How to Clean Marker Off Walls and Furniture

Remove marker stains by using the right cleaning product and method on walls and furniture. Take your time and stains will disappear on any material.
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If you have a young child, or children, at home it may be inevitable that marker stains will end up on your walls or furniture. Even adults have the ability to mark up walls or furniture, with an accidental drop of a marker onto a couch or chair or excited arm motion that draws a thick line across the wall.
Before you decide to throw out the couch or immediately repaint the entire wall, there are several options to clean marker off walls and furniture.
In this three-part article, Part 1 will discuss the importance of knowing the marker used to make the stain, Part 2 goes over how to clean marker off walls, and Part 3 shares details on how to clean marker off furniture.

Part 1 of 3: The type of marker determines how to remove the stain

One of the most important factors in removing marker stains from walls or furniture is the type of marker used. There are permanent markers, such as Sharpie, and others that are meant to be easily cleaned off surfaces, such as Crayola.
If possible, figure out the type of marker used to make the marks to determine how much it may have stained the wall or furniture. This will help you when you go to clean the stain. Permanent markers will take more time and may require professional cleaning help, depending on the size of the mark.

Part 2 of 3: How to successfully clean marker off walls

If an errant mark is found on a wall, there are several options for cleaning. To clean a marker stain off a wall, follow these steps:
Step 1: Start the detective work. First, determine what type of wall the mark was made on. The most common wall coverings include:
  • Paint
  • Wallpaper
  • Wood panel
Some cleaning solutions will damage wood or wallpaper, so be sure to check with the manufacturer recommendations to clean more expensive wall coverings.
Step 2: Start the stain removal. To clean a mark off the wall, avoid using water as it will simply spread the stain around. To remove a stain without spreading it, try these options. But, be sure to test a small area out of view before proceeding to ensure that it doesn’t stain wallpaper or bleach the wood:
  • Isopropyl alcohol (or items that contain it, such as hairspray) with a small amount of salt
  • Magic eraser
  • Toothpaste
  • Baking soda and vinegar
When removing the stain, use a cotton ball or small piece of fabric and be sure to “pat” the area clean instead of scrubbing at it. While it may take longer to pat a stain off the wall, rubbing it can spread the stain around and damage paint. It can also damage wallpaper.
Step 3: When removal doesn’t work. If you have tried everything and the mark still remains, it’s time to consider covering it up instead of cleaning it off. It’s recommended to keep at least one can of paint for every color used in your home.
If you do not have spare paint, you can take a small paint sample from an out-of-sight corner and have it color-matched by your local paint store. Then, simply paint over the mark. It may take a few coats to completely cover if you have lighter-colored walls. If you have wallpaper, you may need to repaper that section of the wall.

Part 3 of 3: How to clean marker stains off your furniture

A marker stain on your furniture can cause even more of a headache due to the fact you can’t simply paint over the marks and repairs can cost quite a bit more than a new coat of paint.
Step 1: Determine what needs to be cleaned. To remove a marker stain from your furniture, first, determine what material the stain is on. Furniture is made of all different types of material including:
  • Cloth fabric
  • Vinyl
  • Wood
  • Metal
  • Plastic
Step 2: Clean it up. Once you have determined what materials the stain is on, it’s time to start the removal process.
  • Marker on fabric: To remove a marker stain from fabric, dampen a sponge with alcohol. Apply the sponge to the stain and use a blotting motion to absorb. Change the sponge often to not smear the stain around further. If the stain remains, use upholstery/rug shampoo. Follow the directions on the cleaner as different brands require slightly different tools procedures.
  • Marker on wood, metal, or plastic: To remove marker, either washable or permanent, from wood, metal, or plastic:
    • Use isopropyl alcohol and pat or blot the stain until it is removed.
    • Use toothpaste and pat or blot the stain until it is removed. It is recommended to use a regular white, paste-like toothpaste versus the gel type due to it’s more abrasive properties (this method may scratch up metal and plastic, it is recommended to try this after other methods have been tried first).
    • Try nail polish remover and blot or pat the stain until removed. It is important to note that this may cause discoloration on heavily lacquered wood furniture.
    • Dry erase markers can remove permanent marker on hard plastics. Simply write over the stain and wipe clean, repeating until the marker stain is gone.
    • Use a Magic Eraser on hard plastic and some metals (excluding copper or stainless steel). Simply wet the sponge and gently wipe the stains away.
Step 3: When to call the pros. For antiques or more expensive, higher-end furniture, calling a professional furniture cleaning service can save you from further damaging your furniture. If you have tried the above steps without success, or tried a test spot and fear you may damage the fabric or other materials, professional cleaning services can come to your rescue and save you from having to reupholster or refinish your valued furniture.
Marker stains are bound to happen, whether you have children or a simple slip of your own hand. But, staying calm and using the right products with a soft hand, as well as taking your time knowing when to call a professional for help, can clean up just about any stain and leave your walls and furniture looking clean and like new.

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