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I just bought a brand new $40 Chessex Battlemat. Instead of reading the included paper I just assumed that (Crayola) "WASHable markers" would easily wash off. Now I have a brand new mat covered in marker stains! I was able to get the darkest parts off but it's still unusable!

Does anyone know a way to clean other types of marker off? I can NOT be the only one with this issue, so I'm sure there are others who would appreciate some tips.

I have tried:

  1. Soap & Water
  2. Dish soap & Water
  3. Windex (I'm getting desperate now)

I've been thinking of letting the entire mat soap in a bathtub of soap water over night or using rubbing alcohol but before I do something that drastic and risk completely ruining my mat, I was hoping someone hear might have a better solution.

EDIT 1: Crayola Washable Markers (Black, Red, Blue, Green)
EDIT 2: Marks were left on map for extended period of time (2 weeks)

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Chessex claims that there is no solution to your problem. However, depending on the marker there are a half-dozen or so things to try. If you can give us more details, we can try to compile a list of potential options. –  BESW Sep 16 '13 at 4:30
    
@BESW I may have compounded my problem then. As this game is for my kid I left the map drawn for about 2 weeks as we made our way through the 1st half of the dungeon. –  Ben-Jamin Sep 16 '13 at 4:58
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Two weeks. Oh dear. I'm so sorry. You've learned the lesson that all of us with battlemats learn... it's important to clean your map after the game, or be very attached to the environment you've drawn. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Sep 16 '13 at 5:11
    
Other solvents you might try: Goo-Gone, Gasoline, Mineral Spirits, Paint Thinner. (Test on a small corner first to make sure it won't dissolve the mat, though) –  AJMansfield Sep 16 '13 at 15:25
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@AJMansfield Goo-Gone would have been a good thing to try but don't have any atm. Alcohol (rubbing) did the trick, but you have to be VERY careful with it or risk ruining the map –  Ben-Jamin Sep 17 '13 at 3:11
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2 Answers

You can draw on stained areas with a non-permanent marker then try to remove it.

Once I had written on my friend's gaming mat with a permanent marker by mistake. We couldn't remove it no matter what. After a week, while drawing with a non-permanent marker on the stain that left from permanent one, I discovered that permanent marks can be dissolved once it contacts with non-permanent material and you can clean it pretty good. Now, I use that to remove most of the stain like you mentioned on my own gaming mat. I think that does the same trick with applying alcohol but non-permanent markers have some kind of other ingredients that helps to remove it.

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Welcome to the site! Please take a look at the tour and the help; they're a useful introduction to the site. I've had good luck with this strategy myself, but I've never tried it on Chessex, only on laminate when I accidentally used whiteboard markers. What kind of gaming mat did your friend have? And since you have 20+ rep, feel free to join the chat! –  BESW Sep 16 '13 at 7:56
    
I have seen this strategy work on removing Sharpie from whiteboards, as well. It is because the solvents in the erasable markers dissolve the pigment in the permanent marks. I have also seen one Sharpie used to erase another, older Sharpie mark from a whiteboard, but that's a very non-porous surface and requires quick action on the erasing side! –  gomad Sep 16 '13 at 10:29
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I've used this technique on work whiteboards after an "oops" as well; it's saved embarrassment. –  Rob Sep 16 '13 at 11:16
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Tried this with other non-permanent markers, it helped on the darker marks, but not too well on the rest of the map. Has worked on my plastic maps, sadly just not this one. –  Ben-Jamin Sep 17 '13 at 3:04
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I've never used Crayola Washable markers on a battlemat so I haven't had to deal with this personally, but I have a kid so I'm familiar with a particular resource you might find useful – Crayola has a FAQ of tips for cleaning their products off of materials they weren't meant to be used on. The closest I could find for this situation is for Crayola Washable Markers on vinyl flooring (no wax):

Blot stain with a damp sponge, changing the sponge as it picks up stain. If any stain remains, apply alcohol to a cotton ball and blot. If stain persists, apply alcohol to a cotton ball and place on the stain with a weight on the cotton ball. Cover with a glass jar or equivalent to keep the cotton ball moist overnight. If stain is still noticeable, apply Spot Shot as recommended on the container.Special NoteDo not leave Spot Shot on for more than 8 hours. Check after 4 hours.

It's worth reading the whole page instead of just that excerpt, since it has a bunch of caveats like

Before attempting the stain removal method, test each procedure on an inconspicuous area of the material or surface to be cleaned.

… that are worth reading before attempting to use rubbing alcohol on your battle mat.


As you've discovered, battle mats aren't really made for extended marking. Mats are typically wiped after every session, and most gamers use only non-permanent overhead projector markers on them. Even then, some colours (like red) can leave a faint stain even when promptly wiped up at the end of the session.

Leaving a map set up for long periods of time is useful though. For extended marking, you're better off using something different like a large-format sheet of paper or one of the various "gaming paper" brands that are trendy lately. There is an excellent review of your battle-map material options on Wired that lays out each of their strengths and weaknesses: RPG Battle Maps Square Off: Paper or Gaming Paper?. And as a completely different solution, map tiles are a nice trade-off between flexibility and permanence, allowing you to rearrange them into various forms, at the expense of repetition and needing to collect/print/create a variety of them for different shapes and places.

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Re: extended marking: I get it but it kinda defeats my purpose. I find it very convenient to have 1 map drawn for several sessions, guess I'll just have to draw smaller portions at a time. I use the paper before, it's good but prefer to use it for my more permanent campaign maps. –  Ben-Jamin Sep 17 '13 at 3:07
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basically, the only thing this suggests that I wasn't trying is the alcohol & obviously I can't leave it set overnight without ruining the map. BUT, I did break down and use small amnts of alcohol on small sections at a time. This worked GREAT and I only messed up a small section of squares out of the entire map. –  Ben-Jamin Sep 17 '13 at 3:09
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