You can use dry-erase on mirrors and other nonporous surfaces such as glass. The oily silicon polymers used to dissolve the pigment in the markers do not adhere to nonporous surfaces and can be wiped away easily. Use them on mirrors to write notes, decorate, and even inspire.
In this article, I’ll explore how you can use dry-erase markers on mirrors while comparing them to other marker varieties. Keep reading for ideas on how to use dry-erase markers on mirrors and similar nonporous surfaces.
How Dry Erase Markers Work
Dry-erase markers use a silicon-based polymer that can slide off easily without soaking into nonporous surfaces like glass and mirrors. The ink dries over time but stays wipeable so long as the oily silicone polymer has not dried out.
All markers are basically constructed from the same three components:
- A thin sponge (that protrudes to become the tip).
- The marker body, or plastic tube and cap carrying the sponge.
- The liquid in the sponge.
The sponge is saturated with a liquid made of a solvent and pigment. In dry-erase markers, this solvent is a very slippery silicone polymer. As a result, it can be wiped away easily because it does not adhere well to the surface.
However, dry-erase markers must be used on non-porous surfaces such as a whiteboard, mirror, metal, or even glass. Nonporous surfaces have microscopic holes that would allow the surface to act as a sponge. Instead, the pigment in the marker cannot soak into the mirror’s surface any more than it could on a whiteboard.
Using Dry Erase on a Mirror
You can use dry-erase on mirrors just as you would on any whiteboard. Leave quick inspirational quotes on bathroom mirrors, or leave elaborate decorations to dry semi-permanently on the surface. Alternatively, you can use the mirror as a makeshift board to study or brainstorm.
Here are a few ideas on what to do with a dry-erase marker and a mirror.
Write inspirational quotes on your bathroom or vanity mirror daily to keep yourself motivated. You can change the quote every day, depending on your circumstances. Studies have shown that motivational quotes can inspire productivity and help you achieve goals.
Don’t limit your motivational messages to only one aspect of your life. Your mirror is the perfect place to encourage yourself to become the most confident version of yourself—that’s where you can stop yourself from over-criticizing your body shape and replace those negative thoughts with positive ones.
You can also add motivational quotes to hallway mirrors; that way, they’re the last thing you see before you head out for the day.
Draw decorative designs on your mirrors and leave them to dry for around three days. You can correct the drawings as you go. The designs will be dry to the touch within an hour while still wipeable. After three days, more elaborate measures need to be taken.
I found that using a dry-erase marker on a mirror is a great way to recycle the same mirror for different design aesthetics or even as a signpost. One restaurant I went to was using a dry-erase marker to write down weekly specials or soup dishes with a flair.
Use fancy colors beyond the standard red, green, black, and blue. The Volcanics Dry Erase Markers on Amazon are great for decorative drawings on mirrors because you get ten colors, and they are bright and vivid.
Leaving a Message
Make sure your roommate or family members never forget their lunch or take out the trash by leaving them important messages right where they are bound to look—in the mirror. Leave messages, take notes, or wish them luck. A mirror is a perfect place to write dry-erase messages.
Most people will take at least a cursory glance at their mirror before they head out for the day, so this would be the ideal place for last-minute notes that roommates are guaranteed to see.
Have a brainstorming session, solve mathematical equations, or visualize your plans on your mirror by converting it to a makeshift board. Dry-erase markers won’t leave any stains on your mirrors, and you won’t need extra space to store a whiteboard.
If you’ve ever had a study session with friends and found that you couldn’t put your thoughts down on a small US letter-size paper, you can move your discussion to a mirror. If you have a full-length mirror in your wardrobe, all the better!
Draw Yourself in the Mirror
Use the dry-erase markers to draw a portrait of yourself in the mirror easily. Looking directly at yourself, you can trace your image for a nice effect. You can also do this fun art activity with small children.
To make the process easier, make sure that your marker is black or any other high-contrast color so that you can see the lines you are tracing better. Moreover, it helps to wear sunglasses when you trace because eyes are very difficult to draw, even if you’re tracing the original in real time.
Don’t forget to take a photo of your finished portrait!
Can You Use Washable Markers on Mirrors?
You can use washable markers on mirrors if they don’t have a coating against fog or UV light. The solvent used in washable markers can interact with these coatings and cause permanent damage. Otherwise, you can wipe washable markers from mirrors using a damp cloth.
It’s important to note that washable markers are different from dry-erase markers. Also known as wet-erase markers, washable markers typically use a variety of alcohols as solvents for pigments. Moreover, wet-erase markers generally use nontoxic chemicals because they are usually marketed for children.
The slippery bond between the silicone polymer and the nonporous surface is the key to using dry-erase markers on a whiteboard or mirror. Washable markers, on the other hand, do not form a slippery bond. The pigment dries in place when the volatile alcohol evaporates.
Using washable markers on mirrors that are treated with a fog-free or anti-UV coating is not recommended because of the alcohols in the solvent bond with the coating. Because alcohol is almost a universal solvent, you can expect this chemical reaction and should be careful to avoid it to not damage the coating on your mirror.
Can You Use Chalk Markers on Glass?
You can use liquid chalk markers on glass, mirrors, and other non-porous surfaces. Despite the name, they do not contain chalk, but the dried ink resembles chalk in texture and color. Use chalk markers to draw more elaborate designs on glass and mirrors alike.
Cleaning chalk markers is simple enough—wipe them away with a damp cloth as you would with a wet-erase marker. This is better than using a dry-erase marker because the drawings on your glass or mirrors will be semi-permanent. That is, the pigment will withstand brushing up against the glass during a photo shoot or at a restaurant (if you’re using the markers to write down the soup of the day).
Chalk markers can also be used to write on nonporous chalkboards, where you can better appreciate the contrast in colors. Metallic surfaces are also great for this purpose. You can easily write on metallic surfaces using liquid chalk markers and wipe the opaque color away when you’re done.
Removing Dried Marker From Mirrors
If you’ve used any marker on your mirrors, there’s always a chance you’ll forget to wipe them off. Over time, the marker will dry on the mirror’s surface and won’t be as easy to clean.
The following are instructions on removing dried markers from your mirrors (or other nonporous surfaces). Remember that cleaning dried marker stains from other materials, such as fabrics and porous surfaces, is quite different because the chemical bonds between the marker and the substrate are different, requiring different cleaning methods.
Dry Erase Marker
Remove cured dry-erase marker stains from mirrors and other nonporous surfaces using a new dry-erase marker, nail polish remover, window cleaner, or alcohol wipes.
Because the silicone polymer has cured and lost the slippery bond it had made with the mirror, you will need to dissolve the pigment in another solvent. Even though water will work in a pinch, it will require much more elbow grease.
The easiest trick is to write over the cured marker and wipe it away. The solvent in your new dry-erase marker should be enough to dissolve the pigments in the cured and dried marker.
Do not let the mirror saturate in acetone; instead, wipe it away fast to avoid causing permanent damage.
You can remove permanent marker drawings from mirrors and whiteboards using acetone or rubbing alcohol. Nail polish remover (acetone) will be more effective at dissolving the pigments of a permanent marker, but alcohol should work with enough saturation and rubbing.
Be careful when using acetone around your mirror frame if it is wooden and coated in varnish. The acetone will dissolve the varnish and damage the wood. Always test first in a concealed corner to make sure you don’t cause any permanent damage to the wooden frame or any other parts of the mirror.
Acetone can also cause permanent damage to some mirrors, so avoid leaving it on the mirror for too long.
As the name suggests, a washable marker can be rinsed away using water. If the drawings are too dry, consider adding regular dish soap and scrubbing gently using a dish sponge. The marker should wash right off.
Not only are the materials used in making washable markers usually nontoxic, but they are also much easier to clean. Even if you’ve forgotten about the marker drawn on your mirrors or other nonporous surfaces, you’ll find that the pigments are pretty soluble in plain old water.
Clean the opaque drawings of a chalk marker from mirrors and other nonporous surfaces using a damp towel dipped in vinegar. Otherwise, a magic eraser (melamine sponge) might help. Try it out in a hidden place, as melamine can be abrasive and might fade part of the surface.
Chalk markers are different because the pigment is much heavier when compared to dry-erase or permanent markers. Therefore, removing the dried pigment will require more work.
Using Dry Erase Markers To Check Double-sided Mirrors
Double-sided mirrors are often hidden in plain sight, but a dry-erase marker can help you check dressing room mirrors easily. Draw a line on the mirror using a dry-erase marker. If you see two lines, it isn’t double-sided. One line indicates the mirror is double-sided.
You can use this handy trick to check the mirrors in dressing rooms, hotels, short-term rental apartments (Airbnb, for example), and anywhere else you suspect double-sided mirrors are installed.
Of course, the fact that you can wipe away the dry-erase marker makes it easy to avoid leaving traces of your little experiment.
If you find a double-sided mirror, I don’t suggest you talk to anyone about it. Leave the facility and report the issue to the appropriate authorities, but do not get into trouble or create a conflict based on your findings.
Many people have malicious intent in today’s world, so be careful.
Use dry-erase markers, washable, or even liquid markers on mirrors just as you would on any whiteboard. There’s no risk of damaging the mirror most of the time, and you can get more use out of your mirror this way.
Even if you ever forget your dry-erase markings on your mirror, cleaning up isn’t too difficult as long as you know what solvents you’re using and the surfaces you’re trying to clean.
For more, check out The 7 Best Ways To Remove Ink From Paper.
Hey, I’m Jim, and I’m the author of this website. I have been teaching people a wide variety of survivalism topics for over five years and have a lifetime of experience fishing, camping, general survivalism, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up, I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!