How to Remove Pen from Painted Furniture

Remember that sweet little vintage dresser I painted for my daughter’s room?  I lovingly re-finished it and put new knobs on it and it was perfect and oh so cute.  Until today when I discovered my darling six year old had written on the top of the dresser with pen.  PEN!  Oh the horror!  I will admit, seeing that scrawl tortured my soul just a bit.

I scowled at her.  “What is this!?”

“Sorry mom.”

This is normal for kids to do.  I know that.  I did it as a kid too and I guess this is my payback.  They just don’t think about their actions and I knew that she understood she had done something wrong. After doling out an appropriate punishment, I set to work fixing the inky mess.  There was no way I could just leave it like that.

First I googled “how to get pen off painted furniture.”  I read about toothpaste, hairspray, Mr. Clean magic erasers and vinegar.

I thought I wouldn’t get too carried away and would try a simple approach first.  A disinfecting wipe.  No luck.

So I grabbed a can of hairspray and gave that a shot. I really soaked it and let it sit before wiping it away with toilet paper. It was somewhat successful in that it did take off some of the ink.  It didn’t take it all off though. My next attempt – toothpaste.  No luck.  Toothpaste didn’t make any difference to the damage.

I went into the laundry room to see what I had in there and found a can of lubricant.  This is the dollar store knock off of WD40.  I had nothing to lose.  I gave it a little squirt and rubbed it with soft toilet paper.  Success!  It worked!

how to get pen off painted furniture

CAUTION:  This did remove the very top shine of the paint finish.  Because my paint is white, and because I was very gentle, you can’t really tell unless you look at it a certain way in the light.  I tried to get a photo but it wasn’t visible in the picture. I would imagine a magic eraser or baking soda or other abrasive would have the same effect.  I then went over the spot with some furniture spray.  The waxy spray left a film and covered up this issue.  Furniture wax would likely fix it as well.

It’s not as though the incident never happened but at least it is inconspicuous now.  Much better than ink.  Gah.  Kids!




  1. Oh yes, I remember the days of kids painting & writing on anything they could reach. Fortunately, they are the ones dealing with it now that they have their own. (what goes around comes around??) I would never have thought of using WD40, good to know it works.
    Debbie 🙂

  2. I wouldn’t have thought to use the WD40, so that’s a great tip – thanks for that! I know for fabric, it’s the alcohol in hairspray that takes the ink out, so now I go straight to the rubbing alcohol, but I’m guessing that wouldn’t have been any better than the hairspray in the end – nope, will just head straight for the WD40 for the furniture now!!

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