A black permanent marker was used on my kitchen table. My daughter is 3, my bad for leaving the marker out!

An image of the damage:

Image of damage

The top circled area shows one mark. The bottom circle is where my wife tried to scrub another black mark, and unfortunately the table in that area looks scuffed up now.

Some information on the the table:

  • Handcrafted of solid hardwood known for its heft and pronounced grain
  • Hand planed, sanded and finished in antiqued grey to enhance its distressed look
  • By their nature, unsealed wood planks may be somewhat uneven, and may cup or bow slightly over time, further enhancing their rustic one-of-a-kind character; cracks may be present

A full description of the table: http://www.restorationhardware.com/catalog/product/product.jsp?productId=prod150011

  • 3
    So the wood isn't sealed? Whatever you try, try it on the underside first.
    – uncle brad
    Mar 8, 2012 at 12:24
  • Those 3 marketing bullet points can be translated into "we didn't seal it because we're lazy and want to maximize profits"
    – DA01
    Mar 8, 2012 at 15:48
  • 2
    Thanks everyone! Before I could even read any suggestions my wife went ahead and tried using toothpaste over the mark and it has removed it well enough. Go figure. I don't even know where she found that idea, I don't like taking gambles like that, but it worked. We'll leave the scuff mark. Oh, and perhaps ironically, she is a Dentist!
    – Tom
    Mar 9, 2012 at 1:54
  • Thanx Tom, toothpaste rocks! Just removed a horrible looking mark from my table...
    – user9096
    Nov 11, 2012 at 1:27
  • Dead link to image! Please fix.
    – Tester101
    Nov 12, 2012 at 12:48

9 Answers 9


Often permanent markers can be removed with isopropyl alcohol. First, assuming you still have the markers, I'd try using this to remove it from a test surface. If it works, then try on the bottom of your table to ensure it does not damage the finish. If it is safe, then use it to try and remove the marker from your table.

  • The formulation of 'permanent' markers has changed over the years too. Ethanol (eg vodka or Everclear) works on many markers now. OP should get a piece of hardwood, scribble on it, and try a few solvents. Also, depending on brand, if he gets lucky, bleach might decolorize the stai. Mar 8, 2012 at 15:59

I just tried "Goof Off" http://www.goofoffstainremover.com/ on the underside of my table and it worked very well. Of course the underside of my table is sealed with polyurethane.

You might just want to leave it. This seems strange at first, but I resigned myself to it years ago. Now when I look at the child inflicted damage around my house I think of it as the history of my family in this house.


If it's unsealed, the ink has likely permeated into the grain. In the end, it might come down to getting out the power sander.


I do a lot of detailing work and have had to find ways to either remove or cover up markings made by all sorts of things including paints, permanent markers and worse. I've experimented with home remedies like rubbing alc., peroxide, toothpaste and vinegar as well as commercial products like goof off. The one product I found that really worked well when all else had failed is the "Mr. Clean Magic Eraser sponge" Available at any supermarket. Other products may work to some degree, on something like perm. marker, but they usually leave a faded mark. The magic eraser removes it quickly and completely. Another place where it give excellent results is on your auto body for removing those black scuff marks as well as oxidation and it does all this so effortlessly. For the lower blemish in your picture that resulted from sanding, I'd suggest checking your local paint stores for a matching stain marker. It's basically a marker pen which uses stain instead of ink. Swipe it and wipe it till it blends. They work great on nicks and scratches on all your furniture. Hope this helps.


I've used vinegar and baking soda and a little elbow grease, which works well. It didn't take the varnish off; actually it made the table brighter. Then I gave it a good polishing.


For the scuffed section I would try this or something simliar:

Scratch Cover

Recently, we were taking down some paper taped to a cabinet (at a relatives house) and when we removed the tape it took off part of the cabinet finish to create an unsightly spot. We looked under the sink and found this product. We tried it out to good results and the finish that was removed was restored. I was actually surprised how good it covered the finish that was removed.

Please note, I have no affiliation to this product or company, just sharing my experience with it.


Many permanent marker inks are soluble in acetone (a.k.a nail polish remover). Do test it on the underside of the table first, though.


For posterity I would like to point out that permanent marker can sometimes be removed by running the original pen over the mark and quickly wiping with a paper towel. The ink acts as its own solvent. This really works. Success will depend on the absorbency of the surface.


Kids blue toothpaste works wonders to remove permanent marker stain! We tried it and Thank G-d it worked!

  • How do you use this? apply it with a toothbrush and scrub?
    – Steven
    Jul 7, 2013 at 21:51

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