It’s nothing short of doomsday for your wood furniture when your toddler lays their hands on a permanent marker.

Mischievous or docile, young kids seem to have an innate ability to find well-hidden Sharpies, and you end up exasperated trying to remove permanent marker from various surfaces.

While some doodling may make for great family history, it’s a different story when it’s on expensive wood furniture or the wood flooring in a rented apartment. Unlike accidental permanent marker stains on dry-erase boards, permanent marker stains in a rented apartment can cost you a chunk of your security deposit.

However, you can easily turn your kid’s masterpieces into temporary art installations with a few handy tips. If it’s memorable art work, just snap a photo before you clean it up.

before and after using magic eraser

While you can buy a wide variety of specialized cleaners, some common household items work surprisingly well on permanent marker stains and are very cost-effective.

Here are five simple methods to remove permanent marker from wood.

Method 1: Use Toothpaste

before and after using toothpaste

Toothpaste can remove permanent marker ink from wood because of its formulation. It contains fine abrasives that help scrub out the stains set in the grain of the wood without scratching the finish. However, you need to be conservative with the amount of the toothpaste to protect the finish of the wood surface.

Things you’ll need:

things you'll need to use toothpaste to remove permanent marker from wood

  • White toothpaste (acts as fine abrasive)
  • Water
  • Dish towel
  • Towel

Step 1. Rub some toothpaste on the ink stain

rub some toothpaste on the ink stain

  • Squeeze some toothpaste onto the permanent ink stain.
  • Rub the toothpaste over the stain with a dish towel. You should use enough toothpaste so that the dish towel slides freely over the surface.
  • Keep working the area until all the ink is removed. You may need to work on it for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the extent of the stains.

Step 2. Wipe off the toothpaste and let the wood dry

wipe off the toothpaste

  • Dip a towel into some water and squeeze out the excess liquid.
  • Wipe off the toothpaste with the damp towel. It may take a couple of passes to get it all off.
  • Let the area dry completely.

final removed ink stain using toothpaste

Method 2: Use a Magic Eraser

before and after using magic eraser

You can survive this bout of permanent ink on wood furniture or flooring with your trusty Magic Eraser. It’s made of melamine foam that is soft but has abrasive properties like extremely fine sandpaper.

All it takes is a few steady swipes with a damp Magic Eraser to remove the ink. The water activates the cleaning agents contained in the Magic Eraser.

However, be careful when cleaning laminated or high-gloss wood surfaces, as it may take the varnish off. It’s always best to do a spot test on an area that’s not visible before proceeding with your cleaning work.

Single-Step Method: Remove the permanent ink stain with a Magic Eraser

scrub the stain with magic eraser

  • Wet the Magic Eraser with a little water.
  • Scrub at the permanent ink with the damp Magic Eraser to get the stain out. Be gentle in your scrubbing, so as not to harm the finish.
  • Keep at it until you’ve gotten all of the stain out.
  • Give it a final wipe to remove any residual cleaning agents, then let the wood dry completely.

final removed permanent marker stain using magic eraser

Method 3: Use Hand Sanitizer

before and after using hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizers are not just for maintaining proper hand hygiene. They also come in handy for removing permanent marker stains, even on a wood surface. Hand sanitizers that are alcohol-based act as a solvent for permanent marker ink. They reactivate the ink, allowing you to easily wipe the stain off.

Things you’ll need:

things you'll need to use hand sanitizer to remove permanent marker from wood

  • Hand sanitizer, alcohol-based (acts as a solvent)
  • Towel

Step 1. Cover the ink stain with hand sanitizer

cover the ink stain with hand santizer

  • Squirt some hand sanitizer onto the permanent marker stain on the wood surface.
  • Use enough to cover the stain entirely.

Step 2. Scrub out the stain with a towel

scrub out the stain

  • Scrub at the stain with a towel to remove the loosened ink.
  • Continue until the entire stain is gone.
  • Wipe off any residual hand sanitizer, then let the wood dry completely.

final removed permanent marker stain using hand sanitizer

Method 4: Use Rubbing Alcohol

before and after using rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is an obvious solution to permanent marker stains, as it acts as an effective solvent for the ink. When used in an appropriate amount, rubbing alcohol can safely remove ink stains from wood without damaging the lacquer or vinyl finish.

Things you’ll need:

things you'll need to use rubbing alcohol to remove permanent marker from wood

  • Rubbing alcohol (acts as a solvent)
  • Paper towel
  • Towel

Step 1. Soak the end of a towel with rubbing alcohol

soak a towel with rubbing alcohol

  • Pour some rubbing alcohol on the end of a towel, soaking it.

Step 2. Use it to scrub out the stain

scrub out the stain

  • Scrub at the permanent ink with the alcohol-soaked end of the towel. You’ll notice that the ink slowly lifts from the surface and onto the towel.
  • Continue until all the ink is removed.

Step 3. Wipe the area clean with a paper towel

wipe the area with paper towel

  • Once the ink is sufficiently removed, wipe the wood surface with a paper towel.
  • Let the wood dry completely.

final removed permanent marker using rubbing alcohol

Method 5: Use Shaving Foam

before and after using shaving foam

Although it may not produce results as good as the other methods, you can try using shaving foam if you don’t have any of the other items on hand. Always be sure to only use white shaving foam for ink stain removal.

Shaving foam can also be used to defog mirrors and windows.

Things you’ll need:

things you'll need to use shaving foam to remove permanent marker from wood

  • Shaving foam (contains solvents)
  • Paper towel
  • Towel

Step 1. Cover the stain with shaving foam and scrub it out

cover the stain with shaving foam

  • Squirt some shaving foam on the permanent ink, covering the stain entirely.
  • Scrub the stained area with a towel to remove the ink from the wood surface.

Step 2. Wipe it clean with a paper towel

wipe it clean

  • When the ink stain is sufficiently gone, wipe the surface clean with a paper towel.
  • Let the wood dry completely.

final removed permanent marker using shaving foam

 Tips

  • Spot test any cleaning agent in a discreet area before using it to remove stains from wood surfaces.
  • If you end up scratching the wood with a Magic Eraser, just rub a walnut over the wood to remove the scratch marks. The oils in the walnut are great at polishing moderate to dark wood.
  • Cut your Magic Erasers in half to make them last longer. This also makes it easier to use the abrasive eraser only on the stained area.
  • Keep the bottle of the rubbing alcohol tightly capped and away from the wood surface to prevent any chance of a spill. Large amounts of rubbing alcohol can eat through the lacquer or vinyl finish on wood surfaces and damage the wood as well.