You are in your home office, working away on an important project when you accidentally knock over a permanent marker.
The ink immediately starts to bleed, ruining your desk and the work surface.
If this has happened to you, stay calm and don’t panic!
I have been in the same situation a couple of times when I worked with my Sharpie and have found a few different ways to remove the permanent marker from my work wooden desk.
The quickest is to:
- Apply a little bit of isopropyl alcohol to a clean cotton ball.
- Dab the permanent marker regions with the wetted cotton ball until the permanent marker, like Sharpie, begins to lift.
- To remove the marker spots, reapply isopropyl alcohol. Use a clean lint free cloth to wipe down the area and remove any residual cleaner.
Further, in this guide, I will share a host of other methods (in case the above one does not work), all that I have learned from my mistakes, and what worked for me.
Hopefully, the tips and techniques I will discuss will help you out.
Permanent Marker Stains On Wood
Before we proceed with permanent marker cleaning methods, it’s important to know that permanent markers can either be alcohol-based or oil-based.
Generally, the type of solvent used determines if a permanent marker is alcohol-based or oil-based.
Also, permanent markers are designed to be resistant to water, so trying to remove them with water will only make the stain worse.
Instead, you need to use a solvent that will dissolve the ink.
For alcohol-based markers on finished or varnished wood, you can use rubbing alcohol, whereas, for oil-based markers, you can use something like WD-40.
Apply the solvent to a cotton ball or paper towel and dab it on the stain.
Once you’ve applied the solvent, you should see the ink transfer from the wood to the cotton ball or paper towel.
Continue dabbing until the stain is gone permanently. Once cleaned, wipe with a damp cloth.
Removing Sharpie From Wooden Surfaces
There are many ways to take the Sharpie permanent marker stains out from wood surfaces like a desk, tables, chairs, or other furniture pieces.
Some of them would use items that are probably already in your home, while others may require a trip to the store.
The methods I will discuss here will mostly be using the materials you already have in your pantry, making it very easy for you to get the job done even in case your kid has doodled all over your work desk, hardwood floor, or varnished doors with a sharpie.
So, here is a list of ways to clean permanent marker stains on wood…
Method 1- Baby Oil to Erase Sharpie
Before starting with any method, I would say it is always best to test it in an inconspicuous area first to see the reaction of your wood with the cleaning agent.
This would be particularly helpful if you have an expensive piece of finished wood furniture you don’t want to get ruined.
- For this method, you need to take a clean white cloth or a paper towel and pour some baby oil on it.
- Now, rub the stained area in a circular motion until the stain disappears.
- Once the ink is gone, use a dry cloth to wipe the area clean.
Tip: As an alternative to baby oil, you can even use a spray-on sunscreen, a sunscreen lotion, or a hairspray.
Just use it on the stained surface, and it should do the trick.
Method 2- Vinegar to Get Sharpie off the Counter
Vinegar is another great way to remove stubborn permanent marker stains from wood.
I have found this method to be particularly useful if the permanent marker ink is on the counters or cabinets of your kitchen or bathroom.
Using vinegar for this purpose is simple.
- Just take a clean cloth or a ball of cotton wool and soak it in vinegar.
- Then, rub the permanent marker stain area with the cloth until all the stains are gone.
- You may need to do this a few times to remove the stain completely.
Method 3- Peanut Butter to Take off Permanent Marker
Another excellent way to remove a permanent marker is by using peanut butter you would most likely have in your kitchen or dining table.
- Scoop some of the peanut butter out and start rubbing it on top of the marker stain using a spoon or butter knife.
- You will see the color from the permanent marker slowly coming off your desk as you continue to rub the peanut butter in.
- After allowing it to sit for a minute or two, use a paper towel to wipe off the excess peanut butter, and the stain should be gone as well.
- Give the area a final wipe with a damp cloth to remove any residue from the peanut butter before allowing it to air dry.
- If the stain is still visible, you can repeat this process or try one of the other methods listed above or below.
Method 4- Ronsonol Lighter Fuel to Remove Sharpie from Floors
To remove permanent markers from wood floors or other surfaces, you can also consider using Ronsonol Lighter fuel.
It’s a fluid that is used to refill lighters but can also be effective in removing markers and other stains.
- Pour a small amount of the fluid onto a clean ball of cotton wool to saturate it.
- Gently start rubbing the ball of cotton wool over the stained area using circular motions.
- You should see the permanent marker coming off the surface and onto the ball of cotton wool.
- Change to a new clean area of the cotton wool when it becomes too stained to continue.
- When you have removed as much of the marker as possible, use a clean damp cloth to wipe over the area to remove any residue from the Ronsonol.
Method 5- Use a Pencil Eraser to Get Permanent Marker Ink Off
A regular pencil eraser (in your kid’s pencil box) can also be effective in taking off the Sharpie marker stains.
While a standard pencil eraser may work on various surfaces like walls, plastic, metal, or glass, I think this should not work on porous surfaces like wood unless you have a more robust eraser meant to clean such surfaces.
- Grab a pencil eraser and start by rubbing the eraser over the top of the stain in a circular motion.
- If you don’t see any results after a minute or so, try wetting the eraser slightly with some water and then continue rubbing.
- You should start seeing the stain coming off the surface and transferring onto the eraser very soon.
- When you’ve gotten as much of the stain out as possible, clean the eraser with a wet cloth to remove any remaining stains. Allow it to air dry naturally.
Method 6- Baking Soda to Remove the Marker Stains from Wood Paneling
I once used this method to remove the permanent marker stains on the wood paneling. And it worked.
To use this method, make a baking soda paste with water by adding 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda to a bowl and water.
Stir nicely to form a paste with a fine-sand-like texture.
- Apply this baking soda paste to the marker stains on the wood paneling.
- Allow it to sit for a couple of minutes – do not let it dry.
- Using a dampened lint-free cotton cloth, gently rub the paste on the stained area.
- Finally, wipe it with another clean damp cloth.
Method 7- Mayonnaise for Removing Permanent Marker Stains from Wood
Mayonnaise or vegetable oil can also do an awesome job when you need to get rid of that marker stains from your wood surfaces.
- First, take a clean white cloth and soak it in mayonnaise or vegetable oil.
- Rub the stained area with the cloth until you see the stain coming off.
- If required, let it sit for about two to three minutes.
- Wipe the area with a clean damp cloth to remove the residue.
Method 8- Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to Erase the Black Marker Stains from Wood
This method requires some commercially available products but is more heavy-duty than other methods listed above.
You can use it if all the above fails or if you have a large area that’s stained with a permanent blue marker or black printer ink.
For this method, you will need Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and an Amodex Ink Stains Remover.
- Apply a little amount of stain remover to the marker spot you’re dealing with.
- Rub the marker stain gently in a circular motion using the magic eraser. The ink will come off as you rub, leaving behind only traces.
- Finally, use a wet cloth to clean the residues away from the unfinished or finished wood.
Method 9- Nail Polish Remover can Also do an Awesome Job of Cleaning Marker Stains
Using Nail polish remover (acetone) to get Sharpie off the finished wooden furniture is something I haven’t tried on because my desk was already ruined heavily.
So, I don’t want to ruin the surface further.
I should say that if you already have the paint or the varnish on your expensive furniture, it’s better to avoid this technique as it can take the finish off while removing the marker stains.
But if you want to take the risk and try this method or if the wood surface you are trying to clean is still bare, here’s what you need to do:
- Pour some nail polish remover into a bowl.
- Soak a clean white cloth in it.
- Rub the cloth over the stained area in a circular motion until the Sharpie comes off.
- Wipe it with a clean damp cloth to remove the residue.
- Finally, let it air dry or use a hairdryer to speed up the process.
What If All the Methods Fail to Clear the Marker Stains?
Although there is no such permanent marker that can withstand all the cleaning methods I have mentioned above, still sometimes you may find the stains unresponsive to any of the given treatments.
This especially happens when the markers have been sitting on the wood for a long time or the wood is too old to touch.
If you try various methods, such types of wood can get damaged easily.
In such cases, sanding down may be the only way to go. You can lightly sand away the stained layer and then refinish the wood with either a wood stain or paint.
This is a sure shot method, but it is also a little time-consuming. So, you must only go for it when nothing else works.
Also, make sure that you don’t sand too hard on your old wood, or else you may end up damaging the wood.
If you want to avoid sanding altogether, then you can also try painting over the stained area.
This way, you will be able to cover up the marker stains completely.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for more than a decade to serve the customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques that are being implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.
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