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How to Get Permanent Marker Off Wood

How to Get Permanent Marker Off Wood

Kids are cute; however, most of them like turning the hardwood floors or furniture into their canvas as they grow up. While permanent markers can cause severe damage to certain surfaces, such as marble, you can remove them from wooden surfaces with a little bit of patience and hard work.

Using very simple removal methods, you can get a permanent marker stain off a wood floor or a wooden surface. However, test the techniques in an inconspicuous spot before using them to remove stains. Remember that you might experience different results if your wood is unfinished, finished, or stained.

Here is how you can get permanent marker stains off wood surfaces without damaging them:

What Removes Sharpie Writing?

You can rely on several methods to remove sharpie writing stains from several wooden surfaces, such as a finished wood table or wood floor. It’s best to understand whether your chosen method can damage your wood surface before using it. Here are some popular techniques of getting permanent marker stains off wood surfaces:

Use Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is an affordable and very effective solution for dealing with permanent marker stains in wood. If you have some in your medicine cabinet, you can use it to eliminate permanent marker stains from wood as below:

  • First, pour some rubbing alcohol into a clean and dry cotton cloth.
  • Dab the spot with the wet cloth until the marker stains start to lift. Ensure that you dab and not rub to avoid damaging your wooden surface.
  • Wipe the residue with a slightly damp cotton cloth and pat dry.

You might have to repeat the above process severally before you eradicate the stain. However, stop applying the rubbing alcohol if you note any discoloration or stain on your cotton cloth.

Check this too: How to Remove Oil Stains from a Kitchen Wall


Do not fret if someone vandalized your wood door using a permanent marker; you can use vodka to eliminate the stains. However, be sure to use plain vodka because the sugars in flavored vodka can worsen the permanent marker stains.

Soak a clean and dry cotton cloth in vodka, and lightly dab the stains. You should notice the permanent marker stains lifting from the wood surface onto the cotton cloth. You can repeat the process as much as needed to ensure that you get rid of all the stains.

Hand Sanitizer Gel

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel can help remove permanent marker spots from your wooden surface. All you have to do is to drip a little bit of the hand sanitizer gel onto the affected spot and use a soft cloth to wipe the stain and the gel away.

How to Get Permanent Marker off Wood Without Alcohol

You don’t have to use alcohol only when eliminating permanent marker stains off wood surfaces. You can try these methods if you’re looking for a way to remove stains that doesn’t involve alcohol:

Nail Polish Remover

If your nail polish remover contains acetone, then you can use it to remove permanent marker stains from a wooden surface by following these steps:

  • Pour some nail polish remover on a clean and dry cloth.
  • Use the cloth to dab the stain lightly. You should avoid rubbing because nail polish remover can damage wood finishes.
  • Repeat the process to eliminate all permanent marker stains on the affected wood area.

It’s best to test the nail polish remover method in an inconspicuous spot before using it on an entire surface.


Hairspray can do a lot more than keeping your hair looking sleek. It can remove all kinds of stains, including permanent marker stains on wood. All you have to do is spray the stain with some hairspray and wipe the residue away using a piece of cloth. You should see the permanent marker stain begin to lift immediately.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is one of the most used ingredients when making homemade cleaners. The good news is that you can also use it to remove permanent marker stains off wood. Here is how to do it:

  • First, create a paste using water and baking soda.
  • Then, gently rub the paste into the marker stains in circular motions.
  • Repeat the process if necessary until the stain begins to lift.

Dry-Erase Board Cleaner

If you have a painted wood surface or feel extra bold, or if your wood surface is stained with opaque stain, then you could try drawing over the permanent marker stain with a dry eraser marker. Wipe the markings away once done. The process seems counterintuitive; however, it often works on finished surfaces. Don’t attempt this solution on unfinished or natural wood surfaces.

Magic Erasers

You can use magic erasers to remove stains from finished wood surfaces. However, ensure that you stick to very gentle spot treatments because rubbing the surface too hard can lift the finish and eventually damage the wood.

Fine Grit Sandpaper

You should only use this method on unfinished wood because fine-grit sandpaper on finished or stained wood will remove the finish or paint.

Your best bet is to use fine-grit sandpaper on unfinished wood because the marker can spread through lumber and unfinished wood. Sanding the area using fine-grit sandpaper will gently remove some minor layers of the wood’s surface and eventually lighten the stain. However, do not sand too aggressively in one area because you risk wearing a spot into the wood’s surface. You can opt for more extensive strokes instead.

Can Toothpaste Erase Permanent Marker from Wood Cabinets?

Toothpaste is one of the most effective and safest ways of removing permanent markers from wood. Its texture helps to buff the wood and gently scrape the permanent marker, while its ingredients can remove the stains.

Toothpaste that contains baking soda works well in eliminating stains. However, be sure to avoid using toothpaste that has harsh crystals. You can remove the stains by following these steps:

  • Apply a generous amount of toothpaste on the permanent marker stains. Let the toothpaste soak for a moment before moving to the next step.
  • Get a damp washcloth and rub the toothpaste in circular motions. Ensure that you rub in small, circular motions to avoid disturbing the grain of the wood. Be very gentle, but apply a bit of pressure. Continue with this procedure until the stain begins to disappear.
  • If the wood becomes disturbed, remove the toothpaste immediately and dry the wood. Be gentle to avoid any further damage.
  • Get another damp cloth if the stains disappear or if you’ve rubbed for more than five minutes. Wipe the toothpaste away in the direction of the grain of the wood and remove all of the toothpaste. You can get another damp cloth if you feel like the one you’re using is becoming too dirty.
  • Get another rag and dry the wood. You can start by softly buffing the wood in a circular motion and end by wiping it back and forth while following the grain. You can repeat the steps above if the stain is better but not gone.

What to Avoid When Removing Permanent Marker off Wood

It’s best to understand what you should avoid when removing permanent marker stains from wood to prevent damaging it. Here is what you should avoid:

  • When dealing with permanent marker stains on wood, don’t use a scrubby sponge because scrubbing hard can damage wood surfaces. Instead, scrub gently using a clean microfiber cloth or a very soft and clean sponge if you want to scrub.
  • Avoid using sandpaper to remove permanent marker stains unless you’re dealing with unfinished wood.
  • Don’t apply the cleanser to a large area. Try it in an inconspicuous spot first, and not the whole surface.

Does WD-40 Remove Sharpie?

WD-40 is a commercial cleaner that has several uses in the home, including removing sharpie. However, WD-40 contains many chemicals; therefore, you should take precautions, such as proper ventilation before using it. You can use it to remove sharpie by following these steps:

  • First, spray some WD-40 directly onto the marker stain.
  • Next, scrub the area gently with a clean, dry cloth to remove the stain.
  • Repeat the two steps above if needed to ensure that you’ve removed the stains.

How to Remove Sharpie from a Finished Wood Table

Finding a sharpie on your finished wood table can be very frightening; however, you can remove it using appropriate methods and products to ensure that your wood is not damaged. If you find sharpie marks on your finished wood table, ensure that you remove them as soon as possible to increase your chances of succeeding. Here is how to do it:

  • Dampen a rag slightly using plain water. Then, gently rub the rag over the stain to remove any ink that might still be wet.
  • Squeeze some white toothpaste over the sharpie stain. However, avoid using gel toothpaste or abrasives, peroxide, or bleach because they might damage the wood.
  • Use your fingers to rub the toothpaste gently onto the table. Let the toothpaste sit on the wood for several minutes.
  • Gently scrub the stained area of the wood table using a damp rag. Ensure that you rub in the direction of the wood grain while applying steady pressure.
  • Continue scrubbing gently until the stain has lifted.
  • Wipe the table using a clean, damp cloth to eliminate the toothpaste residue, and then buff the table with a dry rag.
  • If the stain persists, you can use rubbing alcohol to eliminate it. First, apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol on a clean, dry rag. Next, gently rub the alcohol over the sharpie stain until you remove it. Next, wipe the table with a damp rag and buff it dry.

How to Get Permanent Marker off Wood Paneling

You can use magic erasers to remove permanent marker stains off wood. However, stick to gentle spot treatments because rubbing too hard can damage the wood.

Using magic erasers on your wood paneling might seem like a lot of work, but it eventually gets the job done without damaging it, especially if you stick to gentle spot treatments.

If the permanent marker stains are on your wood surfaces, there is a high probability that someone had an accident with the markers. While many of the solutions discussed above might work on skin, they’re not all safe for the skin, especially a toddler’s skin.

If you want to remove permanent marker stains from the skin, you can do so using makeup remover; however, check the instructions and warnings on the bottle first before getting to work.

Check this too: How to Remove Spray Paint From Glass

If you want to remove permanent marker stains from a wood surface, be ready to go through several rounds of gentle cleaning using a clean, dry cloth and the methods discussed above. Always remember to test your solution in an inconspicuous spot to ensure that it won’t damage the surface or finish of your wooden item.