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Removing Pen and Ink Stains from Wood Furniture

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Spilled ink on wood surface. There is also an open bottle and a pen.

Ink spills on wood furniture can be very difficult to remove especially if it penetrates the finish. Before you just grab the nearest cleaner make sure that it is safe for your furniture's finish. This is a guide about removing pen and ink stains on wood furniture.


Solutions: Removing Pen and Ink Stains from Wood Furniture

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Tip: Removing Ball Point from Varnished Wood

I followed the advice about using nail varnish remover and it worked beautifully. However, using Pledge afterwards did not seem to restore the varnish as I would have hoped. I tried olive oil instead and that did the trick nicely.

It seems that nut oils have a lot of restorative qualities for wood. As an aside, try Brazil nuts for wood scratches - simply rub the nut along the scratch.

    By matthewk [1]

    Tip: Removing Ink Stains off Wood

    I used an eraser sponge. All you need to do is make sure the eraser sponge is just damp and rub the area. Today, I removed felt pen marks off a varnished dresser; the marks had been there for over 15 years! They looked black but after 10 minutes of rubbing, they were gone and my sponge had turned pink!

    Now all I need is my hair dryer or iron to remove the white water mark. Then, it will be a rub over with 3 parts oil and 1 part white vinegar. I have found this helps to cover up minor scratches and it will look as good as new.

      By Elizabeth J. [1]

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      Here are questions related to Removing Pen and Ink Stains from Wood Furniture.

      Question: Felt Tip Pen Stain on Wood Furniture

      I have brought a bed and found felt tip pen all over the wooden part. Does anyone have any ideas on how to get it off?

      By Katherine from Saltash, Cornwall, UK


      Most Recent Answer

      By PENNY K [15]03/16/2010

      Well, it depends partly on how old and worn the finish on the wood is. I would proceed cautiously in case the varnish is thin; if you start removing the ink and it smears you don't want to make it worse by spreading it onto bare wood.

      Get a million q tips and some 90 per cent rubbing alcohol, at any large drug store. Most rubbing alcohol is 70 percent, but you can find the 90-91 percent. Have an old absorbent rag like a white t shirt also.

      Dip q tip into alcohol and wipe with upward stroke and blot spot [on wood] immediately. See if anything happens. If it does loosen ink, proceed but don't push cloth onto other areas without ink, just use a folded little bit on the exact spot and always use a clean piece of the rag, never one that's been stained with previously removed ink. Slow and carefully, until you get the hang of it.

      Alcohol could affect the varnish if it's an older varnish; not likely to if it's modern polyurethane.

      Others here may know a better method, but this is where I would start. If it doesn't work you have a nice bottle of rubbing alcohol, good for a lot of things and a new stash of q tips.

      Question: Ink Stains on White High Gloss Furniture

      I stupidly left an un opened greeting card on my bedside table while I went travelling, and now I have an ink mark from the price label stained on the shiny, white, high gloss surface. I know you can only use certain products on high gloss furniture so I wondered if anyone had any magic solutions to this problem? I feel like it needs soaking in something as the stain seems well and truly sunken in.

      Alternatively is there any professional service I can use to have it re-surfaced or something, the way you would a scratch? I know this would cost an arm and a leg, but I don't want my boyfriend knowing I ruined his very expensive furniture! Please help!

      By G.M.

      Question: Paint Pen Stain on Wood Furniture

      How do you get ink stains off of a wood desk without damaging the wood? With alcohol? Thanks.

      By Susan from Riverview, FL


      Most Recent Answer

      By Summit312210/04/2013

      Hi Monique - I just wanted you to know that the hand sanitizer worked wonders! In this instance, I used Purell since that was all that I had around the house. Before I began, I tested a small spot where the ink was and after rubbing it in vigorously the ink disappeared. Afterwards, I wiped the area off with a damp microfiber towel and added a small amount of Vitamin E oil (since it is a natural oil) - to add any lost moisture. I want to note that I tried most of the suggestions here (WD-40), nail polish remover, etc. but your suggestion worked wonders for me on my Italian beige finished lacquer furniture. Sending a big "thank you" your way. *Summit 3122.*

      Question: Removing Ink from Wood Furniture

      How do I get ink pen off of solid oak furniture?

      By Ruthie from Millersport, OH

      Question: Removing Pen Ink from Furniture

      I was wondering if any one can help me? My dog got to a pen and it exploded and it's all over my furniture. I was wondering if there is anything to take the pen out?

      Thank you much!

      Most Recent Answer

      By Scaramouche02/03/2010

      A defective ballpoint pen left smudges of blue ink all over my oak desktop. I used nail polish remover (with acetone), putting a little on a paper towel and rubbing lightly, just enough to take the ink off. After I was finished, I polished the surface with Pledge and you'd never know anything happened.

      Question: Pen Ink Stains on Wood

      Any ideas on how to remove pen stains from wood without damaging the wood?

      Pete Ricks

      Most Recent Answer

      By marieaa65 [2]05/28/2006

      Wipe with WD-40 it will clean it right off


      Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

      Archive: Paint Pen Stain on Wood Furniture

      My child got a red paint pen stain all over my cherry wood desktop. I can't get off? Any ideas without ruining the wood?

      Mike from Malvern, PA

      RE: Paint Pen Stain on Wood Furniture

      Spray some WD-40 on it and wipe clean. (05/28/2006)

      By Marieaa65