A Parent’s Guide On How To Get Permanent Marker Off Wood

Permanent marker stains are part of life. Here is a parent’s guide on how to get permanent marker off wood will help. Removing permanent marker stains from wood is easy.

how to get permanent marker off wood

There are many DIY permanent marker removal remedies. Some are simple, while others are risky.

The following DIY ink stain removal ideas will help you. 

Types Of “Wood” 

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There are many types of wood furniture and hardwood floors. However, with mahogany, it’s the same when removing ink stains.

With oak or birch, the harder the wood, the more difficult it is to stain. Soft wood absorbs stains. The same is true for unfinished wood.

Real Wood Vs. Laminated Wood

Countertops, cabinets, floors, and furniture do not use real wood. Laminate or laminated wood surfaces are easier to clean.  

Finished wood will stain. Laminated wood surfaces have a layer of protection. You can remove permanent marker stains without damaging the surface.

Cleaning laminated wood is the same as a dry-erase board. If it’s real wood, it won’t be easy. Before you remove an ink stain, see if you’re dealing with finished or unfinished wood.

Finished Vs. Unfinished Wood

Finished wood is varnished, lacquered, or waxed. The finish protects it from absorbing stains. This is great because a permanent marker won’t hurt the wood.

However, when removing marker stains, you don’t want to hurt the finish. Try mild substances first. With unfinished wood, the rules change.

Unfinished wood absorbs whatever touches it. If it gets wet, it will become soaked. If it’s stained with ink, the ink will bleed and expand. It will be harder to remove the stains, but not impossible.

You can apply more pressure with unfinished wood, but don’t damage it. The same goes for painted vs. unpainted wood. You can damage it painted would even if it’s protected.

How To Get Permanent Marker Off Wood With Toothpaste

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There are many ways to remove permanent marker stains from wood. Toothpaste is great and safe. The texture also helps buff the wood. Do not use too much pressure when removing a stain.  

Toothpaste has an active ingredient that helps remove stains. Toothpaste that has baking soda is better. You can use baking soda and water for similar results.

Remember, do not mix toothpaste with harsh crystals. 

Here is the best way to remove permanent marker stains from wood with toothpaste or baking soda. 

Apply The Toothpaste

Apply toothpaste to the stain. Use more than you would for brushing your teeth. Let it soak while you move to the next step.

Get A Damp Washcloth

You’ll need a wet reg, but make sure it’s not dripping wet. It should be well-saturated and damp. The water temperature doesn’t matter, so use what you think is right.

Rub Toothpaste In

Use the rag to rub the toothpaste in a circular motion over the stain. Small, round motions won’t hurt the wood’s grain. Apply little pressure. Do this until the stain disappears. 

If you notice the wood is disturbed, remove the toothpaste, and dry it.

Get A Clean Cloth And Wash

Once the stain is gone, or after rubbing for five minutes, use a new damp cloth. This time, wipe the toothpaste away in the direction of the grain of the wood. Remove all the toothpaste. 

Use another clean cloth halfway through if you feel the one you are using is too dirty. 

Dry And Repeat If Necessary

Use the third rag to dry the wood. Start by buffing it in a round motion and end by wiping it back and forth, following the grain. If most of the stain is removed but not gone, repeat the same steps.  

Substances To Remove Permanent Marker From Wood

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Toothpaste can remove permanent marker stains from wood. It’s not always strong enough to do the job. These substances should do the trick. If they all fail, you can consult a pro or buy a strong wood cleaner. 

Rubbing Alcohol

Almost every home has one bottle of rubbing alcohol. It’s useful when removing permanent marker stains. It will not harm wood surfaces.

If you want to test it, you can dilute it with water before trying it at 100 percent strength. 


Hairspray is an effective way to remove permanent marker stains on wood. Some hairsprays don’t work as well as others. Check the chemical contents before using it. If it has alcohol, then it should work well.

Fingernail Polish Remover

Acetone-based nail polish remover is a homemaker’s magic potion. It can remove just about anything from just about any surface. It is strong, so don’t use too much on wood surfaces.

Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer contains alcohol. It also comes in a gel and is easier to use than liquids. If you’re lucky enough to have some, try using it like you would toothpaste.

Magic Eraser

This may be a favorite because it’s so easy. All you need is a wet magic eraser and wipe the marker away. It may take a little elbow grease, but it’s more effective than most methods. Not to mention, it’s safe.

Dry-Erase Marker

Use this method on finished surfaces. You can also test it. Draw over the permanent marker with a dry-erase marker. Then erase it with a dry eraser.

This doesn’t work for every surface. The dry-erase marker removes the ink stain while the eraser tackles the dry-erase stain. It’s bold, but it works.

Warnings And Tips

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As with every home DIY remedy, there are words to heed before you begin removing permanent marker from wood. Make sure you read these tips before pouring nail polish remover over your favorite rocker.


Sandpaper works well with other substances. Use it before and after you apply a substance to the wood. Be careful as it can harm paint and other finishes. The smaller the grain, the safer it is.

No Scrubbing

As tempting as it is to use a scrub brush, don’t. Scrubbing can remove stains, and damage wood surfaces. If you want to scrub, use a microfiber cloth or soft sponge. 


If you remove the paint, don’t worry. You can refinish the spot yourself. Sandpaper will smooth the stained spot. You’ll need to find out which paint or finish the wood has.

You can ask a pro and they will tell you which color you should use. 


For best results, and to ease your mind, test each method out on a non-exposed area. This can be the backside of a cabinet, the bottom of a rocking chair, or the corner of hardwood flooring. Just make sure your method doesn’t damage your wood.

Gel Toothpaste

If you use toothpaste, make sure it is classic white. Gel toothpaste won’t work well and can damage the wood. Soft, white toothpaste, not whitening toothpaste is your best bet.

Don’t Forget The Skin

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When permanent marker stains a floor it’s because someone had an accident. While many of these substances may work on skin, they’re not all safe for skin, the skin of a toddler.

One proven method to remove permanent marker from skin is makeup remover. Check the warnings on the bottle before you begin.  

Mothers have said it removes over 90 percent of all stains within minutes. It might be the best way to remove ink stains from wood.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How Do You Remove Dried Sharpie From Wood?

Rubbing alcohol is best for removing dried Sharpie stains from wood. Every home medicine cabinet has a bottle of isopropyl alcohol. It’s the cheapest DIY ink stain remover you find today.

Use a dry cloth and pour some alcohol over it. Do not rub the cloth over the stain, You want to dab it until the stain is gone.

What Are Some Whiteboard Cleaning Hacks?

More homes today have at least one whiteboard. You can remove the stain if you use the wrong marker.

First, draw over the ink marks with a dry erase marker. Let it dry and then remove the eraser marks with a whiteboard eraser. When cleaning the stains, it should remove the permanent ones. marks away.

As a backup, toothpaste will also remove permanent marker stains from a whiteboard.

How Do You Remove Sharpie Marks From A Wall?

You might find this hard to believe but removing Sharpie marks from a wall is super easy. All you need is a magic eraser and Windex. If you don’t have Windex, water will work the same.

Spray the stained area and wipe away the Sharpie stain. Do not apply too much pressure. The goal is to remove the stain without damaging your wall.

How Can You Remove Permanent Marker Off A Polyurethane Finished Table?

Most kitchen tabletops have a polyurethane finish. The finish protects the wood. When your table is stained with permanent ink, do not freak out.

All you need is a towel and rubbing alcohol. For big ink stains, use a little fingernail polish remover.

How Can You Remove Permanent Marker From Melamine Desks?

Permanent ink stains also happen in offices. If your melamine desk at work is stained, don’t worry there’s an easy remedy.

Instead of using a towel or rag, you’ll need a few cotton swabs. You’ll need rubbing alcohol, hairspray, fingernail polish remover, and a water bottle.

Spray the ink stain and with your cotton balls, wipe the stain off your desk.

Permanent Marker Removal Conclusion

When wood items at home are stained with permanent marker ink, the last thing you want to do is panic. There is a chance you have a DIY remedy at your fingertips, but you’re not aware of it.

The most important thing to remember is whatever homemade wood-cleaning method you choose, do not apply too much pressure to the ink stain.