How to Remove Permanent Marker from Wood - wood planks stained with paint

How to Remove Permanent Marker from Wood

If you’re searching for how to remove permanent marker from wood, you’ve probably experienced some sort of ‘accident’ at home. All parents struggle with the constant worry of their toddlers obsessing with pens, crayons, and making messes around the house! No matter how hard you try, your kids always end up discovering some sort of something,like a permanent marker, they can use mischievously.

That’s not all either! Maybe you took up carpentry recently and marked areas for your ease so you don’t end up messing anything — only to find out that marker was a bad idea because the stains are now too rigid.

One way or another, it’s actually sort of common to get your wooden furniture, floors, or walls marked with a permanent marker’s ink that just won’t come off, no matter what you try.

However, what most people don’t know is that there are a good number of home remedies that you can employ in order to get rid of all those ugly stains.

You no longer have to discard your stained wooden tables or cover your marked wooden floors with fancy rugs, because we have you one-hundred-percent covered.

If you’re wondering how to remove permanent marker from wood, our main aim here is to deliver to you all the solutions that different people have come up with over the years in order to fix such permanent stains. We promise to keep this article as simple and convenient for you as possible!

What Makes the Permanent Markers “Permanent?”

Permanent markers are great — as long as they’re not in your baby’s hands!

Permanent markers have the ability to adhere to almost any surface they’re used on. Mostly, it’s their quality of being water resistant that lets them stay on many surfaces for such long periods.

There are also a few other factors that give them their ability to stick around for long, including the dye or pigmentation added to them.

If you are more curious about what makes up a permanent marker work, follow the provided link.

Easy Home-Based Fixes for Marker Stained Wood

We all can collectively agree that marker stains are uglier than any other spots that mark your wood. However, just because you have a crafty child, you don’t have to avoid buying wooden furniture or discard any “spoiled” wood products.

It’s true, the rigidity of permanent marker stains is very frustrating. It seems like nothing is working to remove them and their marks are also a little too visible to be left alone.

Through this article, we want to erase the misconception of permanent markers really being permanent. We want to extend our help to anyone who is struggling with a similar stain on their wooden products by listing down all the home remedies that help get rid of them!

A very important tip to keep in your mind is that fresh stains are easier to take off than stains that have been there for a long time. So, just because you know the remedies to get rid of them, you shouldn’t delay fixing the problem too much.

Below, we’ve listed down all the possible solutions that we could gather from our extensive research that could possibly help you remove permanent marker stains from your wood:

  • Applying Toothpaste —This is the most effective method of getting permanent ink stains out of wood. A white, non-gel toothpaste will do the magic (any other kind is not recommended).

All you need to do is squeeze an adequate amount of toothpaste on the stain. Make the layer thick but try not to let it spread outside of the stain.

Then, take any available soft cloth or towel, and dampen it under a running tap. Make sure it’s just dampened, and not dripping wet.

With that dampened towel or cloth, rub onto the toothpaste, applying moderate pressure. Make circular movements for about five to six minutes. After that, wipe off the surface with the clean end of the dampened towel, or use another one.

If the stain doesn’t come off, just repeat the process. Do it as many times as you have to. If it still doesn’t work, substitute toothpaste with either a little amount of rubbing alcohol, or use baking soda for gentle abrasion.

  • Using Baking Soda —Baking soda can also be itself used to help get rid of the permanent marker stain. For this method, you will be mixing equal parts baking soda and water to make a homemade paste (alternatively, try two parts baking soda and one part water if you’re not too worried about the wood underneath).

Apply this paste on the stain that needs to be cleaned and then rub it gently in circular motions with either your fingers or any soft cloth. Don’t apply too much pressure as baking soda’s consistency may scratch the surface due to abrasion.

Keep repeating the process as many times as you need until the stain is gone. If the baking soda leaves its own cloudy mark, use a little rubbing alcohol to remove it.

  • Employing the Use of Rubbing Alcohol —Again, similar to the baking soda methods, rubbing alcohol can be used independently to help remove the spot.

Pour a good amount of rubbing alcohol (isopropyl will work too) on a piece of fabric. Then use this fabric to rub the stain rather softly, but over and over again, until the mark is no more.

You can then clean the rubbing alcohol residue with a wet towel, or rinse the wood some other way with water (be sure to dry it too).

  • Scrubbing with a Nail Polish Remover —Nail polish remover does just as good of a job here as it does on your nails!

If you want to clean using a nail polsih remover, just repeat the process that is used for the rubbing alcohol method.

Pour it on a fabric, and rub the fabric on the marked area until the spot is gone.

At the end, wipe the surface of the wood off with a clean, wet, paper towel or cloth, whichever is accessible.

  • Rubbing Hand Sanitizer Gels —You can also pour a fair amount of hand sanitiser gel onto the stain and rub it in circles with a soft fabric. 

Keep repeating the motion till the spot disappears, which it will, because sanitisers also contain alcohol and alcohol is great for removing permanent marker stains!

Clean the excess sanitizer gel with water.

One additional note, hand sanitizer won’t work as well as a pure alcohol.

  • Applying Peanut Butter —As surprising as it sounds, it’s pretty effective!

This method is employed the same way as a toothpaste, just substitute the paste with peanut butter.

At the end of this process, just rinse the surface of the wood to make sure no residue of peanut butter remains on it.

In any case, just avoid any sort of aggressive or harsh scrubbing as this will cause more damage to the wood.

Actions to Avoid

When you’re treating the stain, don’t forget that your goal is to remove the ink to make your wood look good as new. You do not want to be harsh when cleaning because that could cause the wood to end up in an even worse form!

There are certain actions that people tend to adopt when they’re cleaning their stained woods. These actions have a highly negative impact on the surface of the wood, causing way more damage than the permanent marker spot ever did.

For instance, people casually employ the use of rough or harsh fabrics, or even rigid sponges, to clean the spots. It is highly important to always use a soft cloth or a soft sponge when you’re rubbing it on wood.

Harsh fabrics will end up scratching the wood and make it look worse.

Another common habit is being careless with the amount of cleaner you are using. Only treat the spot of wood that needs it, not the whole surface.

Excessive cleaning materials will spread to unaffected areas and could cause unwanted effects. Cleaners often give wood an unfinished look and we don’t want a whole table looking like that.

One extra thing to remember is that sanding is not a solution to this problem. When less rigid stains are involved, sanding is employed because not much gritting is needed. However, to remove a whole permanent marker stain needs way more grinding and you might actually end up ruining your piece of wood.

Grinding can make the surface of wood look unpolished and uneven. Of course, if you’re already working with an unfinished piece of wood, sanding is a good solution to get rid of those market spots.

Seeking Professional Help

It’s okay to admit that despite trying every possible remedy, you have failed to remove the stain from your wood.

This can either occur because the stain has been there for too long or because it’s not just a stain, but a whole artist masterpiece by your child.

In such cases, we recommend that you do not keep pushing yourself to remove the stain at home and rather drop it off to a professional.

This is because with all these remedies come the possibility of aftereffects. When small areas of spots are involved, they don’t show much and hence the tips work fine. But when whole areas of defects are involved, the result is a rough looking piece of furniture, flooring, or wall.

So, it’s better to seek professional help in such circumstances so that you can prevent yourself from doing any more damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Sanding Be Considered as a Last Solution?

No, don’t consider it a solution at all.

As mentioned previously, sanding can only be considered as an option when unfinished wood is involved.

If you feel like nothing else is working and you need to grit the stain off, we recommend you to seek professional help instead.

However, if you have managed to get the majority of the stain out and need only a little sanding assist, it may be an option (at your own risk).

Do the Mentioned Solutions Ruin the Finishing of Wood?

It’s possible, but usually this is only the case if you use excessive force or cleaning agents.

Mostly, very minute damage is done and hence, it’s not too noticeable. Of course, this also depends on the cleaner used.

In case you think it needs a new finish, it’s always safe to polish that area again!

Can I Employ More than One Cleaning Method for Just One Stain?

Yes, you can.

However, you need to be very careful and slow in the process. This is because the more ways you use to help you get rid of the stain, the higher your chances are of messing up the finishing of the wood.

Yes, you can always polish it, but that’s not our preference. We want a solution that does the least damage to any factor and leaves us with clean wood.

Final Thoughts

By reaching the end of this guide, you have gained enough knowledge regarding all the easy home-based remedies you can use in order to fix your wooden furniture, floors, ornaments, or walls.

No matter what it is that you need to make your wood presentable once again, we have compiled enough solutions for at least one to work out for you.

You cannot stop children from messing things up, but you can always fix their messes!