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I recently purchased a used SNES game. I had two options: a clean cartridge with a ripped up label, or an intact label where some kid wrote his name on the cartridge with some kind of (permanent?) marker. I figured I could just easily wipe it off.

I've been wondering... is there an easy way to remove the written name that won't damage the cartridge or the label (the name is written across the top of the back, so it's pretty close to the label at the top of the cart).

I'd like to clean it off for a pristine cartridge, but if all removal options will damage it, I'll probably just leave the kid's name on it.

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First, whatever you try, you might want to test it on a similar cartridge that does not have significance to you. That being said...

For some cases, sharpie (or other permanent marker) on dry erase boards can be removed by marking over it with a dry erase marker, then erasing it. I have used this method countless times, and for anything but an extremely old whiteboard, it works. It's also worked on some other smooth semi-gloss surfaces that would otherwise be dry-erasable. Whether or not an SNES cartridge falls into that category, I really don't know, but I'd rather have a big black rectangle/square on a cartridge than some kid's name (worst case).

The other thing to try would be lighter fluid, but I'd only do this in an extremely well ventilated/fan-on-high area, because the fumes could potentially damage the internals of the cartridge. Small amounts applied with a cotton swab. With that in mind, it might be a good idea to cover all of the exposed openings of the cartridge.

Another option if it's still available would be to buy the other cartridge as well, and transplant the good label to the unmarked cartridge. Not optimal, (and definitely more expensive) but could potentially yield the best results if done carefully.

  • Always test first! Good advice. – Ben Jun 29 '15 at 1:24
  • Taking apart the cartridge if you can would solve the problem with using lighter fluid. – RedEagle2000 Apr 4 '16 at 23:15
  • +1 for salvaging the two cartridges into one "good" cartridge. You will need a special driver bit to open up the SNES cartridges, but they can be purchased online for $5 or so. – Nelson Apr 5 '16 at 5:29
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There are numerous methods you can use to get rid of permanent marker. Like Tim said, you can write over it with dry erase marker and then erase both.

You can use nail polish remover (acetone).

You can use a variety of different liquids, ethanol being the simplest, but plenty of things, Windex, WD-40, coffee, etc. will do the job.

Try reading through this: http://www.wikihow.com/Remove-Permanent-Marker-from-a-Smooth-Surface

  • I tried using coffee, but it made very little impact on the marker on the unusual surface of the NES cartridge and whatever marker the coffee removed was probably just because of the hot water in it. – RedEagle2000 Apr 5 '16 at 0:45
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I found that isopropyl alcohol works very well, at least most of the time.

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