How to Get Permanent Marker off a Table

Lisa Wampler

Permanent marker and a crafty child usually equal disaster at some point in time. If you should happen upon a table full of beautiful scribbles, don’t panic. Permanent marker is not really permanent; these marks can be removed should they accidentally wind up on your table.

There are several ways to remove these marks and the method you choose is dependent upon the type of surface your table is composed of. Before attempting to remove permanent marker it is best to experiment with different cleaning agents on a discreet area of the table, such as the underside or the bottom portion of a leg.


If your table is made of a finished wood, remember to scrub with the grain of the wood. Do not scrub in circles. Rubbing alcohol is also known to work well in removing permanent marker stains from hard surfaces.


Do not use any acetone-based cleaning agents. Acetone is a harsh chemical that is flammable and easily ignited.

If your table is made of bare wood, sanding may be necessary as using any chemical agents can discolor or warp the wood.

If you are concerned about ruining your table while trying to remove permanent marker, contact the manufacturer for specific cleaning instructions.

  1. Squeeze a small amount of toothpaste on a damp cloth. If you are using non-acetone nail polish remover or naphtha, pour a small amount directly on a dry cloth.

  2. Scrub the marks with the cloth. If the table is made of wood, gently scrub with the grain.

  3. Allow the toothpaste to remain on the stain for about five minutes; then wipe with a clean portion of the damp cloth. If using non-acetone nail polish remover or naphtha, apply and wipe immediately with a clean dry cloth.

  4. Repeat these steps as necessary until you no longer see marker stains.