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Are Sharpies Waterproof? (Read This First!)

From papers to stones, Sharpies are used on several surfaces. We all have used Sharpie at some point and pondered, “will it withstand water?”

The answer is not easy because you have to consider many factors. Do not worry; we got your back. Follow this article to find out what you came here for.

Are sharpies waterproof?

Sharpie permanent markers are waterproof and smearproof. It is best to dry your work overnight before you apply watercolor. Sharpie pens bleed if smudged right after use. Sharpie highlighters are smudge-proof to some extent. Non-permanent sharpie markers wash off in contact with water.

Sharpie comes in highlighters, markers, and pens. Let us see how these different products react with water.


Sharpie art pens are quick-drying, water-resistant, and fade-resistant. Sharpie pens are waterproof except sharpie rollerball pens and sharpie gel pens.

Even though sharpie art pens are quick-dry, oil-based, and fade-resistant, it is best to let the ink dry for some minutes before you apply watercolor over it. Otherwise, the ink will bleed.

Markers/Permanent markers:

Sharpie permanent markers are both waterproof and fade resistant. Oil-based Sharpie markers work better on different surfaces than alcohol-based Sharpie markers.

Non-permanent sharpie markers are not waterproof.


Both sharpie tank highlighters and sharpie pocket highlighters are quick-dry and waterproof. Sharpie highlighters do not bleed through. Great for taking notes because it does not bleed and keeps your paper clean.


Sharpie fineliner pens are water-resistant and smearproof. The ink does not bleed through standard paper. Left-handed people will get great value from this pen.

What are sharpies waterproof on?

Sharpie Oil-based markers are waterproof on a wide range of surfaces. A rule of thumb is to let the ink dry for a day to get long-lasting results.


Sharpies are not waterproof on fabric. After laundry, the ink will bleed through, and it will damage the whole fabric. But you can make Sharpie waterproof on fabric.


Sharpie permanent markers are waterproof and fade-resistant on plastic surfaces. Oil-based Sharpie markers work better on plastic than alcohol-based Sharpie markers.


Both oil-based sharpie markers and pens are waterproof on wood. The ink will not wash off in the rain. Standard alcohol-based sharpie markers will wash off the wood.


Similar to plastic, both alcohol-based and oil-based Sharpie markers are waterproof on glass surfaces.


Yes, permanent Sharpie markers are waterproof on shoes, be it canvas or leather. Sharpie art pens work great on shoes as well. But you have to work a little extra to stop it from fading.


Sharpie permanent markers are waterproof. The ink does not bleed on sturdy papers.

Do not put watercolor instantly on it after using sharpie markers. Let the ink dry for some minutes, and you are ready to go.


Sharpie permanent markers are waterproof on metal. Let the ink dry for some minutes, and it will not smear. Apply another coat of ink for better results.


Oil-based permanent Sharpie markers are waterproof on leathers. But maintaining the same hue is tough on leathers since the ink fades after some time.

How can I make my Sharpie waterproof?

It takes some extra steps to make Sharpie waterproof on different surfaces. Some are easy, and some take additional materials. Follow these simple steps to make your sharpie designs eternal.

Iron and cold-water wash for fabric:

Wash the fabric before you draw your desired design on it. Apply as much ink as you can gently. Let it dry for a day.

Now iron over your design, placing a paper in between. Do not use steam. Do not wash with hot water. Use cold water instead.

You may follow other steps for a long-lasting result. Spray clear fabric paint over your sharpie ink and let it dry.

Other alternative includes using fixative products. Adhere to user instructions on that product for the best outcome.

Dry for an hour before water coloring:

We all know how great sharpie permanent markers are for drawing outlines. Let your ink dry for 30-40 minutes. Apply watercolor with gentle strokes. But if you stroke your brush harder, let the ink dry for an hour or two.

Bake for glasses and ceramics:

Clean the whole glass or ceramics before you apply Sharpie. Use oil-based sharpie markers. Let your design dry for a day.

You should paint on the outer surface as sharpie markers are not safe for foods.

Bake it for 25 minutes at 360 degrees Fahrenheit (182 degrees Celsius).

Do not take it out of the oven. Leave it until it cools down. Do handwash instead of using the dishwasher for longevity.

If glasses are too big for the oven, such as windows. First, clean the whole surface with soap and let it dry. Use oil-based sharpie markers, and let it dry for a day.   

Waterproofing spray on shoes:

Clean your canvas shoes before designing with Sharpie permanent markers. Let it dry for a day. Now, apply any waterproofing spray on your shoe from half a foot away.

Do not spray only on designed areas. Spray on your whole shoe. Otherwise, the ink will bleed upon washing.

Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellent (1 - 10.5 oz cans)

Polyurethane sealer on wood and plastic:

Use oil-based sharpie markers on wood and plastic. Clean the surface thoroughly before designing if it is dirty. Be careful of oil and dirt.

Spray polyurethane sealer directly on your design. This coat will make the ink permanent and resist dirt from forming.

Minwax 33050000 Fast Drying Polyurethane, 11.5 Fl Oz (Pack of 1), Gloss

Rust-oleum Clear Coat for metals:

Drawing on metals could be a challenge. Carefully mark on smooth metals. Rougher metals hold ink better. Allow your Sharpie to dry for a whole day.

Spray Rust-oleum Clear Coat on your design to make it permanent. Heavy usage will cause the coat to fade away. Apply more if necessary.

Rust-Oleum 249117-6 PK Painter's Touch 2X Ultra Cover, 6 Pack, Gloss Clear, 6 Can

Clear acrylic matte sealer for DIYs:

Clear acrylic matte sealer is excellent for making sharpie markers waterproof on your little DIY projects.

Do not use this spray around a fire. The clear acrylic matte sealer works perfectly fine on plastic, metals, stones, glasses, ceramics, and other surfaces.

How do you keep a sharpie from rubbing off?

Even though sharpies come with a fade-resistant tag, with enough time, the inks fade away. Keeping it from fading away could be tricky on some surfaces. Check out these steps to keep your Sharpie fade-resistant.

Use oil-based markers:

Sharpies have both alcohol-based markers and oil-based markers. Alcohol-based markers best serve on paper.

Oil-based markers work basically on any surface. Metal, rubber, stone, ceramics, plastics, you name it.

Clean fats away:

Plastic or metal surfaces may have fat residues, which causes unnecessary troubles. Use soap and wash entirely.


The best way to ensure your Sharpie stays permanent is to apply layers of Sharpie. Let your ink dry and draw again on it. It may seem tiring, but the long-lasting outcome is worth the effort.

Wait! Let it dry:

After all the effort you have put into your art, have some rest. Let your masterpiece dry to get permanent ink. Leave it overnight to dry.

Apply coatings:

Polyurethane sealer works great on plastic. The waterproof spray seals the deal on shoes. Make sure to follow the product guidelines properly.

Launder carefully:

Hot water will cause your ink to bleed. So, for fabrics, use cold water. Also, it is better to wash the fabric you will paint beforehand. It washes away unnecessary ink and dirt.

Is Sharpie waterproof outside?

Yes, Sharpie permanent markers are waterproof outside. But they often get faded due to rough environments. For long-lasting results, use oil-based Sharpie markers.

Non-permanent Sharpie markers are not waterproof.

Can you clear coat sharpie?

Yes, you can clear coat sharpie. Coatings like a vinyl sealer, polyurethane does wonder for your Sharpie. But first, you must dry your artwork. Otherwise, sealers will discolor your sharpie ink. Leave your Sharpie overnight to dry for safety.

How long should Sharpie last?

Unopened sharpie pens and markers last about 2-3 years. Alcohol-based sharpies dry faster because alcohol evaporates in the air. Always close the cap after using it.

The lifetime of sharpie markings depends on the environment and intensity of usage. Outside it may fade away in months while it stays for years inside. Apply a clear coat to make your art last longer.

Final Thoughts

While oil-based sharpie markers are waterproof on most of the surfaces, alcohol-based markers better suit papers. You have put in some effort to make your art everlasting on surfaces where Sharpies fade quickly. However, be careful to use non-permanent markers as they are not waterproof.