Ink is one of the most challenging stains to remove from wooden surfaces. However difficult it might be, it’s not impossible either.

This article will how you how to get ink off wood using readily available products. If you’re lucky enough to catch the fresh ink stain, removing it is as easy as wiping up spilled coffee.

However, if the ink has penetrated and dried on the surface, you can try dissolving it, bleaching, or even sanding the stain off.

Let’s get into the details.

How to Get Ink off Wood

Wipe fresh ink stains off the wood using a cloth soaked in warm, soapy water. If the stain is dry, make a paste using baking soda and water. Apply the paste and rub it on the stain. Let it dissolve the stain for 15-20 minutes. Wipe the residue off the surface with a damp cloth.

Precautions when Removing Ink Stains Off Wood

These practices will guide you to avoid further hurt-burn-inducing problems.

  • Always test a stain remover product on an inconspicuous area before using it on the entire area.
  • Acetone mineral spirits, alcohol, and bleach contain harsh chemicals which can be flammable. Therefore, only use them in a well-ventilated area, away from open flames, and while wearing a respirator and rubber gloves.
  • Be extra cautious when using a combination of commercial cleaning products to avoid an unprecedented chemical reaction.
  • Always store or dispose of product containers appropriately and away from children.

How to Remove Ink Stains from Wood (Fresh Pen Ink)

You have better chances of getting rid of fresh pen stains if you catch them moments after they happen. Instead of reaching for the paper towels, run to the kitchen sink instead.

Mix a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid with a cup of hot water and stir the solution to create a lather. Use a soft cloth to scoop the foam and wipe it over the ink stain. Wipe away the excess foam and ink residues using a damp cloth.

If the stain persists, repeat the treatment process and gently rub the stain to help lift it off the wooden surface. Finally, wipe the wood with a fresh cloth to clean up the residue.

How to Get Dried Ink Off Unfinished Wood using Acetone

Acetone is often used as a nail polish remover. It’s also a potent stain remover that will eliminate dried ink stains in less than 5 minutes.

Unfortunately, it will damage the finish on your wooden surface, exposing bare wood. That’s why it’s better suited for unfinished wood.

Acetone is also great for removing permanent marker from wood.

Supplies needed

  • Acetone
  • Cotton wool
  • Clean cloth

The procedure

  • Place a ball of cotton wool against the opening of the acetone container. Flip the bottle upside down, lightly squeeze it to expel the liquid, and soak the cotton wool.
  • Gently rub the soaked cotton wool over the ink stains.
  • Keep checking the stained surface as you blot the ink. Add more acetone if the cotton ball is becoming dry.
  • Wipe the surface with a soft cloth dampened in water once the stain is comes completely removed.

What about water stains on raw wood? Here is a detailed guide on removing dark water stains from unfinished wood.

How to Get Pen Ink Off Wood using Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) is a common household product used to disinfect wounds and surfaces. It’s also excellent for removing various stubborn stains.

If the ink stain settles on your office desk or a piece of antique furniture, this product will dissolve the ink stain without harming the finish.

Supplies needed

  • 90% isopropyl alcohol
  • Clean rag
  • Cotton balls

The procedure

  • Pour rubbing alcohol over the cotton balls to soak them.
  • Gently wipe the soaked cotton on a small spot to see if the alcohol reacts negatively with the wood finish. Proceed if the surface doesn’t give an alarming reaction.
  • Rub the drenched cotton balls on the pen ink stain. You’ll notice the ink fading off the surface and transferring onto the cotton balls.
  • Swap the inked cotton wool for a fresh one and repeat the treatment process. Stop when the treated surface looks flush with the surrounding wood.
  • Wipe the surface using a wet cloth and finish with a dry one.

How to Get Ink out of Wood using Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits (also called white spirits or turpentine substitutes) is a petroleum distillates. It is often used as a thinning agent for oil-based paint and wood stains.

This product is a potent solvent that will help you get ink out of wood by dissolving it. However, it may damage finished wooden surfaces.

Supplies needed

  • Mineral spirits
  • Gloves
  • Mask
  • Cotton wool
  • Clean rag

The procedure

  • Soak a ball of cotton wool or cotton swab with mineral spirits and wipe it over the stained surface.
  • Gently rub the cotton wool over the stain and let it set for a minute. The spirits will dissolve the ink and lift it off the surface.
  • Wipe the surface with a damp cloth and assess the texture. Repeat the ink stain removal process if necessary.
  • Wipe the surface with a soapy cloth to eliminate the product residue.
  • Buff the surface with a dry cloth.

How to Remove Ink from Wood Furniture using Bleach

Bleaching wood is another reliable method for removing ink stains from wood furniture. Begin by choosing the type of bleach you will use; chlorine bleach, two-part hydrogen peroxide, or oxalic acid bleach are all excellent at removing ink stains from wood.

However, the effectiveness of this method is only practical when used on unfinished wood with a huge stain.

Supplies needed

  • Bleach
  • Gloves
  • Mask
  • Goggles
  • Spray bottle
  • Clean rag

The procedure

  • If the wooden furniture has an existing finish, strip it off using denatured alcohol or chemical stripper.
  • Next, prepare the bleach solution and apply it to the stained furniture.
  • Let the bleach work for 15-20 minutes.
  • If you can still spot the ink, reapply the bleach solution and let it set for longer, even overnight.
  • Once the wood furniture is free of ink stain, rinse the surface with water to remove bleach residues.
  • Rinse the surface again with a solution of water and white vinegar to counter the residual yellowing of the bleached wood.
  • Finish the cleaning process with a final rinse with lots of water, then let the wood dry completely.

Sand the ink stain off, or use a pull scraper

Only consider this option if the previous methods have failed to get the job done. Sanding or scraping the inked surface is a fool-proof method of removing ballpoint pen ink stain from wood.

Sanding can be used in dulling down a high gloss finish mainly because it involves chipping part of the stained wood, exposing a new wood surface beneath.

Supplies needed

  • Pull scraper
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth or clean rag
  • Sanding block or palm sander

The sanding procedure

  • If the stain covers a small area, sand it off using a 120-grit sanding block, and use a palm sander for larger stains.
  • Collect the sanding dust using a bristle brush or a shop vacuum.
  • Repeat the sanding process if the surface demands it, and finish sanding with a fine-grit sandpaper.
  • Vacuum the dust off the surface and wipe with a tack cloth or with any tack cloth substitute.

Using a pull scraper

  • Pull the scraper over the wood, using light pressure, so the blade removes light wood shavings.
  • Repeat the process until you remove the inked part of the wooden surface.
  • If the surface looks bumpy or has divots after scraping, consider sanding it with fine-grit sandpaper.
  • Collect the dust with a bristle brush and tack all the dust particles off the surface.

Learn more here on how to remove wood stain from concrete.

How to Get Old Ink off a Varnished Wooden Table using a Toothpaste

Varnished surfaces are elegant and delicate. If the ink stain tries to ruin its beauty, white toothpaste will remove it and leave the surface as good as new. In this case, you will need regular white toothpaste.

Supplies needed

  • White toothpaste
  • Old toothbrush
  • Soft cloth

The procedure

  • Squeeze a pea size or generous amount of toothpaste and spread it over the ink stain.
  • Lightly dampen an old toothbrush and rub it over the paste to help loosen the ink stain.
  • Leave it to settle for 10-15 minutes.
  • Wipe the surface with a damp cloth.
  • Repeat the process, if necessary, until the stain fades.
  • Wipe the varnished wood again with a damp cloth and then buff it with a dry one.

How to Get Pen off the Wood Table using Baking Soda

Baking soda is another effective ink stain remover. This household product can remove ink stains from finished wood without harming the finish. Baking soda also works well in cleaning unfinished wood surfaces, thanks to its mild abrasive property.

Supplies needed

  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Soft cloth

The procedure

  • Create a baking soda paste by dissolving it in water, until the mixture thickens.
  • Scoop the paste and apply it on the ink stained surface, rubbing gently.
  • Let it sit and dissolve the ink stain for 15-20 minutes.
  • Wipe the surface with a damp cloth to remove the residue. Repeat the process if necessary.
  • Buff the surface with a dry cloth once it’s stain free.

Pro tip: This method may be effective for temporary marker pens. Some of the best acrylic paint pens for wood surfaces stick to the surface better and won’t be as easy to remove with baking soda.

How to Get Rid of Ink Stains from Waxed Wood

This is one of the easiest surfaces to clean if it gets an ink stain.

Using a cork stopper

  • Grab a cork stopper, rub it against the ink stain and watch it fade.
  • If the stain proves to be stubborn, sprinkle baking soda and rub it away.
  • Wipe the surface with a damp cloth and let it dry.

Scrubbing with fine steel wool and liquid wax

  • Dip the steel wool (#0000) in a bowl of liquid wax and rub it gently against the ink stain.
  • Wipe the surface with a damp cloth to remove the wax and steel wool residues.
  • Let the surface dry completely, then reapply a coat of wax and buff it to a gloss.

How to remove pen marks from wood using other home remedies 

Here’s a list of products to remove pen ink stains from your wooden surfaces. 


Mix a tablespoon of white vinegar, a tablespoon of dish soap, and two cups of warm water in a bowl. Soak a cotton ball in the solution and then use it to blot the ink stain. Wipe with a dry cloth once all the ink stain is gone.

Lemon juice

Squeeze a fresh lemon into a bowl and mix it with a bit of salt. Soak a cotton ball or clean rag in the mixture and rub it on the ink stain.

The salt crystals help break down the ink, while the lemon juice brightens the surface. Wipe the surface with a wet cloth.

Hair spray, insect repellent, window cleaner, or sunscreen

Spray any of these products on cotton wool and use it to rub on the ink stain. These products will work effectively if they have a high alcohol percentage. Repeat the process as necessary.

You can also try commercial products like Oxiclean, Stain devils, simple green, goo off, or orange wonder to remove the ink stain from wood.

See Also: Do You Wipe Stain Off After Applying?


How to get ink off a wood table

To get pen ink out of a wood table, begin by mixing water and baking soda to make a thick paste. Scoop the paste onto the ink stain and rub it back and forth. Work along the wood grain until the ink stain lifts off. Wipe the surface with a damp cloth to remove the residue.

How to remove pen ink from white table

First, saturate a ball of cotton wool in rubbing alcohol. Next, rub the wet cotton wool over the ink stain using gentle circular strokes. Replace the inked cotton ball with a fresh one until the white table is spotless. Wipe the residue with a damp cloth.

How to remove stamp ink from wood

Prepare a cleaning solution by mixing half a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid, a tablespoon of ammonia, and a quart of lukewarm water. Apply this solution to the ink stained area and let it soak for 15 minutes. Gently rub the wet stain to loosen it, and then soak it again for 30 minutes. Rinse off the residue with water.

How to get ink off wood floor

To remove ink from hardwood floors, combine a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol with equal amounts of turpentine and olive oil. Dip a cotton ball in the solution and blot out the ink stain. Keep the product moist for about 10 minutes while it dissolves the stain. Wipe the hardwood floor with a damp cloth.

See also: Best way to remove scratches from furniture.

Wrapping Up on How to Get Ink off Wood

We hope we’ve captured all the practical solutions from our research on how to get ink off wood.

We swear by rubbing alcohol, baking soda, and toothpaste as the most effective cleaning methods for removing ink stains from finished wood.

On the other hand, acetone, common household bleach, or sandpaper will also remove ink stains from wood surfaces; only you’ll have a refinishing job to do.

If you enjoyed this piece, feel free to share it. However, if there’s an ink stain remover we missed that’s efficient, kindly tell us about it in the comments section below.

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