questionshelp-a-mod: can you help me fix my desk?

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I'm not sure if it would hurt the varnish on your desk, but I found that putting a little bit of baking soda on stains like that, then lemon juice (to create a nice reaction), letting it sit for a few minutes, then scrubbing the solution into the stain will usually take the stain right off. If you're in an office setting it may be difficult to get a hold of these... Try just plain rubbing alcohol? (again, may hurt the varnish, I'm not sure)

And if after everything you try, the stain is still there and you've pulled every last piece of hair out of your head, you could just get another couple of markers and color the whole desk the same color!

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Try rubbing alcohol. If that doesn't work, try fingernail polish remover. Try them in an inconspicuous spot first to make sure they don't remove the finish on the wood.

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Try a crayon? Specifically you can find markers that are designed to match the wood (Lowes, Home Depot, furniture store, Wal*Mart) that might fix the problem.

A pic might help us solve your problem as well...

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In my classroom I had the same difficulties with students "accidentally" writing on desks with dry-erase markers. We tried all sorts of solutions to get it off. I eventually took some Fantastic: Antibacterial Lemon Power solution to the marker and then used a brand new dry erase board eraser and a bit of elbow grease and the residue came right off. Just my two cents.

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I have also heard that letting hairspray sit on a stain for a bit and then rubbing it in a circular motion before it dries may help!

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@kd1357: Hmm, didn't think of baking soda. Makes me wonder about kosher salt -- works for cleaning cast iron gently.

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Try some rubbing alcohol. If that does not work use acetone (finger nail polish remover). WD-40 can work well but the smell may persist. Goof-Off is a good all-purpose solvent and they make a water soluble version too. Note that any solvent may impact your desk's finish. The fact that the dry-erase marker is difficult to get out suggests that your finish is vulnerable to additional damage. You might want to test an section first. Other thoughts: Cover the stain with a desk blotter or some other piece of equipment, or incorporate the stain into a piece of art on the desktop. Finally, cover the desk in Formica and it will never stain again.

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could always use a well place important memo or report to cover it

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@gatzby: May I get a cast iron desk? :D

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@inkycatz: Sure, but you're responsible for acquiring, moving, seasoning, and grilling.

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@inkycatz: I would totally take up @gatzby on that offer. You can then break down your old desk and send pieces in BOC to people. That. would. be. awesome.

Edit: AND you could create a video of you hitting it with a baseball bat..and fists. ::cue office space::

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If all else fails and you have some spare time (LOL, like any of us do), maybe you could just paint the top of your desk black, then put a varnish over top of it for protection? I had an old wooden desk given to me that was in great shape except for the top had a bunch of marks on it, so I painted the top black, put a protective coat on it, and it looks great, and now I don't have to worry about marking it up. And the two tone looks cool.

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isn't that why you're called "inky?"

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Have you tried the old dry erase marker trick? Cover over the spot with dry erase, take a dry erase eraser and erase. Usually works, have to do it while the dry erase ink is still wet though. Don't let it dry before you wipe it.

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@zuiquan: I didn't even know that trick!

This is why I come to ATC, really. I'm not savvy in the ways of offices.

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@zuiquan: That could make matters worse however... :)

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@studerc: lol, it could. It's worked on loads of things that I thought were totally ruined though so I think it'll work. Fingers crossed. Hopefully it's just dried on the surface and not actually stained the wood. If the wood is stained then that's bad.

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Grain alcohol and matches- I guarantee you won't see any dry erase marker lines when it's done.

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@panthiest: I don't think I'm allowed to set things on fire.

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oh oh, try the other side of a dry eraser, the styrofoam part can sometimes wipe it away. Thats on actual dry erase board though.

I think the best way to get it off the desk is with a dry method.

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Though it may seem strange, one of the best removers is toothpaste and a small brush. You can use a soft toothbrush to gently scrub the surface - but you may get a few strange looks.

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@adadavis: I get strange looks just by being here. It's no big thang.

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@inkycatz: If you get to feeling photograph-y later take a picture of it.. it'd help us get to know the stain better.

It oodles of different "techniques.." rubbing alcohol can work pretty good for breaking up ink. It looks like people have already suggested a lot of the more popular ones. They also make special solutions for this kind of thing.

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WD40. It gets all kinds of stains out. I got permanent marker off a doll with WD40 once. Also, it got some kind of glue off of my oak furniture without damaging the wood. That stuff is awesome.

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@drchops: I'll see what I can do, but I can share the marker is a Marks-a-Lot Dry Erase.

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@inkycatz...any luck with the desk thus far?

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A friend of mine works for Sanford (which makes Dry Erase boards and markers). When one of my employees wrote on a Dry Erase board with a permanent marker, he told me to write over the lines with a Dry Erase one and wipe it off immediately. It dissolved the permanent marker and the board was clean. I am not sure if it will work the same with dry erase to dry erase, but if all else fails, I would give it a try.

On a side note, baking soda and salt are both abrasive, so I think that they may mark the desk surface, or take off some of the finish.

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I'm surprised the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser didn't work. That thing is amazing.

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pure lemon juice & cooking oil, mix well, apply w/ cloth as needed.

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@studerc: I don't know, I don't have most of these things on hand in a standard corporate office. I am however, making a shopping list.

"I see, you want rubbing alcohol, lemon juice, baking soda, WD40 and 409. We're not judging, we just want to know what you're doing. Oh, and Coke Zero? Well we understand that part."

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@inkycatz: I'm still all for the idea of the cast-iron desk. Cut your losses. Or you could just set the building on fire...yes more office space :)

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@bogie21: She cites that in the initial question.

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@inkycatz: If it's real wood, that's gonna be porous and what you're seeing may be really down in there. You may need to sand it down and refinish it, though that obviously won't work on a wood veneer or anything like that. I'd say odds are you're creeping into "learn to live with it" range.

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De-Solv-It Contractor's Solvent. I can verify that it removes permanent marker and is citrus-based.

EDIT: This can be purchased in eaches at hardware stores and home centers' :)

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I am voting with @mtm2 and @psaux ,their answers are seem the best.

Your desk should have been sealed with a varnish, but wear can remove most of the protection. The ink from the marker has been drawn into the wood's pores and wicked along the grain. The existing varnish may actually help protect the stain now. Removal (sanding) of the surface and stained material will just cause a more obvious blemish.

Adding solvents and letting them sit will simply allow it to spread a bit further, though it will lighten it a bit. Think of gel phosphoresis (works by osmosis) you may have done in school (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gel_electrophoresis). It might be possible to apply a solvent and immediately apply suction to pull some of the pigment from the wood.

However, the best solution will be one of the color matching crayons used for fixing nicks and chips in wood finishes. You can find them at paint stores, hardware stores and home improvement stores.

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I was going to recommend the same thing that @lynnaux recommended. My teacher friends swear that writing over permanent marker ink with a dry erase marker, at least on a dry erase board, will do the trick. It's worth a try to do that in a small spot and wipe it up quickly while it's still dry to see if that works. If not, I find that plain old Fantastic or 409 cleaner will remove strange stains like koolaid on formica, so they are worth a try, too. If that fails, maybe an oil-based cleaner like Goo B Gone.

If all else fails, perhaps you could get creative and turn it into a copy of the Woot! logo. You know! Like folks who have tattoos that say "I love Anne" who have to change it to "I love Annette."

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You could sandblast the desk right in your office - expect a little bit of dust.

Or, you could take the top off, turn it upside down, and reattach.

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Have you tried Stridex/Clearasil pads? Those will take permanent marker off skin. Not certain about off hard surfaces, but worth a try.

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I scanned through the info, but could not locate what your desk is made of: wood, varnish top, office wood grain formica surface (like in cubicle desks), etc. That can make all the difference here. wrong thing can ruin the varnish/stain.

If all else fails, take a picture, post it and we all can come up with a desk "tattoo" to disguise it.

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Have an artist use dry erase marker on your desk to create something beautiful that incorporates the existing marks.

Hey, it works for hiding bad tattoos...

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You'd be surprised at how effective windex can be on marker stains. Good luck.

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@inkycatz Would a lysol wipe or clorox wipe or a wet one wipe work? Never tried this on wood, but can vouch for the lysol or clorox wipe working wonders of getting copier toner (charcoal) off the copier that came off of my hands or from trying to change the toner bottle, or off the desk counter as well.
If not, you could try glass cleaner which may not be as strong as fantasik or 409.

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What @inkycatz desk will look like after trying all these methods. Note that it started out the size of a quarter.

(actually, I don't know how big it is; haven't seen it). I will say that using another dry erase marker has worked for me in similar situations.

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Well now with a few more blotches, that looks almost artistic.

Now to address some concerns/questions/give updates:
1. Pictures - that's really dependent on me remembering to take a picture and editing/uploading at home - the computer I use in the office is profoundly barebones in nature because it is not technically my machine. I took some pictures and can upload them later, is what I'm saying.
2. Just tried the small dot of dry erase over existing ink - doesn't work, and you will be able see that in the picture I managed to get.
3. As payday is soon, then I can go shopping for cleaning supplies. Bonus, with all the cleaning stuff being recommended I'll probably have the cleanest apartment in Seattle too afterwards. (Provided someone wants to come do laundry. Anyone?)
4. Plants, etc, won't work as a cover up as it is by the corner of the desk near my elbow. I might just get a mousepad.
5. The desk is damaged anyway and I need more coffee.