The top layer of laminate flooring, which is known as the wear layer, is usually a super-hard, baked-on polyurethane finish, and that's good news if you have kids. The finish is hard enough to resist scratches, most spills and the occasional creative art session involving marker pens and ink in general.
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When ink dries on any surface, it takes a solvent to remove it. It's far too thin to scrape off, and if you tried to do that to ink on a laminate floor, you'd damage the finish. You can't scrub it off either because the abrasion necessary to remove the ink would also scratch the finish.
A number of solvents are safe to use on a polyurethane finish, including alcohol, spray lubricant, vinegar, latex paint remover and even white spirit, although you'll have to work hard if you use white spirit on a laminate floor for stain removal. You can also use acetone, which is the main ingredient in nail polish remover, although this is more useful for removing paint spills than ink.
For Ink Stain Removal, Start With Alcohol
Isopropyl alcohol, otherwise known as rubbing alcohol, and denatured alcohol, which is sold in paint stores, are both viable ink stain-removing options. Neither has an advantage over the other. You're more likely to have a bottle of rubbing alcohol around the house than a can of denatured alcohol, and if so, go ahead and use that.
To treat an ink or felt marker stain, moisten a rag with alcohol and start rubbing. Go ahead and put some muscle into it because the alcohol won't have any effect on the floor finish if you use a non-abrasive cloth. As long as the ink hasn't seeped through the finish, which is problematic and may require replacement of the affected boards, you'll get the stain out, but it may take several minutes of remoistening the rag and rubbing.
Use White Spirit on a Laminate Floor
White spirit is otherwise known as paint thinner, and like alcohol, it's a safe solvent to use on a polyurethane finish. For ink removal, it doesn't work as fast as alcohol, and it may have an unpleasant odor depending on the type you use, but it will eventually do the job. It's an option if you have some in your paint closet and don't happen to have any alcohol on hand.
Try Nail Polish Remover or Acetone
Some flooring experts recommend acetone for removing ink from laminate flooring. You can buy acetone at any paint store, but you don't have to if you have nail polish remover in your bathroom cabinet. Just check the label to make sure that it contains acetone because some products don't.
You're more likely to have success with acetone that you are using white spirit on a laminate floor. Acetone is a stronger solvent, and you can rub it in quite vigorously without worrying about damaging the finish. It has a strong odor, however, and like all the solvents mentioned so far, it's flammable, so keep the room well ventilated while using it.
You Have Other Possibilities if You Act Promptly
The best time to clean any spill from a laminate floor is immediately after it occurs and before it dries. If you act quickly, you can remove ink stains with a number of other solvents, including vinegar, a spray lubricant such as WD-40 or latex paint remover.
Apply the lubricant or latex paint remover directly to the stain, then wipe immediately with a soft cloth or paper towel. If you use vinegar, it's better to moisten the cloth with it than it is to pour it on the floor because vinegar is acidic and can cloud a polyurethane finish when used to excess.
After the stain is gone, wipe the area with a damp rag and let the surface dry before walking on that part of the floor.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker and Family Handyman.