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Removing Pen and Ink Stains from Wood Furniture

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 page about removing pen and ink stains on wood furniture.
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August 5, 2013

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.

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June 5, 2013

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!Removing Ink Stains off Wood

 

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.

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11 Questions

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March 15, 2010

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

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 213 Posts
March 16, 20101 found this helpful
Best Answer

I've had great luck using rubbing alcohol to remove most felt-tip permanent pens. You could also use fingernail polish remover, but that may take of some of the stain or wood's finish. They make 2 types of fingernail polish remover. The kind make for artificial nails is the safest to try first. The kind not make for artificial nails is the strongest.

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Just use a Q-tip & make sure the solution doesn't drip. You may have to keep rubbing the Q-tip with alcohol back & forth. Sometimes it has to soak in a bit before it works & sometimes it works right away. Are you sure it's a permanent pen? Sometime water-color pens can look just like permanent pens & come off easily with soap & water.

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 107 Feedbacks
March 16, 20100 found this helpful
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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.

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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.

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February 10, 20150 found this helpful
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Mr. Clean Magic Eraser! I had leaked red ink on my finished window sill. Normal scrubbing did not work, neither did the alcohol. In fact, the stains I tried alcohol on seemed to imbed deeper. I had tried Magic Eraser in the past, but it did not seem to work because I had not given it enough time. However this time, I started on one of the smaller stains and the difference was very noticeable.

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So I continued to scrub, and scrub, and scrub until it was gone! Then I moved onto the larger, more prominant stains. It took a lot longer, but they all disappeared as well. And all that scrubbing did not hurt the finish.

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Anonymous
May 21, 20160 found this helpful
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Magic eraser worked great!

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December 1, 20160 found this helpful
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Dish soap with a mildly rough scrubber worked for me.

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October 27, 2020

How to take Bic pen off a brand new pine TV stand that won't leave a mark. I only got the TV unit yesurday and my kid drew on it a bit. Not happy!


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Silver Answer Medal for All Time! 425 Answers
October 27, 20201 found this helpful
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Try GooGone or lemon oil (it's furniture polis/restorer). What ever you do, DON'T use nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol or hair spray, as these will most likely remove the finish altogether or at least leave it very dull looking.

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You could even try vegetable or olive oil. Even WD-40 might work......just some type of a mild oil. Good luck and let us know what worked for you.

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 105 Posts
October 28, 20200 found this helpful
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I've had really good luck removing ink from wood using a mixture of baking soda and water to make a paste. Use a clean cloth to take a small amount of the paste and rub it into the wood. Use your fingers to rub the paste into the wood and allow this to set and dry. Now dampen a cloth with just a bit of water and start to rub the area and remove the dried paste.

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In some cases, if the stain is really deep you can mix the baking soda with some toothpaste and rub this into the stain and allow it to dry. Then clean this up using a damp cloth and apply some mineral oil to the area to restore the wood.

You don't want to use a lot of water on the stain because it can make it spread even deeper into the wood. A lemon slice is also good to remove ink stains from wood. You can rub the lemon slice on the ink stain and remove the ink from the wood.

A mixture of salt and water also works. No matter what method you try I would test it first on an area under the table and not directly on the stain. Just keep in mind when you clean the mixture off the stain you need to use a damp cloth only and not a really wet cloth because you don't want to add too much water to the wood top of the table.

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 196 Feedbacks
October 28, 20200 found this helpful
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Be careful as many things will damage the wood because pine is "soft". You could take a very tiny dot of shaving cream, test it in an inconspicuous place to make sure it does not remove the finish. If you are good to go, put a dot on the ink and gently "blot it" up. Do not swish it around it to could make the stain worse (any liquid can make the stain worse--so whatever you try, BLOT!)

Post back what you finally get to work! Prayers for an easy solution!

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February 22, 2007

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!

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By Paige (Guest Post)
February 23, 20070 found this helpful
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I feel your pain! My 2-year old did the same with a Sharpie. If it's wood, try alcohol - you can find very "strong" alcohol at Wal Mart - it is I think 91% and we applied it and rubbed the ink off with old rags. It worked pretty well on fabric as well, but prepare for a lot of blotting. If the surface is durable, a non-acetone nail polish remover worked as well in the same manner, but test it first and be prepared to rinse it out. Good luck!

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February 23, 20070 found this helpful
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I have found that this works for both pen ink AND blood....Take a paper towel and fold it in fourths then lay it over the spot. Take regular hairspray and spray THROUGH the paper towel until saturated. You will see the ink being soaked up by the paper towel. Keep moving the paper towel to clean spots as it soaks up. DO NOT SCRUB! It might take several tries, but once the stain is faded you can use a carpet spot cleaner to finish it off. GOOD LUCK!

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February 3, 20100 found this helpful
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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.

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September 17, 2005

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

Pete Ricks

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May 28, 20061 found this helpful
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Wipe with WD-40 it will clean it right off

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May 12, 2017

I have a new built-in desk/shelving made from MDF polyurethane and my partner's ballpoint ink has now marked the desk top. Can anyone suggest how to best clean and remove the ink stains without scratching the surface?

Many thanks.

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January 22, 2017

Any advice on how to remove pen ink from very delicate wood without damaging the wood?
Thanks!


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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
January 22, 20170 found this helpful

Try making a paste of baking soda and water. Rub over the stain gently with a moistened soft cloth.

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March 6, 2010

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

By Ruthie from Millersport, OH

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January 26, 2017

Care needs to always be taken when removing stains from wood furniture. The products used could damage the finish; pretest solutions in an inconspicous location. This is a page about how to remove an ink stain on wood furniture.

A fountain pen on a wood surface.

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March 17, 2010

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


Answers:

Paint Pen Stain on Wood Furniture

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

By marieaa65

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Home and Garden Cleaning FurnitureOctober 13, 2011
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