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How To Clean Marker and Ink from Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is often present in a relatively wide expanse, either as a kitchen sink, work surface, or architectural trim. The added surface area means added opportunity for stray marks to show. Many solvents are compatible for use with stainless steel, which gives an advantage to removing marker and ink from stainless steel surfaces as compared with more porous surfaces. Still, since surface treatments and finishes can vary somewhat, any cleaning method or material should be tested in an inconspicuous spot prior to use in a wider area.

Start with a gentler solvent like rubbing alcohol. Take a clean, soft dry rag and dampen a corner with rubbing alcohol. Apply the alcohol dampened rag directly to the marker spot to remove a portion of the stain. Continuously switch to a new, clean area of the rag to which clean rubbing alcohol has been freshly applied. This will help avoid thinning out the stain in such a way that it becomes a staining film, rather than removing it a small portion at a time as is our goal.

If the ink or marker is older, and is resistant to being removed with rubbing alcohol, you can progress to a stronger solvent. Keep in mind that solvents and cleaning agents should not be combined, any fumes present from previous cleaning attempts should be allowed to dissipate completely, and fresh cloths and rags should be used. Take a clean, soft dry rag and dampen a corner with lacquer thinner. Apply the lacquer thinner dampened rag directly to the marker spot, rubbing with gentle pressure in the pattern and direction of the existing finish. Continuously move to a clean section of the rag with freshly applied lacquer thinner. Rinse or sponge the affected area with water, and pat dry with clean paper towels.

Caution: Never mix cleaning agents or chemicals, the result can be dangerous or deadly. Before cleaning, always test the agent on an inconspicuous location to determine its suitability and to make certain it does not damage the material. Wear appropriate clothing such as gloves and protective eyewear, and work in a well-ventilated area. Accidental inhalation or ingestion of cleaning agents can be hazardous and even fatal, particularly to pets and children.

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