before you actually put the permanent marker on your plastic. This is making sure it is clean and there isn’t last minute surface scrubbing or wiping that needs to be done. You would hate to put the marker down and realize there is grease or water or something else in the way that could destroy your word, phrase or permanent marker drawing on the plastic!

You may even want to lightly sand an area if there are rough spots or anything else you may have missed that will pose a problem once you are ready to write with the permanent marker on the plastic surface. So, look at all parts of the plastic bin, box, decal or other plastic surface, this is your last chance before you start writing on the area you need your logo or other permanent marks.

Once you have done your final checks, you are ready to write. It is essential to do this so you won’t have to go through a process of removing the permanent marker and starting all over again!

5. Time to write on it and let it completely dry

Now that you have sanded the surface, it is ready to be written on. What you have done by sanding the surface is you have created microscopic holes for the ink to sink in. Remember using an oil-based marker? Yes, using that has helped your cause further as we all know water and oil are not the best of friends. So, the moisture from the environment will keep out rather than being friends with the oil buddies. One love-hate relationship that benefits us all!

After writing or doodling on your desired design on the surface, leave it for more some hours. Let this masterpiece of an art dry while you enjoy your leisure time.

6. Seal over the permanent marker

Even with a permanent marker, over time it can fade and needs to be touched up or re-written. But, there is a way to prevent it from happening too soon. You can always put a coat of clear nail polish or what crafting people buy—modge podge. These work best as sealants. There are harsh chemical sprays that professional artists use, but you’ll have to talk to someone at your local art or hardware store to find out which may work best!

Now, you should be all set with your freshly marked plastic item!

Wrap up

If you follow these six basic steps, your permanent marker should last many months or possibly years on the plastic surface. The amount of time the permanent marker lasts on your plastic surface really depends on how much wear and tear it gets. As long as the plastic item is kept clean and away from debris and you or your kids don’t handle the item with fingertips, it should last for many months or even years!

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