How to Remove Permanent Marker from Wood Floors

As much as you try to keep your wooden floors sparkling, accidents happen. Your curious toddler may have explored their artistic side and written on the floor with a permanent marker. Or maybe you had a clumsy moment and spilled the marker on your wood flooring. Either way, it’s important to act fast when it happens, so you can get your floors spotless in no time. 

This article explores the different ways to remove permanent marker from wood floors. We’ll discuss what you need, the steps, and tips to make sure your wooden flooring is quickly restored with minimal effort.

What this article covers:

How To Remove Permanent Marker From Hardwood Floors

how to remove permanent marker from hardwood floors

What You Need:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • White vinegar
  • Ammonia
  • Water
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Clean cloths
  • Mild detergent

Step One: Dab The Area With Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol contains acetone and is a great solvent for removing permanent marker stains. Soak a cloth with rubbing alcohol, then dab it onto the stained area repeatedly until the stain fades away.

When dabbing, avoid using too much rubbing alcohol. The acetone can damage and discolor the finish of your flooring if you’re not careful.

Step Two: Create a Vinegar and Water Solution

Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a bowl. Then, dip a clean cloth into the solution, wring it out, and blot the stain with it. The acidity in the vinegar will help to loosen up the stain particles so they can be wiped away.

how to remove permanent marker from hardwood floor

For the best results, use white vinegar. This is because other types of vinegar, like apple cider and balsamic, contain dyes that could discolor your floor if left on for too long.

Step Three: Spot-Clean With Ammonia

If the stain has proven to be stubborn, dilute a small amount of ammonia with water (1 part ammonia and 3 parts water). Then, use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the stained area in a circular motion. When finished, dry the area with a clean cloth. You can also follow this step when removing moisture from wood floors or cleaning oil off hardwood floors.

Remember, ammonia is a powerful chemical and can damage the finish of your floor. Therefore, only use it in small amounts and avoid letting it sit for too long.

If you don't want to use Ammonia, you can opt for succinimide or phthalimide. These are less aggressive and won't damage your floor. They are also highly efficient for removing haze from engineered hardwood floors or getting rid of sticky residue on hardwood floors.

If a soft-bristled brush doesn’t work well in this step, consider using an orbital floor scrubber. This machine is made for cleaning all types of wood floors. If you don’t know how to use it, don’t fret. It comes with comprehensive instructions on how to clean different floors and the settings to use.

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Step Four: Rinse The Area With Water

Once you’ve removed as much of the stain as possible, rinse the area with warm water and mild detergent. This will remove any residual dirt or grime left behind from the cleaning process. Dry the area thoroughly with a fresh cloth.

Step Five: Dry The Area Completely

After you rinse all the water, let the area dry completely. Wait for about 30 minutes or an hour before you move on to the next step. You can switch on the fans or open windows to speed up the process.

Step Five: Vacuum

This is a step you shouldn't miss. Vacuum the area to ensure that all residue from the stain is cleared away for good. This will also help get rid of any dirt or dust particles that may have been dragged onto the floor during cleaning.

how to get marker out of wood

When vacuuming, use a floor brush attachment. This ensures that the bristles reach deep into the surface to vacuum away any residue. The best setting to use is the lowest suction power to avoid scratching the wood. Don't forget this when removing dark water stains from wood floors.

Tips To Remove Permanent Marker From Wood Floors

Act Fast

Waiting too long to clean the stain will make it harder to get out. The longer you wait, the more time the stain has to sink into the grain of your flooring making removal more difficult. The best thing to do is act fast, so you can get your floors looking like new again in no time.

Test Cleaners First

Before applying any products to the stain, it’s important to test them on an inconspicuous area of your floor. This ensures that the cleaning product does not damage the wood or its finish. Don't forget to read the instructions on the product before use.

how to get permanent marker out of wood

Start From The Outer Edges

When applying any of the cleaning solutions, it’s important to start from the outer edges of the stain and work your way in. This prevents spreading the mark further into your flooring. By doing this, you can gradually reduce the size of the mark until it is completely gone.

Other Solutions For Removing Permanent Marker

Below are other permanent marker removers you should know about if the first method does not work for your wood floor.

Hand Sanitizer

If rubbing alcohol does not work, try using hand sanitizer. Most hand sanitizers contain alcohol as their main active ingredient, which makes them effective in removing permanent marker stains. Put a small amount of hand sanitizer directly onto the stain, then use a damp rag to scrub it away. Repeat until the stain is gone. It's one of the best products to clean stains on wood floors.

Caution: Test this method on an inconspicuous area first, as the alcohol in hand sanitizer can damage the finish of your wood flooring if it is left on for too long.

Nail Polish Remover

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Another alternative is nail polish remover. It also contains acetone as one of its main ingredients which can help break down the molecules in permanent markers and lift them from your wood floors.

To use this method, pour a little nail polish remover onto the stain and let it sit for around 5 minutes. Then use a clean rag to scrub away the marker. If necessary, repeat this process until the entire stain has been removed. You can also try this when getting ink out of hardwood floors.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a household staple that is used for a host of cleaning jobs. Apart from getting rid of a slick spot on a hardwood floor, it can also be effective in removing permanent marker stains.

To use this method, mix one part baking soda with one part water to create a paste. Apply this paste onto the stain and let it sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, gently scrub the area with a soft rag or brush. Rinse the area with warm water and repeat as necessary until the stain is removed. This method works best on fresh stains. You can also use baking soda to remove hair color from hardwood floors.


how to remove permanent marker from wood floor

Hairspray is a surprisingly effective cleaning solution for removing permanent marker stains from wood floors. Simply spray the affected area with hairspray, and let it sit for a few minutes. Use a damp cloth to scrub the area in a circular motion until the stain is removed. Use gentle, circular motions when scrubbing. Harsh scrubbing can cause damage to the wood flooring. After scrubbing, rinse the area with a clean cloth and warm water. Dry the area thoroughly before allowing foot traffic or furniture.


Using WD-40 is another highly effective method for removing permanent marker from wood floors. Start by spraying a generous amount of WD-40 directly onto the affected area and let it sit for several minutes. The oil-based lubricant will help to break down the permanent marker's pigments, making it easier to remove. After penetrating, use a cloth or rag to wipe away the stain. Finally, mop or vacuum the affected area as usual and enjoy your newly restored wood floor!


Removing permanent marker from wood floors is as easy as using regular toothpaste. Squeeze a small amount of the paste onto the area and use a clean cloth to rub it in. The toothpaste should begin to lift the stain from the wood floor. However, this method may not work for deep stains, so you might need to apply a few more rounds of toothpaste before the permanent marker is completely removed.

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Following these steps should help you to remove permanent marker from your wood floors without damaging them. However, if stains still remain after trying all the methods mentioned here, it might be a good idea to call in a professional. They will be able to examine the wood floors and determine the best way to remove the marker without doing any damage. 

With a little patience and elbow grease, you can have your wood floors looking new again in no time!

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