Don't Cry over Spilled Ink

When I was six years old, I saw this vast expanse of white—bigger and more prominent than any piece of paper—that beckoned me to draw. A small voice inside me knew it wouldn't go over well, but it was beyond tempting. So I did it. And after covering half of the living room wall with doodles, my mother walked in and went ballistic. She didn't appreciate the cave drawings her daughter so enthusiastically contributed to her crib. And then I had to wash the entire thing off.


Only it wasn't pencil. It was ink.


How do you get ink to come off a white wall? There are a plethora of options, and as I found out, none of them really work without some elbow grease.


  1. A 2:1 ratio of Baking soda and water scrubbed onto the ink and then rinsed.

  2. The Magic Eraser was made for this sort of thing. However, this will also take the sheen off the paint. So if your walls have a matte finish, this won't be as much of an issue, but be advised that the abrasiveness can wipe away the finish.

  3. Baby wipes. Who knew? Baby wipes are good stain removers. The detergents in them help them lift fresh ink from walls. This might make you a bit hesitant about using them on your baby (although non-toxic baby wipes that are paraben and alcohol-free are now easily found), but thankfully they are good at something.

  4. Rubbing alcohol. Perfect for the most resistant of stains. Dab a cloth or Q-tip with a mixture of rubbing alcohol diluted in water. Like the Magic Eraser, rubbing alcohol will remove paint finish, so dab on gently and wipe off.

  5. Toothpaste. Put the toothpaste on the stain for up to ten minutes, then wipe off. The hydrogen peroxide helps dissolve the ink and the whitening agents help bleach the color. If the entire wall is covered, maybe this isn't the best option, but then at that point, the best option is to completely sand, prime, and repaint the wall.


Zep, makes a foaming wall cleanser that purports not to strip paint off walls. However, as with any method, test a small area first before diving in and possibly creating irreversible damage that will tip you into general contracting instead of just cleaning.


PopUP CleanUP will clean walls as an add-on service with commercial or event cleaning—we've vacuumed velvet walls and removed black paint from windows and cleared infinite numbers of cobwebs in the past—after a complimentary walk-through of your space.


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