My daughter's white Ikea desk has many marker pen stains which I can't remove by scrubbing with sponge and soap. Is there a magic cleaning product out there that could do the trick?

Otherwise, I'm thinking of repainting it. In this case, I have very limited budget so I would sand it then apply two coats of my wall paint (this one). Would that look decent? If not, how could I make it better without spending too much? (the main, top part of the desk where we write should look and feel perfectly smooth as before)

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    If you make it like new it will get marked again. You could get a variety of marker pen colors and make it look like it's suppose to be marked up. Embrace graffiti and no matter how marked up it gets it will all blend in.
    – David D
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 14:39
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    We put contact paper (shelf liner) on new desks for kids. Easy to pull off and replace in the future.
    – longneck
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 15:55
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    Many IKEA products are made of particle board that has a laminated white plastic coating. Markers can stain the coating such that it nearly impossible to scrub off. Also keep in mind that painting over a plastic surface of this type is generally not durable.
    – Michael Karas
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 18:27
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    Have you tried a 'magic eraser' (melamine foam)? It basically works like a really fine sanding block. If the marker didn't penetrate, this might do the trick.
    – JimmyJames
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 19:32
  • I'd look for a "desktop topper pad" and put that on top. Either the permanent ones made from leather or plastic, or the tear-off doodle pad style. You could even use a craft cutting pad, often in green with a measuring grid printed on top. Comment cos workaround, not an answer.
    – Criggie
    Commented Feb 15, 2020 at 0:28

2 Answers 2


You might try some mineral spirits rubbed lightly on the surface but remember, there's a reason they're called permanent markers. Your choice of paint would not be good. You won't get the smooth surface you want and that paint won't hold up well on a desktop, it will scrape off easily. Your best bet would be to get some high quality spray paint recommended for children's furniture like Rust-Oleum. Follow the directions and you should get great results.

  • Thanks, you mean like this? amazon.co.uk/Rust-Oleum-AE0525400UK-Spray-Paint-Chalk/dp/…
    – drake035
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 16:09
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    That's the stuff. Good luck
    – JACK
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 16:16
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    I wouldn't use a poly clear coat on white furniture, poly tends to yellow over time. Clear coat acrylic doesn't yellow, and is much more durable than poly, which is why it's used on cars. Cost is about the same either option.
    – dandavis
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 17:25
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    Just to be sure - it looks that spray paint and coat suggested in answer & comments would together cost about as much as 1/5 o the desk. Is that right? Will effect be worth it? Would it increase desk's lifetime by more than 20% with no decrease of quality, or more if surface quality will be decreased?
    – Mołot
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 23:11
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    @Mołot This is a DIY site for people who want to try/learn how to do stuff. Maybe because they want to cut down on stuff in landfills or maybe because they like to do their own repairs. There are shopping sites where people can just buy new. People here ask questions on how to do stuff, we try to answer them.
    – JACK
    Commented Feb 15, 2020 at 1:22

Isopropyl alcohol, "rubbing alcohol", will remove most "permanent" markers (e.g. Sharpie brand markers), but may be ineffective on ballpoint pen marks, depending on the ink formulation. For this purpose, don't bother using anything less pure than the commonly available 91%, with 99% being preferred. At 70% concentration it's commonly not effective.

For marking which was recently applied, the marks will usually be removed quickly and completely. Some surfaces, particularly if the writing has been present for an extended time or if the surface is not smooth, may need considerable rubbing or scrubbing (e.g. with a toothbrush, to get some agitation in nooks and crannies), and/or may need to have the isopropyl alcohol sit on the surface for a time alcohol (e.g. with a paper towel dampened by isopropyl alcohol).

There are also stronger removers available from retail. The product "Goof Off" is particularly effective to remove a wide variety of substances, including ink, but will damage some surfaces (e.g. it will partially melt some plastics). If you consider using it, you should test it on an unobtrusive location to see if it causes damage.

Wall paint seems like a terrible idea, will not be as smooth, and will get marked up again. I'd tend towards being happy that your daughter is making art and not worry so much about things being pristine and unmarked.

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