Do Markers Dry Out, Expire, Or Go Bad? (Can You Fix Them?) 


Do Markers Dry Out, Expire, Or Go Bad?

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In nearly every household and classroom around the world you will find a vast array of markers. Many people prefer to use them in place of crayons for more vibrant color saturation and they are not as messy as paint can be in the hands of younger children. 

But do these markers expire or dry out? 

Markers, much like paint, do not have an expiration date. However, they can dry out if they are not sealed properly.

If you have unopened markers they will eventually dry out as well but it will take several years for that to happen. If they are left in the sunlight or stored where it’s hot then they will dry out faster as well. 

To see the most popular marker sets click here. 

How Can You Fix A Marker That Has Dried Out? 

You’re cleaning up your classroom and notice that several of the markers did not get their caps put back on. 

You are in your child’s room cleaning up after they had a busy afternoon of creating art to find that the lids to the markers had been discarded throughout the room with the markers laying everywhere, drying out. 

Your child opened a new box of markers and within a few minutes of coloring noticed that the marker was drying out. 

How can you save these markers from getting discarded in the trash? 

If you’re trying to revive a water-based marker all you need is a bowl of warm water and time. Simply soak the tip of your water-based marker in a bowl of warm water for five minutes then let the marker dry for twenty-four hours. 

It should be as good as new but be sure to keep the lids on tight from now on (or make sure your kids do). 

If you have noticed that your dry erase marker has dried out you will need a pair of pliers to fix it. Use a pair of pliers to gently pull the tip out of the dry erase marker, turn the tip around, and then place the tip back into the marker. 

If your permanent markers have dried out as well, to revive them all you need is a little bit of rubbing alcohol. Soak the tips of your permanent marker in rubbing alcohol for several minutes. Securely snap the caps back on to the markers and let them sit for forty-eight hours. 

Now all of your markers should be as good as new.

How Should Markers Be Stored? 

Growing up I never really thought about how markers should be stored. In my house they were often tossed into a drawer or tin that is filled with markers, pens, crayons, colored pencils, and pencils. 

Sometimes markers would get closed into the coloring book that they were last being used on. 

If I was in the middle of coloring something and selected all the colors that you want to use for that page, I didn’t want to put all those markers back into a container only to have to guess at which colors I had been using when i did have time to go back to that page, so I would just leave them in the coloring book and close it up. 

That way I would have all the colors I wanted when I was ready to get back to it. Markers often get left in backpacks or trapper keepers so my siblings or I would have them if we needed them for a school project. 

Other times markers would get left on the table or even roll off onto the floor. 

But did you know that if you do not store your markers properly you can shorten their lifespan and cause the colors to not be as vibrant as they should be? 

Here are a few ways that you can best store your markers to expand their lifespan and vibrancy. 

Dual ended markers should be stored on their side. Single tipped markers should be stored vertically with the ink end pointed down. All markers should have their lids firmly attached before storing them. 

Dual-ended markers such as the Arteza Everblend Art Makers should be stored on their side. If you store dual-ended markers vertically, you risk having one end hold all the ink in it’s tip while the other end could dry out. 

Storing these types of markers on their side will let the ink stay more in the barrel. 

Markers with a single tip should be stored vertically. The best way to store single tip markers is to be sure that the cap is securely in place, then put the cap end down. You can use an old cup or jar to store your markers in or you can purchase a marker caddy. 

Once you have your markers stored vertically you can also sort them by color families for easier access.

How Long Can Markers Last If They Are Unopened? 

If you are like me, you like to stock up on school and art supplies when they go on clearance. Every year in September after school starts and the stores need to start clearing out the space to get in the Halloween items, they mark the school supplies down in price. 

Oftentimes I can pick up a box of crayons for a quarter or a box of markers for fifty cents. My kids go through art supplies rather quickly so I stock up on these items. 

I’ll purchase several boxes of markers and put them up for when we need them. 

But, how long will these markers last? Will they be dried out before the kids need them? 

Markers can have a shelf life of two to three years if they are unopened. That means when you see them on clearance you can go ahead and replenish your supply of markers without worrying if they will go bad before you get around to using them.

Of course you won’t want to stockpile 5 years worth of markers at a time but getting a year’s supply of markers when they are on sale or clearance won’t hurt them. 

What Are The Different Types Of Markers?  

If you are wondering what the different types of markers are that are currently available then this section is for you! 

There are three different categories for markers. They can be divided up into water-based, alcohol-based, and solvent-based. 

Crayola markers are water-based markers, as well as brands such as Tom-bow and Windsor-Newton. Water based markers are the ones that typically get sent to school with your kids. 

These markers tend to be odorless and washable. They are also made with a combination of ink and water or ink and a water/glycerin mix. 

Alcohol-based markers are made with a mix of ink and alcohol. These markers tend to dry out more quickly than water-based markers as the alcohol begins to dry as soon as the cap is removed. 

The colors from these markers can be blended by taking a Q-tip and dipping it into a little bit of rubbing alcohol then rubbing it along the colors you want to blend. Or you can use a blender marker. 

Alcohol based markers tend to have an odor to them and can be irritating to the eyes. Popular brands of alcohol-based markers are Sharpie, Prismacolor, and Copic. 

Finally, solvent-based markers mix ink with a solvent such as butyl acetate, methyl isobutyl ketone, or xylene. These markers have a harsh odor and can be irritable to the lungs and eyes. 

Be careful when using these markers, I wouldn’t recommend that little kids use these. The ink from these markers is not quite permanent but they do last for a long time.

Remember you can revive any of these markers if they have gone dry. Make sure you know the type of marker you have so you know which method will work to give it new life.

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