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I need to remove some Sharpie ink that has somehow got into a varnished bar top. I've tried scrubbing at it with various cleaning products but nothing seems to work. What should I try next?

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5 Answers 5

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A trick I've seen is to use whiteboard markers to draw over the permanent mark, then wipe it up while it is still wet. This is because whiteboard markers and permanent markers use similar solvents.

If that fails, you can use Xylene (the solvent in these pens) or Goof Off which is a heavy-duty remover. Neither should hurt the bar surface (unlike scrubbing), but you should test it on a less visible surface first.

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Isopropyl (aka rubbing) alcohol and a paper towel.

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I would try a magic eraser. Test it on an inconspicuous spot first, some surfaces don't react well to the active ingredient in them. I was able to get off Red - permanent marker off a white Refrigerator.

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  • +1 for this. I use magic eraser (trade name for melamine sponge) to remove the old sharpie ink from electrical panels when I move or change circuits. Works every time and hasn't ever damaged the paint in my experience.
    – Chris O
    Jan 9, 2023 at 15:37
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I use lacquer thinner on all my sharpie marks. Dampen rag and wipe. Removes it really fast, and MAY not affect the varnish. If it is actually polyurethane, no problem.

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WD-40 will take Sharpie off quite well and should be OK for the varnish. Test that in an inconspicuous place before going all in.

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