How to Remove Marker Damage From Furniture




Introduction: How to Remove Marker Damage From Furniture

From time to time everyone has had accidental marker or pen marks on furniture.  The furniture I am currently working on belongs to a mom with three small children.  There are a lot of marker scribbles!

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Step 1: Supplies Needed

The materials you need are:

laquer thinner
soft cotton cloth
steel wool (###) in the example  depends on the project
sand paper
elbow grease

Step 2: Safety and Caution

Laquer thinner should only be used in a well ventilated place.  Test a small inconspicuous (did I spell that right?) spot on your furniture with a little laquer thinner to make sure the finish is compatable.

Even if it seems compatible, laquer thinner will cause damage if you oversaturate the area.  Work lightly and in a small section at a time constantly checking that you are not causing damage. 

Step 3: Step One

Start by applying laquer thinner to a clean cloth.  Don't over saturate it.  Gently rub at the marker spot.  You may need to remoisten your rag but keep after it.  Rub with the grain.  Keep rotating your cloth using fresh spots on your rag so that if you pick up color you don't spread it to a new area of the furniture.  Generally this alone will do the trick and get rid of your stain.  You can also use a QTip to work a small area.  Don't use too much thinner as you can still cause damage to your furniture by over working the area.  Work a small section at a time.  When prefinished wood floors were installed in my home the workers used laquer thinner to remove the excess adhesive  without damaging the finish.

Step 4: Step Two

The furniture I am working on is worn and rustic.  I can be a little more agressive cleaning it.  By the same token, since it is so worn and dry, the marker stains are in pretty deep.  I applied laquer thinner to a piece of ### steel wool.  Again work in the direction of the grain.  If you are working on a piece with a nicer finish you should not use anything coarser than 0000.  You will leave a dull spot in the finish if you overwork it.  You certainly do not want to make your furniture worse.

I normally would not suggest sandpaper except that I am using it on this particular project.  There were some pretty dark marker stains that penetrated where no finish was present to act as a barrier.  Since I am going to restain the cabinet I am going a step further and sanding some of the particularly nasty spots.  After all, not one side of the three tables was spared marker, pen or crayola damage.    If possible, I will update with a picture of the table stained and finished.

I hope this was helpful.  Please let me know if you have any comments or questions.  Thanks!

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    7 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Acetone nail polish remover works like a charm for Sharpies--even on fabrics. But NEVER on Rayon!


    It's possible. The Laquer thinner is strong stuff. You would not want to expose the surrounding finish to it. It's always best If you can test it on an inconspicuous spot. When ready, you might try it with a Qtip, very sparringly, following the vase outline a little at a time, a small section only. Follow with another dry Qtip almost immediately. Don't wipe with a rag as you will inadvertantly smear laquer thinner on the surrounding surface. A ring shape is so distinctive. It's hard to work with and not remain a little noticable. If the finish is very durable you may be able to apply a little elbow grease. Let me know if you have any other questions!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Do you think this technique will work with a dye that has transferred from a vase on to a table top ? Use the same materials to clean ?

    Thanks Dave

    My kids have used waterproof marker, will this work for that aswell, or do you have any other tips? My kids don't normally have access to waterproof markers, unfortunately their friends do!!lol:)


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    These were everything, marker pen crayons. Should work for you Just be super cautious putting on the laquer thinner. Test a spot somewhere not noticeable incase it might damage your finish. Hope it helps!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the comment. It really works great. Just be careful to test for compatibility.