How to Get Permanent Marker Off Painted Wood? – 8 Ways

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

how to get permanent marker off painted wood

Fortunately, permanent markers are not completely permanent despite being regarded as resilient and fade-resistant.

As with every surface’s archenemy, you might have had trouble getting Sharpie off wood, or notice a permanent marking on the wooden floor as you walk down the hallway outside your room.

Regardless of the cause, free your worries because here are some simple methods you can follow on how to get permanent markers off painted wood.

Ways to Get Permanent Marker Off Painted Wood

The following are the materials and substances found at home and the step-by-step guide if you want to remove permanent markers from lacquered wood:

1. Rubbing Alcohol or Hand Sanitizer Gel


Aside from being a disinfectant, rubbing alcohol can remove Sharpie from painted wood since it aids in breaking off oils and other chemicals in Sharpie ink.

If without alcohol, you may use your hand sanitizer gels as an alternative. The contents differ slightly, but it still contains alcohol, which would likely have similar results as rubbing alcohol.

Note: Avoid using them on unfinished wood surfaces for hand sanitizer gels. Since it contains glycerine as an emollient, it might stain and darken or damage unfinished bare wood.

  1. Pour the right amount of rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer gel onto the soft cloth or cotton. You may also use a cotton swab for detailed or minor stains.
  2. To remove the marker stain start wiping the area with a cloth. You may carefully rub the surface, but avoid rubbing it too hard.
  3. Lastly, pat the area dry using a separate clean cloth after removing the residue.

2. Toothpaste


Aside from its uses in our dental health, you’d be surprised that the regular toothpaste you use every day can also remove permanent markers from painted wood.

Toothpaste contains mild abrasives (such as calcium carbonate), which makes it an effective Sharpie stain remover.

Follow the easy steps here:

  1. Apply the right amount of toothpaste on a piece of cloth.
  2. Slowly rub the fabric with toothpaste on the stained wooden surface. Ensure not to apply too much pressure when rubbing to prevent damaging the wood.
  3. Wipe away the paste using a damp cloth, and let the wood dry after the paste has been removed (you may use another material to completely get rid of the remaining paste).

3. Baking Soda-Based Toothpaste


You might have used baking sodas as a cleaning agent for removing tough stains in the kitchen. But did you know toothpaste brands containing baking soda could perform better in removing Sharpie stains from wood surfaces due to their gently abrasive quality?

To get Sharpie off a wooden table or any other wooden surface, you may follow the same procedure listed above when using toothpaste.

Note: In case you don’t have baking soda-based toothpaste, mix some baking soda into your regular toothpaste. Also, keep in mind that gel toothpaste will not work.

4. Baking Soda


The abrasive nature of sodium bicarbonate, or a.k.a baking soda, allows the marker dye’s removal without causing any interior damage or dissolution.

1. Simply mix a cup of baking soda together with warm water.

2. Using a stirrer or a tablespoon, stir the mixture until you have a cleaning paste.

Note: If the mixture contains too much water, you can gradually add baking soda to balance it out. Just make sure the paste isn’t too aqueous or sticky so it can penetrate the stain.

3. To get Sharpie off your table, rub the paste on the stains very gently. Wait for the paste to work for a few minutes (2-5 minutes), and wipe the area down with a damp fabric.

5. Isopropyl Acetone


Aside from its primary use, isopropyl acetone, a.k.a. a nail polish remover, is also one of the substances found at home to clean markers off the wood.

Acetone is a powerful cleaning solvent because it can be used for both light and heavy degreasing tasks. However, since acetone dissolves paint, this method must not be used on painted wooden furniture.

Here are some steps in using nail polish remover for permanent marker removal from wood:

  1. Fill the fabric with the appropriate amount of acetone-based or nail polish remover.
  2. Avoid scrubbing your stain too vigorously because doing so could harm your finished wood. Instead, lightly dab it with an acetone-based stain remover.
  3. Finally, use a clean cloth to dry the surface and wipe off the residues once the marker stain starts to come off.

6. Hairspray


Hairsprays are also one of the things you can use to remove the Sharpie markings from wood floors and other wooden surfaces.

Hairsprays contain about 25-50% alcohol, making them a suitable cleaning agent for permanent marker stains.

To remove the markings, you just need to: spray just the right amount of hairspray onto the area where the stain is located, and wipe the sprayed area gently with a clean, dry cloth.

7. Dry-Erase Markers


Dry-erase markers can also clean off the thick Sharpie’s sign stains on your wooden door or a painted wood surface!

Note: Remember that this method only applies to finished wood paneling or surfaces.

You only need to draw or scribble over the marked stains with a suitable dry-erase marker. Then, wipe it gently using a clean, dry, or slightly damp cloth.

If you don’t want to risk it, there are available markers for wood stains that you can purchase at local or online shops. It even comes in various wood colors!

8. Magic Erasers


Suppose you still need more than the results of any of the products mentioned earlier. In that case, a magic eraser may be your way to go!

A magic eraser is typically made up of melamine, which can eliminate the Sharpie markings found on your wood cabinets!

To take permanent markers off wood using magic erasers, you have to dampen the magic eraser and then rub the permanent marker stain off the surface, and voilà!

Note: Just keep in mind not to rub the surface too hard, as it might literally erase or damage the finishing of your wood.


How do you get dried permanent markers off of wood?

Rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizer gels are the best solutions to get rid of sharpie on wood surfaces. You can watch the video below if you need assistance choosing a product.

Can I use fine-grade sandpaper as a marker stain remover?

Yes, you may use fine-grade sandpaper, but remember to exercise caution and test a small, discrete area before moving forward with more extensive treatment. Sanding wood effectively removes stains from permanent markers. However, this method might only be effective, especially on unfinished wood.

Is getting rid of permanent markers from wood damage the finish?

Removing permanent markers from wood may damage the finish, especially if the wood has a delicate or thin finish. Some methods, such as abrasive cleaning supplies or sanding, can remove the stain but may also remove the top layer of the finish.

Do wood pieces with permanent markers need to be removed by a professional?

Generally, getting permanent marker stains off of wood surfaces can be done without hiring a professional. However, there are some circumstances in which it may be wise to seek professional help. Such as when your wooden furniture is rare or old, the stain is tough to remove, or you are just unsure of your ability to remove marker stains.


You can use various household items to help you learn how to get permanent markers off painted wood. And this guide is only one of the many that are available.

In the end, it is still advisable to test a small, hidden area first before continuing with a larger treatment, as with any cleaning task.

And finally, to avoid damaging surfaces or injuring yourself or others, you should always handle cleaning supplies and other cleaning agent products with caution.


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