How To Get Permanent Marker Off Wood Furniture


My Elias. I love this boy more than words can ever express.

It’s a good thing, too. ‘Cause this one will TEST YOU. Don’t let the sweet face fool you.

Elias crazy

More often than not, THIS is the face that is running through the house, leaving a trail of destruction in his dust. Every time I turn around… and I do mean every single chance he gets… this boy is into MISCHIEF! You can’t turn your back!

I’m at the point to where I’m ready to throw away every single crayon and marker in the entire house, and banish them once and for all. You should see my walls. Thank heaven for Mr. Clean Erasers. It works wonders for getting marks off painted walls.

The furniture, on the other hand, is another matter.

The other day I walked into my office to find a black Sharpie masterpiece scribbled all over the top of my beautiful cherry writing desk. I froze in place and almost died. Who in their right mind left a Sharpie out?????

I did what I always do when I don’t know what to do. I searched it: “How To Get Permanent Marker Off Wood”. Don’t you just love the internet? I quickly found a solution that seemed like it might work.

Toothpaste, of all things!

Remembering an old tube of Rembrandt from my couponing days, I climbed up on the bathroom counter and searched the very back of the cabinet there. Perfect! I knew I kept this for a reason.

Without much hesitation, I squeezed a good sized glob of toothpaste onto the desk, and began working it in circles with a damp rag. And do you know what? It worked!! The permanent marker came right off. I buffed it clean with another rag, and it was as good as new. I can’t tell you how relieved I was.

I’m so glad I learned this trick, ’cause I’ve used it countless times since. My husband came home the other day to find more Sharpie scribbles on his computer desk (where the heck does this child keep finding these things??). He started freaking out, until I calmly pulled out the old toothpaste and did my thing, and quickly diffused the problem. I love it when that happens.

remove permanent marker

Disclaimer: I do not know if this will work on every wood surface without causing any damage. I’ve used it on multiple pieces of wooden furniture, and have not damaged the finish on any of them. If you are worried about damaging your surface, definitely test the toothpaste somewhere hidden first. I follow up the buffing with a coat of furniture polish, and it works like a dream. Use your own judgement.

Here are some Before & After shots from a project my kids and I did last week. On my good table. Why oh why did I let them do crafts on the good table? I momentarily freaked out a little when we picked up the papers and there was ink all over the place.

marker on table

Black marker. On the dining room table. Not good.

marker on table 3

Get a glob of toothpaste on a somewhat damp rag. A gritty toothpaste works nicely. Rub it in circles directly over the marker, and buff it off using a little elbow grease as necessary.

marker on table 4

Wipe it off with a damp rag.

I usually follow up with my homemade furniture polish…

  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3-5 drops lavender essential oil

 Good as new! Do you have a tried and true way to get permanent marker off wood furniture?

About Kendra 1123 Articles

A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.


  1. Thank you! Just yesterday I was trying to scrub off a picture my son drew on the hardwood floor in his bedroom to no avail. After I read this I tried it and the ink came right off. This post was just want I needed today. How did you know? Hee hee. Thanks!

  2. NICCCE! Thanks so much for sharing! I know exactly what you mean with not being able to turn your back for a second! I have a 4 and a 15 months old! And it seems like they’re looking for trouble, ALL.THE.TIME! LOL! I will try the toothpaste trick, I certainly have my area were I was “presented” art work! 😉
    …btw, your little guy, as much mischief there might be under this smile 😉 is suuuper cute!!! Just looking at those chubby cheeks! <3 <3 <3 Little boys are just the cutest and funnest (is this even a word?) things in the world! …Oh yeah, and the most trouble. LOL* 😀

  3. Alcohol also works! My lil darling, 3 yr old grandson, drew a really nice train about 3 ft long AND outlined his feet – both of them on oak floor in our computer room. Floor not so beautiful with the artwork. My daughter got some alcohol and rubbed it out pretty quick. Whew!

    Another great tip with olive oil. Gum in hair! I tried to cut it out of said daughter’s hair when she was about 3 and she ended up with a real cute pixie cut when I panicked and called the local beautician to fix my mess. Tried peanut butter, mayo, nothing worked. When her daughter was about the same age (what is it about 3 yr olds????), she got gum stuck in her hair. Instead of trying the other failed remedies, I grabbed the olive oil. Just a drop or two and it slid right off onto a paper towel! Hair saved!

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