General Question

Kairi's avatar

Cleaning Emergency!

Asked by Kairi (794points) November 20th, 2013

I noticed that someone at my job had thought that it was a good idea to write and scribble with a black pen on the work station desk. it’s some kind of finished wood, I think. like a wood countertop.

What can I use to get it off? At my disposal I have soap/water, 409 Disinfectant/cleaner/degreaser, screen cleaner, and Chlorox wipes. I can’t use anything from the storage closet because it’s not ours to touch. Any ideas?

I need to get this off before I get in trouble for it. It’s 1:38 AM and my boss will get here by 6:30 AM, so I don’t have long to figure this out. I took a before picture of it, logged it in the log book we have to fill out, scrubbed with 409, soap, and water, and it’s working somewhat, but not enough. Help!

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25 Answers

johnpowell's avatar

Does anyone in your building have nail polish remover?

Kairi's avatar

@johnpowell unfortunately, since I’m the security guard, I’m the only one here. The station’s employees went home

anniereborn's avatar

Why would you get in trouble if someone else did it?
I’d try the clorox wipes.

Kairi's avatar

@anniereborn I always get in trouble for other people’s mistakes around here. and if I don’t clean it up, I’ll get yelled at for not cleaning it.

surprisingly, the chlorox worked better then the 409 did

2davidc8's avatar

Do you have one of those office emergency kits or boxes that have rubbing alcohol or disposable alcohol wipes? Try those.

JLeslie's avatar

Regular ball point pen? Aerosol hairspray breaks that up really really well, but it might affect the finish on the desk too. Since it is a work station it might not be real wood and then you would be fine. You can test a small corner before you try it on the area that was drawn on.

The hairspray trick works great on clothing also, if you ever get pen on your clothes. Just spray and then wash the area with a little detergent and water.

Smitha's avatar

Spray some WD-40 on it and wipe clean.

snowberry's avatar

The sooner you can clean it up the easier it will be. If it sets, it may not come off at all. If you had some baking soda on hand (check the refrigerator in the employee kitchen or maybe the cabinets there).

What you do is, dump some out in a little pile, wet your finger, and dip it in the baking soda. Then rub the mark. It should come off.

If you can’t find baking soda, try artificial sweetener (it has a crystalline structure similar to baking soda). Neither one should scratch the surface.

glacial's avatar

In future, I would recommend doing a little research before trying every cleaner you have. Using certain cleaners might make it more difficult to remove the stain, if you try the wrong combination. Important details: what kind of ink was it – was it a ball-point pen or a Sharpie? What sort of material is the desk made of or covered with – is it porous, will it have absorbed the ink? Use the answer to these questions to google for the appropriate cleaning method. Might be too late now.

CWOTUS's avatar

Sometimes, as perverse as this sounds, you can actually clean the stain with the same agent that made the stain. I’ll give an example. Occasionally people write on white boards in our office with permanent marker, and after it has dried, that can’t be just wiped off the way the dry-erase stuff can be. The solution is to use the same type of permanent marker to write over the now semi-permanent stain and then quickly wipe everything off while that is still wet.

I wouldn’t recommend that on a porous surface such as unfinished wood, as the wood grain will only soak up more of the stain. That will cause a worse problem. But if you have a surface such as painted metal or wood, melamine or other smooth, non-porous material, then it might work just fine.

And if you’re being blamed for the actions of people who are not responsible to you in the first place, find a new job. That has to suck.

Kairi's avatar

@2davidc8 we don’t have one, unfortunately. all we have are what I’ve already listed, sitting in the bottom drawer. the sprayer on the 409 bottle is almost broken off and held on with tape, so it’s old. probably why it didn’t work

Kairi's avatar

@JLeslie regular black ballpoint pen.

I didn’t have any access to hairspray. there may be some in the makeup room, but that belongs to the station so I can’t touch it.

I’ll keep that in mind for future issues!

Kairi's avatar

@Smitha I’m not sure where I could get some at my job, but I’ll keep that in mind if I need it any time soon!

Kairi's avatar

@snowberry I don’t think there was anything in the kitchen. there was some artificial sweetener though for coffee and stuff.

Kairi's avatar

@glacial I did do a little research. soap and water was my first idea because that normally works on my table at home. the 409 website said it’s safe, but since the bottle was old, it didn’t do much ^^”

regular ballpoint pen, non-porous surface

Kairi's avatar

@CWOTUS I’ll keep that in mind. messes on the table here happen more often then not, sadly. I don’t know why people do this kind of thing instead of doing their job. there’s a television in here if you’re that bored, or bring something with you to do. like a notepad to doodle or a book to read or something. the boss brings his game system and I bring my laptop, so it’s not like that kind of thing is forbidden or anything.

it’s finished wood, so I think it was okay. it’s non porous, so it’s fine. some of the lines were made really deep, though, and one was actually filling in the gap in the corner, where the two pieces of counter (one horizontal and one vertical) meet.

I don’t get in trouble for the making of it, I get in trouble for not cleaning it up. I tried to clean up the mess someone made on the floor of the office, but I couldn’t get some cuz it was too small or too dug in, and I got in trouble for not picking it up some. I’d get a new job, but I need this one for rent and job pickings are kind of slim up here.

snowberry's avatar

Tell them that if they don’t give you anything to clean with, you can’t do a good job! Since it’s your job to clean stuff, here’s a small list:

Goo Gone (might still do the job for you, but you have to clean it off right away).
SOS pad
spray cleaner without ammonia (it will say “for use on all surfaces” on the label)
baking soda (see my instructions above on how to use).
Mr. Clean eraser (never use this on painted surfaces)
cleaning rags (you can bring a couple of old tee shirts from home if you need to)
paper towels
rubber gloves to protect your hands.
toilet bowl cleaner (or you can use a dollop of ammonia in the bowl and scrub as usual with the brush).

Here are some rules for using cleaners. Be sure to let them know when you run out, or need a different product. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions about cleaners.

Never combine bleach and ammonia. It produces very poisonous gasses.
Always read the instructions on your cleaner.
Never use an ammonia based cleaner on plastic. It will ruin many plastics.
If switching cleaners, rinse your spot and your rag carefully before starting with a new product.

JLeslie's avatar

So, just bring some aerosal hairspray next time you are there. Or, maybe the cleaning crew will already have removed it. Again, do a test spot. My kitchen table looks like real wood and it isn’t. I can spray anything on there and nothing bad happens.

Kairi's avatar

@snowberry the smell of bleach makes me sick, anyway, so I try not to be near it/use it. Thank you for the list!

Kairi's avatar

@JLeslie It was mostly gone when I left, but it looks like my boss got the rest of it out after I left work. I’m not sure the desk at work is real wood. It might not be, for all I know ^^”

snowberry's avatar

Keep in mind that steel wool (SOS pads) will scratch many surfaces, including all plastic, painted, and wood surfaces. Spot check in an out of the way place before you use it.

snowberry's avatar

Oh, and paper towels, of course. Sorry I missed that detail. :D

Kairi's avatar

@snowberry I’ve never used steel wool before. Haha my go-to is always paper towels and soap :D

snowberry's avatar

OK, shorten your cleaning supply list then. LOL

Kairi's avatar

@snowberry sounds good XD

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