The Best Practices for Copic Marker Cleaning | Michelle Houghton on Mixed Media

Mixed Media with Michelle Houghton | Cleaning Your Copics | Get It ScrappedProtect your marker investment with the best methods for Copic Marker Cleaning.

I’ve found copic cleaning information shared online that is not totally accurate.  Here, I share the best way to clean copic markers, why these guidelines work, and how other techniques can damage your markers.

Mixed Media with Michelle Houghton | Cleaning Your Copics | Get It Scrapped

The supplies to use for cleaning your Copic markers are the following:

  • Copic Colorless Blender Solution
  • alcohol or alcohol wipes
  • cotton balls, cotton swabs, tissue or paper towel
  • nib tweezers (optional)


How to Clean Copic Marker Body and Lid

The body and lids of your markers are the easy part!  You can use rubbing or isopropyl alcohol on cotton balls, paper towel or even alcohol wipes to wipe out the exterior of your markers.

Mixed Media with Michelle Houghton | Cleaning Your Copics | Get It Scrapped

Once you take the lid off you can use the wipes, paper towel or cotton balls to carefully clean the ends of the marker body.  This is where I collect the most excess ink so it is important to hit these areas.  Do NOT wipe your nibs with the alcohol solution or wipes.  You do not want to introduce the alcohol into the ink solution.  The alcohol in the Copic inks is not the same as rubbing or isopropyl alcohol and squeezing the nibs with your cotton ball or paper towel will put this different alcohol into your marker body.  Additionally, the felt of the nibs can grab cotton pieces and fibers of the paper towel, gumming them up further.

Mixed Media with Michelle Houghton | Cleaning Your Copics | Get It Scrapped

Next make sure to get the inside of the marker lid clean as well.  Often excess ink will cake on the interior of the lid and can start to gum up your ink flow.  I use one of two methods to get my lids clean.  I either twist up an alcohol dampened paper towel and wipe and spin it into the lid, or I use cotton swabs that are again dampened with alcohol to clean out all the excess ink.

Mixed Media with Michelle Houghton | Cleaning Your Copics | Get It Scrapped Mixed Media with Michelle Houghton | Cleaning Your Copics | Get It Scrapped


How to Clean Copic Marker Nibs

If Copic Markers get gummed up with ink and are not coloring well–or if you pick up another medium that will not scrub off–you need to clean your nibs more thoroughly.

Carefully remove the nib from the marker using a set of tweezers designed for the task or using your fingers.  Grip the nib carefully near the base and pull it gently out.  The nibs are made with a dense felt material and are strong, but tugging them from the tip can tear the fibers.

Mixed Media with Michelle Houghton | Cleaning Your Copics | Get It Scrapped

Set the nib into a small cup or dish of Copic Colorless Blender.  Do NOT use alcohol for this step. Again, when working with the nibs, you do not want to transfer any different solutions into your Copic ink. You need just enough Colorless Blender to cover the marker nib. You will see the ink start to bleed out of the nib into the solution. Let the nib soak for a while: it should turn white or almost white.

Mixed Media with Michelle Houghton | Cleaning Your Copics | Get It Scrapped

Set the nib on a paper towel to dry. When it is ready, replace it in your marker.  You will see the ink wick back out to the tip.  If the soaking does not clean the nib, if it tears when you pull it out or when you try coloring with it, or if it still is not coloring evenly, get a replacement nib and put a new one in the marker body.

Mixed Media with Michelle Houghton | Cleaning Your Copics | Get It Scrapped

Mixed Media with Michelle Houghton | Cleaning Your Copics | Get It Scrapped

If you keep up with them, Copic markers clean up easily and keep coloring beautifully for years and years. If you let them sit neglected they will take a little TLC, but they are still cleanable and can be brought back to life.

Mixed Media with Michelle Houghton | Cleaning Your Copics | Get It Scrapped

If you have questions, please ask and I will make sure to get you answers.  Happy coloring!

Bio-shot-2011-150Michelle Houghton is a wife, mother and artist living in Iowa. Even before she began scrapbooking, she was a lifelong artist, majoring in Fine Arts at the University of Oregon and then teaching high school art for 7 years. Michelle has been scrapbooking for more than 15 years and she enjoys adding her own art, doodles and handmade elements to her pages for a one-of-a-kind look.

Michelle teaches doodling, Copics, handlettering and more at workshops throughout the country. She writes tutorials at Get It Scrapped and is an instructor for Imagination International Inc., the US distributor of Copic products. The best way to learn more about Michelle is at her website,

33 Responses to The Best Practices for Copic Marker Cleaning | Michelle Houghton on Mixed Media

  1. angela December 24, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    Hi, Thanks for the tip , Now for a question , will this work on a dried out nib ?

    • Michelle December 30, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

      You can sure try it! Certainly won’t hurt it and might save you the cost of a new nib! There is also a chance you just need to refill your marker and the ink flowing through might loosen it up.

  2. Ann C December 28, 2014 at 5:32 pm #

    Nice article. One thing to note though…..the nib is actually a rubbery type material that is OVER the compressed felt. All the more important that you don’t tug on the tip since it is in two sections.

    • Michelle January 2, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

      The nib is compressed, molded felt…more flexible felt hand-glued to a denser felt fiber wick. I double checked my facts with the home office ( Imagination International Inc., the Copic distributors for the US.) to make sure. Thanks for reading Ann!

  3. Beth January 4, 2015 at 8:17 am #

    Great article can you tell us where the best place is to buy refills for your markers and the solution

    • Michelle January 23, 2015 at 4:13 pm #

      Any Copic supplies can be purchased through and there are other on-line stores and sites that sell them as well. is one of my favorites. If the solution you are curious about is the Copic Colorless Blender then same spots if you are looking for the alcohol then Walmart, grocery store etc… You will find it in the first aid aisle :-)

  4. Karina April 23, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

    Hi Michelle!
    Have u ever tried to empty a marker and refill it? If so, how did you cleaned up the body? Soak it in alcohol, or colorless solution?
    I have a marker that kinda dried up, so I bought a refill and new nibs to replace it. But I can’t seem to find how to empty it anywhere… Thanks!

    • Michelle May 19, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

      You can’t empty them Karina. There is a felt core that holds the ink inside the barrel and you really can’t get that out to clean it or empty it. You can clean the exterior, clean and/or exchange the nibs and you can refill the ink. To refill it pull both caps off, press the tip of the refill bottle against the side of the chisel nib and squeeze the refill bottle gently. The ink will flow right down into the barrel of the marker and get it ready to color again.

      Hope that helps, give a shout if you have any other questions!

  5. Bev May 18, 2015 at 9:16 am #

    What causes a copic marker to suddenly bleed out a big drop of ink when coloring?
    I have had this happen with a couple of my markers.

    • Michelle May 19, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

      GREAT QUESTION BEV! Anyone who has markers purchased in the past couple years knows exactly what you are talking about, the dreaded BLOB! This is a manufacturing issue that has since been corrected, but in the mean time we are all dealing with markers that are overfilled.
      1- Watch for a wet nib, if your nib begins to look shiny and wet, immediately pull it away from your project, pull both caps off, and scribble on some scratch paper to get rid of excess ink.
      2- If you do end up with a blob there are two solutions, start over, (it is just a piece of paper), or if you want to save your image, Place a napkin or tissue under your image and set your colorless blender marker down right on top of the blob. Massage the area with small circles or even just press it on the surface. The absorbent its underneath will help pull the color through. I have seen several repairs done this way VERY successfully! Good luck!

    • Tracy June 4, 2015 at 10:48 pm #

      Hi Bev,
      Ive had this happen to me and I got the same answer that Michelle gave you here. I asked a certified instructor of Copic markers Colleen @ Copic in the craft room on you tube. This works so far for me :)

  6. Lois November 19, 2015 at 8:06 am #

    They say that Copic Sketch markers have a shelf life of three years. What if
    for some reason I discover some markers that are five years old hiding in my
    collection that have not been used, what do I do to get them ready for use?

    Thank you for your help.

    • Michelle December 13, 2015 at 9:45 pm #

      Sorry for the horrible slow reply Lois, if you see this make sure to just try them first :-). Most of the time if they are closed properly they will go beyond the 3 year shelf life. That is what the company will guarantee but most will be fine beyond.
      IF they need a little TLC you can clean out the nibs really well by soaking them see above and add a little bit of ink to get it all flowing again. Good luck and feel free to ask more I will check back!

  7. Sascha January 13, 2016 at 7:04 am #

    The cap of one of my Copic Ciaos keep getting stuck when I use it. It’s like the ink in the cap works like glue . The Ciao actually comes apart when I try to take the cap off, down to the felt core. It only happens while I am coloring. If I havent used the marker for awhile, it’s fine. Am I not supposed to put the cap back on, until I am done coloring? I have tried cleaning the marker, only worked untill next time I used it.

  8. Sean Covert January 19, 2016 at 12:01 am #

    Hi Michelle! So I was told by an instructor to clean my nibs with cotton & alcohol. The exact opposite of what you’re saying here. I’ve done it a few times because they tend to gum up pretty quickly. At this point have I ruined the markers or the exact color inside the markers? Thanks!!!

    • Michelle February 13, 2016 at 8:28 pm #

      Sascha, If you are willing to send that marker into Imagination International Inc. they will replace it for you. They SHOULD NOT come apart like that. You could even contact them ahead of time and ask where to ship, but they will get you a new one as long as they have one in stock!

    • Michelle February 13, 2016 at 8:30 pm #

      It is more the issue of mixing a different alcohol in the mix. I would just see how they work over time. But in the future cleaning the nibs you really need to stick with the Colorless Blender solution. The barrel and caps can be cleaned with the alcohol.

      This is why I posted this, lots of incorrect information out there. Sorry!

  9. T'kuyrune August 23, 2016 at 4:24 pm #

    This really helped me understand how to clean them. I’m planning on buying a whole bunch so I decided to look up how to clean them :)

  10. Pája October 20, 2016 at 8:42 am #

    hi, I was trying to replace my nibs but when I pulled one out, it came apart and the rest of the nib stayed inside of the marker and I can’t get it out. This happened to two of my markers and I really don’t know what to do. Have you ever had this happen to you?

    • Jillian Rossi January 13, 2017 at 5:04 am #

      Try using a safety pin or something of the sort to pull it out…….

    • Michelle Houghton January 24, 2017 at 9:25 pm #

      Tweezers work pretty well to get them out. Copic makes a pair of tweezers that will help you grip the brush nib tightly at the base so this does not happen. The brush nib is made in two pieces and if pulled by the top and not gripped tightly at the base they can be pulled apart. Remember you can replace the nibs very easily!

  11. Jillian Rossi January 13, 2017 at 5:03 am #

    Hello there . What about cleaning the nibs with a quick dip in laquer thinner? I know thinner is a harsh chemical, although it’s what I use if my paint brushes are heavily coated with paint that has dried.

    Also, Is it possible to purchase more Copic ink to refill the markers with??


    • Michelle Houghton January 24, 2017 at 9:29 pm #

      Jillian it is an absolute no on the lacquer thinner. The problem is if you clean the nibs in ANYTHING other then the Colorless Blender what ever you clean them with it gets introduced back into your marker and will ruin that marker. It changes the ink make up and you can not correct it. Sorry!
      And YES you can absolutely re-fill your markers look for Copic Various Ink one bottle will refill a sketch marker 17 times!

  12. ColorGaia April 22, 2017 at 9:23 am #

    Thanks for the tips, there’s some great stuff in here. I really like the idea of cleaning out the caps with a q-tip. It seems like I always run into problems with ink on the inside of the caps, especially if I don’t rotate markers that are stored upright for a long time.

    I have a couple of old Copics that I thought were goners, but I’m going to go try bringing some life back into them now :)

  13. Yen June 10, 2017 at 12:30 pm #

    Can i use water instead of colorless blender?

    • Kat June 16, 2017 at 6:24 pm #

      I have the same question. I don’t have access to a blender solution so easily, and I’m a total lazy butt about buying things, so if water would work, that would be awesome.

    • Damaris Velazquez April 26, 2018 at 8:53 am #

      The colorless blender removes ink. If you think about how you use your 0 marker, it helps with blending two colors, but also it helps remove colors; like when you want to create polka dots. This is why using the colorless blender is more efficient. Otherwise, the water will just wet your nib, but not remove the ink from it. You want to have all the ink removed from the nib, for a “fresh” start.

  14. Elie December 23, 2017 at 8:45 pm #

    I need to clean mine ASAP! But I don’t have the blinder refill how should I clean it

  15. Jean MacNaughton March 29, 2018 at 3:42 pm #

    Thanks! I have a marker that wasn’t closed tightly so dried out. I thought maybe it was toast. I’m going to try cleaning the dry nib with the blender. I don’t have that reinker so am wondering if I can add a bit of blender to the inside to try to get the ink to flow again. What do you think?

    • Damaris Velazquez April 26, 2018 at 8:51 am #

      Hi, just read your comment and I’m curious about what the results were from your copic refreshing experiment.

  16. Damaris Velazquez April 26, 2018 at 8:51 am #

    Thank you for carefully adding details and photos. I think the 1 mistake I did when cleaning my copics (years ago – it’s been a while and I’d like to pick it back up), is having the nib soak in alcohol. I didn’t think it would ruin anything. Not all the nibs, but a couple. I don’t remember if those were the copics that I had to replace? I feel like even adding the in refill did not help the copic. I am going to bring mine back to life and hopefully make use of them more.

    Do you think putting a nib in alcohol made them unuseable?h

  17. Zain August 19, 2018 at 6:14 pm #

    A few of my markers, when I draw, they stay shiny, and dont soak into the paper, creating a sort of shiny and sticky gunk of the paper top. How do I fix this without colorless blender solution?


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