7 Easy Ways to Remove Pen from Walls Without Damaging Paint

Pen stains on walls are a pain to clean but they are also a sign of a home full of love and activity. 

Don't worry, I will show you how to get rid of them without causing too much damage to your walls.

how to clean pen off walls

I have sacrificed my walls and taken the time to test these stain removal methods. I did this so that I am CERTAIN that I am not just telling you things I THINK work, but stain removal methods that I KNOW work.

So if you have a budding artist in your home who loves to create art with pens, permanent marker, or even crayon, I have a solution for you.

Here are my best stain removal methods:

#1 Nail Polish Remover

Nail polish remover is hands down one of the most effective methods for removing pen marks with minimal damage to your walls.

clean pen stains with nail polish remover

As you can see from the picture, the stains came off completely. However, I recommend going over it a few times with a fresh cotton pad to get the remaining stains off.

To use:

  • Pour a small amount of nail polish remover/ acetone on a cotton ball or pad
  • Test on a small area first
  • Go over the affected area firmly, be careful not to lift the paint
  • If the wall is stained from the ink, repeat with another round of cotton pad till all the ink comes off

Best for: All kinds of pens, markers and crayon 

clean pen stains with nail polish remover

removing pen stain with nail polish remover

#2 Baby Wipes

I saw this tip online and after testing, I can say for certain that it works.

clean pen stains with baby wipes

 Although, I must warn that it does not work on every kind of painted wall. It works best on washable and emulsion paint.

Unfortunately, it took off a bit of the paint off from the area that had a permanent marker stain but it was very effective on crayon and pen stains. 

To use: 

  • Fold a wipe over your finger
  • Wipe back and forth over the ink marks
  • Dry with a clean cloth 

Best for: Crayon and pen stains 

clean pen stains with baby wipes

cleaning pen stains with baby wipes

#3 Magic Eraser Sponge

Magic erasers are my go to method for most pen stain removal on walls.

clean pen stains with magic eraser

However, if you go too hard, it can remove the paint off the wall. I found that to be the case when I tried to remove permanent marker stains.

Magic erasers or melamine sponges as they are also called, work best for crayon and pen ink stains. They do not work as well on permanent marker or stubborn ink stains.

To use:

  • Wet the sponge and squeeze out the excess
  • Test on an inconspicuous area first
  • Go over the affected area in a back and forth or circular motion
  • Be careful not to go too hard

Best for: Crayon and pen stains

clean pen stains with magic eraser

cleaning pen stains with magic eraser

#4 Isopropyl Acohol/ Rubbing Alcohol 

Using rubbing/ isopropyl alcohol to clean pen stains will offer the least damage to your wall.

clean pen stains with rubbing alcohol

However, it will not take out every type of pen stain and it requires a bit of elbow grease. If you ask me, I'd say it's the best method for smaller stains.

If you don't have rubbing alcohol, you can also use some alcohol-based hand sanitiser. 

To use: 

  • Pour a little rubbing alcohol/ hand sanitiser on a cotton ball or pad
  • Go over the affected area firmly
  • If you see a lot of paint come off, be more gentle
  • If the wall is stained from the ink, repeat with another round of cotton pad till all the ink comes off

Best for: Pen and crayon stains

clean pen stains with rubbing alcohol

 cleaning pen stains with rubbing alcohol

#5 Soapy water

Dish Soap is the oldest solution for pen stains and that is because it works!

clean pen stains with soapy water

However, it works best on washable and emulsion type paint.

What I love about this method is that it offers the most minimal damage to the walls and it's the most simple method. Almost everyone has dish soap at home. 

To use: 

  • Make a mixture of dish soap and warm water in a small bowl 
  • Dip a sponge into the solution and squeeze out the excess
  • Go over the stained area in circular motions
  • Wipe any excess with a paper towel or clean cloth

Best for: All kinds of pens, markers and crayon

clean pen stains with soapy water

cleaning pen stains with soapy water

#6 White Toothpaste

I tried this method because I saw how popular it was online but it was a complete waste of time. The stain did not come off properly as you can see below.

clean pen stains with toothpaste
clean pen stains with toothpaste

#7 Commercial Cleaners

I consider this a last resort option if the other methods don't work for you. In some cases, the best thing to do is buy a specialised product manufactured for ink stains.

This is where I recommend buying an ink remover. There are so many on the market and they will differ depending on where you live. 

How to Clean Different Pen Stains Off Walls

I thought it best to give you a table you can refer to depending on the type of stain you have. These are the methods I have tried for different types of stains.

Ball point pens and crayons are the easiest stains to remove from walls, permanent markers on the other hand are really difficult to get off your walls. 

Type of Pen Stain

Cleaning Method

Ballpoint pen ink

Nail polish remover, baby wipes, magic eraser, rubbing alcohol, soapy water, ink remover

Permanent marker stains

Nail polish remover, soapy water, ink remover

Crayon marks

Nail polish remover, baby wipes, magic eraser, rubbing alcohol, soapy water, ink remover

Pencil marks

Nail polish remover, baby wipes, magic eraser, rubbing alcohol, soapy water, ink remover

Tips for Preventing Pen Stains on Walls

When you have a little artist aka a child or a lot of foot traffic, stains on the wall are inevitable.

Here's how to minimise the possibility of it happening in the first place.

I will also caveat this by saying that my son, at the time of writing this is only 22 months old so some of these tips may not work if you have older children that are a little more independent. 

Tip #1 Create a dedicated wall: 

I have seen this work in a friend's house. She painted a large chalkboard wall with some chalkboard paint and asked her son to write only on that wall.

It might not work with every child but it is worth a try. 

Tip #2 Keep pens out of reach: 

The only way to maintain a clean wall is to stop it from happening is to clear your home of all pens.

Whilst some argue that it mat stifle the children's creativity, it's what I do and is definitely worth a try.

If you home school this is nearly impossible, but if your kids go to nursery or school, it is very possible to implement a no pen policy.

Tip #3 Washable Paint: 

if you have the means and time, I suggest using washable paint all over your home.

It just makes the process of getting stains off the wall a lot easier with little to no damage to the walls.

Tip #4 Repaint: 

Don't beat yourself up if you have little artists who have made your walls their canvas.

Kids will be kids. I know it's easier said than done, but I'd rather have a happy childhood for my children, even if it means having an untidy home.

If a cleaning solution you try is not as effective, repaint if and when you can. 

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Hey you, I’m Torera

Hey there! I am Torera, a home care and cleaning enthusiast with a mission to make cleaning as fun and easy as possible for women like you. As someone who had to learn everything from scratch, I have the mindset of a beginner and know exactly how to take you from A to Z. Let us ditch the overwhelm and create a space that is clean, cozy, and totally you!