How to Remove Permanent Marker From Hardwood Floors

Permanent markers, although referred to as "permanent," are not everlasting. A person can remove, as with any ink or paint, a marker "stain"---a thin chemical and ink layer---from any surface. The primary problem with trying to remove marker stains comes from the water-resistant nature of the marker ink, and "permanent" formulas crafted to make marker inks retain color and last on surfaces. Although permanent marker stains withstand traditional soap and water cleaning methods, it isn't impossible to remove these stains. With certain cleaning supplies and the correct application method(s), you can remove permanent marker from hardwood floors with little, if any, damage to wood surfaces.

  1. Use a solvent such as rubbing alcohol. Solvents or solvent-containing fluids dissolve the chemicals in the marker stain. Apply the solvent using a cotton ball or cotton swab. Wait one minute and wipe with a clean ball or swab. If the marker remains, repeat.

  2. Run a small bead of toothpaste across the mark and rub the toothpaste into the mark gently with a soft-bristled, scratch-resistant brush. Toothpaste contains ingredients such as silica that wear the stain away through mild abrasion with light friction or rubbing.

  3. Mix equal parts of water and baking soda to use as another slightly abrasive cleaner. Apply the paste to any permanent marker stains and rub gently into the stains in the direction of the wood grain with a soft-bristled, scratch-resistant brush or pad.

  4. Create another abrasive paste by mixing a few drops of water with powdered pumice. As with any abrasive, take care not to scratch the surface of your hardwood floors when rubbing the stain with this paste.

  5. Try a damp melamine resin foam eraser if all else fails. Keep in mind that melamine can remove a stain with "mild" abrasion, but that with enough pressure it can also scratch surfaces. Microscopically melamine resin foam erasers have extremely hard surfaces similar to glass, but combine the structure of the eraser and the application of water, and the eraser softens and acts like fine-grade sandpaper.


  • Never use harsh chemicals to remove permanent marker from hardwood floors, as these chemicals can damage sealants, break down adhesives bonding seams or cause other damage. In addition, harsh chemicals pose a health risk not only to children and pets but also to any adults who use the chemicals in confined spaces or without appropriate protective gear such as gloves, goggles or a mask.
  • Always test any marker remover method outlined in this article on a small hidden area of your hardwood floors, as treatments on hardwood floors differ--a test spot helps to confirm that the remover won't damage your floors.
  • Always wipe the floor with a damp microfiber cloth after removing the marker or marker stain, and wipe the wood completely dry with a cloth. Protect the surface by applying wood polish when finished.

About the Author

Based in Southern Pennsylvania, Irene A. Blake has been writing on a wide range of topics for over a decade. Her work has appeared in projects by The National Network for Artist Placement, the-phone-book Limited and GateHouse Media. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Shippensburg University.