How to Get Ink Off of Wood

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Whether you live alone or in a house filled with children, getting ink stains on your furniture is inevitable. There are multiple ways in which those sneaky stains find a way to ruin a neat piece of wood, and getting rid of them seems like an almost impossible task. 

However, as stubborn as they might be, there are still ways available to remove them, and this article will help you figure those tricks out. 

Stick around, and we’ll provide you with five different methods you may use to clean up your wood. Also, make sure you read the useful tips shared at the end of this article. 

So without any further ado, let’s jump right into it:

Method 1: Use Baking Soda 

ARM & HAMMER Pure Baking Soda 8 oz

We’ll start with the all-time favorite DIY cleaning agent, baking soda. This slightly abrasive powdery substance works wonders when it comes to cleaning up stubborn stains, dirt, and grim, thanks to its mild alkali properties. 

  • To use this removal hack, simply mix some baking soda with a little bit of water to create a nice paste. 
  • Spread the mixture on the wood to cover the stained area completely and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes. 
  • After the time is up, take a warm damp cloth and clean up the dried paste. 
  • If the stain is still there, apply the baking soda mixture again and gently scrub it in using an old toothbrush; then let the mixture stay for another 10 – 15 minutes, then wipe it off using a damp cloth.

Method 2: Use Rubbing Alcohol 

Isopropyl Alcohol 99% (IPA) Made in USA - USP-NF Medical Grade - 99 Percent Concentrated Rubbing Alcohol (1 Liter)

This is a quick and easy way to remove ink stains; however, be aware that alcohol can be pretty harsh, so it may dry the wood and leave stains on your wood’s finish. So only use this method for minor stains or bare wood. 

  • To use this technique for ink removal, take some cotton (a cotton ball, cotton pad, or even the absorbent cotton used for medical purposes; anything you have at hand will do) and soak it with rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol. You may also use a cheap hairspray as an alternative if you don’t have alcohol available at the moment.
  • Next, gently pat and wipe off the ink. Be careful not to leave the wet cotton ball on the wood for long or rub it vigorously, or the alcohol may damage your wood’s surface.
  • Once done, clean up using a clean cloth dampened with water.

Method 3: Use Toothpaste 

Crest 3D White Toothpaste Radiant Mint, 3.8 Ounce (Pack of 3)

As toothpaste contains a lot of amazing ingredients that help remove stains from our teeth, those same ingredients can also help remove other stains. We recommend using this method if the ink stain is fresh and hasn’t had time to penetrate the wood deeply. If the stain is old, the toothpaste will definitely manage to lighten the ink stain but most probably won’t be able to remove it completely.

  • In order to use this hack, apply toothpaste to the stained area and forget about it. No, we aren’t joking. This method will take quite a long time to work. We recommend leaving it for 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Next, take an old toothbrush and gently scrub the area in circular motions for a few minutes. 
  • Now wipe the area clean using a damp cloth. 
  • Repeat the process if needed.

Method 4: Use Dishwashing Liquid 

Dawn Dish Soap Ultra Dishwashing Liquid, Dish Soap Refill, Original Scent, 56 Fl Oz (Pack of 2) - Packaging May Vary

Another method that is most suitable for fresh ink stains is dishwashing liquids. They have many active ingredients that have numerous qualities that help clean stubborn stains and grease efficiently. Benefiting from these properties, we can use it to quickly clean fresh ink stains before they have had time to sink deep into the wood. 

  • To use this method, mix a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid in a quarter cup of water. Stir the mixture well until it foams up.
  • Next, take a cloth and soak it in the mixture; make sure you collect the foam studs too. Now apply that mixture to the stained area by dabbing and rubbing the cloth on it. 
  • Let the stain be covered slightly with the mixture for about 20 to 30 minutes. 
  • If the ink stain persists in staying, get a ball of fine steel wool and slightly dip it in the mixture again to collect the lather gathered on top of the mixture, then carefully scrub the stained area with gentle motions following along with the wood grain.
  • Later clean up the soapy mixture from the wood using a clean cloth and some water. 

Method 5: Use White Spirit

Winsor & Newton Artists' White Spirits, 75ml

Similar to the rubbing alcohol method, using white spirit for cleaning up stains is a quick and easy method (also often used for cleaning oil-based paints and thick finishes from brushes); however, it is also pretty strong and may dry out and damage your wood’s protective coating. For the sake of your wood’s beautiful finish, only use this method for stains that are small or on bare wood.

  • To take advantage of this paint thinner’s cleaning properties, you’ll have to take a clean cloth or some cotton and soak it with the spirit.
  • Now gently wipe the stained area to remove the ink from your wood. Keep a close eye on the wood’s surface; make sure you don’t end up removing all of the wood’s finish along with the stain.
  • You can also gently scrub the wood using a ball of fine steel wool if the stain isn’t going away, but work quickly so that you only end up removing as little finish as possible. Skip this step if not required.
  • Finally, wipe the treated area clean with a cloth and some water.

Method 6: Use Bleach

Clorox HE Performance Bleach, 121 Oz. (Pack of 1)

This goes without saying, but bleach is an extremely strong chemical so for this method, make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area and are wearing the necessary protective equipment needed. Bleach does a fantastic job when it comes to removing all sorts of tough stains, so it is recommended in this list; however, you’ll need to be smart about how you use this safely to clean up the ink mess. You may use the normal bleach you use in your home or purchase oxalic acid bleach or two-part wood bleach; it’s your choice.

  • In order to use this harsh disinfectant to remove tenacious ink stains penetrated deep into the wood’s surface, you’ll first have to prep it and remove any of the wood’s finish.
  • Use a cloth soaked with denatured alcohol to remove any protective coating. Then use very-fine grit sandpaper to remove the coating left, if needed. 
  • Remember to clean up using a clean cloth and water.
  • Now dilute the bleach a bit with some water. Then soak a cloth with the solution and apply the bleach to the stained wood by rubbing it all over the desired area.
  • Let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes, letting the bleach work its magic.
  • Now carefully clean up and thoroughly wipe the area down with a clean cloth and some water until you are sure that there isn’t any bleach residue left on the wood.
  • Next, use a dry cloth or towel to remove any moisture left on the wooden surface.
  • It is recommended to wait for at least a day before you reapply any finish on the wood.

Tips and Ideas

At last, it is time to share some useful tips and ideas regarding your cleaning process. Read the following advice and take them into consideration when you use the methods described above.

  • It is always best to first test how a particular piece is responding to a product before you use it. So start with testing it by applying a little bit of the solution to a corner or less obvious place and check the result before you actually use it for the intended purpose.
  • Keep in mind that what type of ink it is, how long the stain has been there, and whether the wood has any protective coating or not will have an impact on how the methods mentioned above will work.
  • Always make sure to clean up any residue of the cleaning solution properly after you are done with the treatment, especially if the object cleaned was a utensil used in the kitchen or a dining table.
  • Be attentive while using strong chemicals and abrasive products. Wear appropriate protective gear, make sure there are no children near, close the lids of the bottles properly, do not leave the chemicals on the wood longer than recommended, and always follow the direction of the wood grain. 


We understand how frustrating getting rid of these ink stains can be. We hope we have managed to provide you with at least one method you are happy to try out.

Please feel free to leave a comment below if you decide to try one and would like to share your thoughts and experience with us. Thank you for reading, and good luck with your cleaning mission!

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