How I Removed Permanent Marker From My Kitchen Table

So teenagers are not given nearly enough credit for what they know. Seriously. I have been having a teenage babysitter to come over once a week so that I can get some additional things done around the house, deal with the upcoming move and, of course, blog. My three-year-old discovered where the Sharpie permanent markers are kept and although she is pretty responsible for her age and would never start drawing on the walls or anything along those lines, she did use them for drawing at the table. Without her place mat. Can you see where this is going?

So as any veteran permanent marker user would know, permanent marker goes through a sheet of paper like that *snap of my fingers*. Less than pleased I heard myself say “how do you get permanent marker off a kitchen table?”. To my surprise my babysitter came back quickly with an answer: toothpaste. I guess it pays off to be the oldest of seven kids after their recent adoption this fall! Her mother has taught her well.

I ran to the bathroom to grab a tube then my eyes widened and a smile spread across my face as it came off like magic. What a relief! We had another bleed though this week, since I haven’t gotten around to changing the location of the markers (note to self to do that this week), and it came right off with a little dab and a quick scrub. So then I got a little crazy. Wanting to share this tip with all of you I decided to draw on the table with permanent marker, just to take a picture and show you how it works. It works that well.

So I grabbed a permanent marker, got the courage to place the tip down on the table and made a little squiggle. Then I proceeded to try three different varieties of toothpaste, thanks to all the little samples we bring home from the dentist to see if it would work with any variety. I tried Burt’s Bees natural toothpaste (white), Crest Original (white with a blue gel stripe) and a Colgate toothpaste (blue gel).

Of the three the Burt’s Bees worked the best and it is clear that the base of the white toothpastes is the most effective. The Crest did a good job as well, it just took a couple more swipes to get the job done and the Colgate did little to nothing. I glanced at the ingredients for the Burt’s Bees toothpaste and it is probably the calcium sodium phosphosilicate and/or the silica that help scrub off the marker. I would guess that any white toothpaste would contain scrubbing ingredients like the Burt Bee’s, although I cannot be certain without having tried it myself.

So there you go. How to remove permanent marker from a finished wood table with toothpaste. It even tried it on a red and black stain on another part of the table that a magazine left behind when it got wet. That stain had been there for months and regular spray cleaners failed to remove it. All gone now!

Dislaimer: this worked with my particular finished wood table and I do not hold responsibility if it does not work for you. I do not recommend trying this experiment at home, but if the stains have already happened it wouldn’t hurt to try and see if this works for you!

{If you enjoyed reading How I Removed Permanent Marker From My Kitchen Table I would be tickled pink if you left a comment. To read more about my green(er) parenting aspirations, advice and adventures be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed or get updates via email.}


By Emi Stapler. I am a cloth diaper advocate, green parenting blogger, mother of three and a military wife who enjoys sharing my motherhood adventures and advice. Follow me at The Cloth Diaper Report on Facebook, Twitter @TheCDReport , Google +, Pinterest and Instagram.

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  1. Wow! What a great discovery. I am going to have to remember this!

    • Isn’t it? I am pretty excited about it and I love that it is something most people already have at home!

  2. WOW! Miracle! Thank you so much. I just cannot believe the amazing resource the Internet can be. It worked great on my finished kitchen table and did not compromise the finish – so relieved!

    • I was pretty relieved as well! Even though our table is an ancient hand-me-down I was hoping to get another year or two out of it and it is a great trick to keep tucked away for when we finally get a new table in the future. So glad it saved your table as well 😀

  3. Thank you so much!! It worked great!

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