How to Get Permanent Marker Off Countertops

A permanent marker is an incredibly useful and versatile household tool. From marking the inside of kid's clothes and sports gear to labeling moving boxes and leftovers, a permanent marker is a household essential. However, as anyone who has used one can attest, a permanent marker can be, well, permanent. Getting permanent marker off of countertops, however, isn't always as difficult as it seems as long as you have the right materials and supplies.

Housewife cleaning the kitchen
credit: baona/iStock/GettyImages
Getting permanent marker off of countertops, however, isn't always as difficult as it seems as long as you have the right materials and supplies.

Remove Permanent Marker From Wood

Wood can be a sensitive and highly porous surface, making it vulnerable to staining. If you haven't sealed your wood countertop, you run the risk of staining it with a permanent marker or any other staining materials. This is particularly true if your countertop is made of blonde or light-colored wood.

To remove permanent marker from wood, use a squirt of toothpaste and a soft cloth. First, test the toothpaste in an inconspicuous place to make sure it won't remove the finish or varnish from the surface of the wood. Once you are sure it won't harm the wood, you can rub the toothpaste into the stain with a soft cloth. Rinse it with cool water. If the stain isn't removed, repeat the process with rubbing alcohol, which should be able to lift the stain effectively.

After doing any kind of heavy-duty cleaning on a wood surface, be sure to apply a wood cleaner and polish to restore moisture to the wood and prevent it from absorbing additional stains.

Remove Sharpie From Quartz Countertop

Removing Sharpie or another permanent marker from natural stone countertops can be a singularly challenging endeavor. To remove permanent marker from a granite countertop, or to remove Sharpie from a quartz countertop, requires the correct materials and a delicate hand.

Do not use white vinegar or any other heavily acidic cleanser on granite. This can damage the surface of the granite permanently. Instead, if you notice a permanent marker stain on your granite countertop, take care to gently apply hydrogen peroxide and then rub at the stain with a soft cloth.

If hydrogen peroxide doesn't lift the stain, apply rubbing alcohol with a soft cloth. That should remove it from granite. To remove permanent marker from a granite countertop or any other natural stone, you can also try applying toothpaste, aerosol hairspray or a commercially-sold magic eraser to the spot and buffing gently. Once the stain is removed, rinse with cool water.

Removing Permanent Marker From Laminate

While permanent marker on laminate sounds like it's not going anywhere, there's actually a very easy, cheap and nontoxic solution. Spread cooking oil over the stain, and allow a paper towel to sit on top of the oil while it works to dissolve the marker. After a few minutes, wipe the marker off by moving the paper towel in a circular motion.

You can also use hydrogen peroxide, toothpaste or rubbing alcohol to get permanent marker stains off of Formica countertops. In every case, you should test the solution you plan to use on an inconspicuous area of the Formica. This is particularly true if your countertops are a darker color. Testing the cleansing agent in a hidden area can help you avoid creating a stain much more glaring than a bit of permanent marker.

It's important to remember to rinse off any cleaning agent with cool, clear water at least once after removing the stain. While abrasive cleaners like baking soda and toothpaste may help to remove permanent marker, leaving the substance on the stained material for too long could be detrimental to the integrity of the countertop, causing damage to the surface or color.


Ashley Friedman

Ashley Friedman

Ashley Friedman is a freelance writer with experience working in the home, design and interiors space.