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How to Remove Permanent Markers from a Wooden Table?

how to remove permanent markers from a wooden table

So, your kids decided that it would be great to surprise you with a drawing but did it on your antique hardwood table? Don’t pull your hair out just yet. There are many ways for you to still salvage your tabletop. The good news is that you will not be spending too much money on the process.

Even though the label says “permanent marker”, there are many simple ways how to remove permanent markers from a wooden table. In fact, you do not even need to buy additional tools and cleaning materials. You may already have everything you need at home.

Step-by-Step Guide

Using Rubbing Alcohol

using rubbing alcohol

You surely have at least one bottle of rubbing alcohol at home. Not only is it a great disinfectant but it also works as a good mild solvent.

What to prepare:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Clean and soft rags

Detailed steps:

Step 1 – Apply alcohol on a test spot

Although it is very unlikely that rubbing alcohol will discolor the finish on your wooden table, it is better to err on the side of caution. Dab a bit of rubbing alcohol on a hidden part of the table, like a corner underneath the tabletop.

Wait a couple of minutes and examine the area. If you can’t find any noticeable discoloration, you can continue with the next steps.

Step 2 – Scrub the stain with alcohol

Pour a bit of isopropyl alcohol on a clean rag and directly on the permanent ink marker stain. Scrub the stain vigorously using the rag until all traces of the ink have been absorbed.

If the permanent marker ink has not been given enough time to set into the surface of the wood, one pass should do. However, if there are still some traces of the ink on the surface, go over it again with more isopropyl alcohol.

Using Vodka

using vodka

If you do not have some rubbing alcohol but you have cheap vodka lying around, you can use that to clean permanent marker stains off your wooden tabletop. Of course, vodka does contain alcohol but not as much as rubbing alcohol. Despite that, you can still expect this method to work.

What to prepare:

  • Vodka
  • Clean and soft rags

Detailed steps:

Step 1 – Dab the vodka on the stains

Douse a clean rag with enough cheap vodka to soak it. Dab the vodka all over the stained area. Make sure that you cover the entire stain with vodka. Allow the vodka to sit on the stain for a minute or two. Since it does not evaporate as fast as rubbing alcohol, you can wait for the alcohol to work more.

Step 2 – Wipe away the stain

Add more vodka to the rag and then wipe away the permanent marker ink stain. The first application should have softened and lifted the ink off the surface of the wood, so it will be much easier to remove. If there are still some remaining stains, repeat steps 1 and 2 until all the ink stains are gone.

Using Hand Sanitizing Gel

using hand sanitizing gel

The reason why hand sanitizing gel works so well is that it contains alcohol. However, this product is also known for being highly effective because the gel where the alcohol is suspended prevents it from evaporating quickly. This allows the alcohol to work longer. This is also what makes it great at removing permanent marker stains.

What to prepare:

  • Gel hand sanitizers, preferably something unscented and clear
  • Clean rags

Detailed steps:

Step 1 – Do a test spot first

If you only have hand sanitizer that has a bit of color, you should try it first on a part of the table that you would not typically see, like underneath one corner. Apply a bit of hand sanitizer on your test spot and check if it does not stain the surface. If you find that the hand sanitizer is rather harmless, you can continue with the next steps.

Step 2 – Smear hand sanitizer on the stain

Take your bottle of hand sanitizer and place a glob of the product all over the permanent marker stain. You should place a liberal amount of hand sanitizer and then rub it using your finger. Continue rubbing until the ink is lifted off the surface and mixed into the gel.

Step 3 – Wipe off the hand sanitizer gel

Before the hand sanitizer evaporates, grab a clean rag and wipe it off the surface. This will prevent the ink from staying on the surface. The rag will pick up the ink suspended in the hand sanitizer gel. Check if the permanent marker stain is removed completely, and repeat the steps if necessary.


Now that you know how to remove permanent markers from a wooden table, seeing them will no longer faze you. Thanks to wooden table surfaces often being non-porous, the permanent marker ink should just be on the surface of the wood. This makes it easy to remove the stain using weak solvents.

The methods above are quite easy, unlike how to remove paragraph markers in word. Most of these methods only require simple tools and materials. So, when you do find ink stains on your prized table, you can now easily clean them without spending any money.

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