How to Get Permanent Marker Out of Finished Wood

When you see permanent marker on a surface, you assume that there is no getting it off. Just because it says permanent does not mean that it cannot be removed. It can be frightening when permanent marker gets on a piece of finished wood, whether it's wood floors, furniture or other surfaces. Removing permanent marker from finished wood is not as tricky as it may seem. Using the proper methods and products will take permanent marker off of finished wood without damaging the surface.

Permanent marker can be removed from surfaces despite its name.
  1. Clean the wood with a high-quality wood cleaner. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for using the product as application directions will vary between products. Cleaning with a wood cleaner may lighten the permanent marker slightly.

  2. Rub a pink art eraser over the permanent marker stain. Rub gently in the direction of the wood grain until you notice the marker lifting. Avoid rubbing too hard or the finish on the wood may become damaged. Wipe down the affected wood with a slightly damp rag.

  3. Spread a moderate coating of plain white toothpaste over the stain if the marker is still there. Rub the toothpaste into the wood with your finger. Avoid using gel toothpaste or those with any abrasives or bleaching agents. Let the toothpaste sit on the wood for a few minutes.

  4. Rub the toothpaste into the wood with a soft rag, working in the direction of the grain. Apply moderate pressure and continue rubbing until the marker has lifted from the wood.

  5. Wipe down the wood with a slightly damp rag to remove the toothpaste residue. Allow the wood to air dry.

  6. Use white spirit as an alternative method for removing permanent marker from finished wood. You can buy white spirit at most home improvement or grocery stores. Moisten a paper towel with white spirit, and rub it onto the marker stain. Allow it to set on the stain for about five minutes. Rub the stain with a soft rag to lift the marker stain. Wipe down the wood with a clean rag dampened with water to remove the white spirit.

  7. Use rubbing alcohol or hairspray as yet another method to remove permanent marker from finished wood. Apply the alcohol or hairspray to a soft rag, and rub it over the marker stain. Follow up by cleaning the wood with a rag dampened with plain water.


  • Always test the product you are using on a small, inconspicous area of the wood prior to applying it to a more noticeable area.

About the Author

Kimbry Parker has been writing since 1998 and has published content on various websites. Parker has experience writing on a variety of topics such as health, parenting, home improvement and decorating. She is a graduate of Purdue University with a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communication.