How to Clean Dry Erase Boards: 10 surprising tricks.

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It is the bane of every teacher and public speaker’s existance– dry erase marker stains that won’t come off your dry erase board. EXPO & Quartet make  great dry erase board cleaners that get rid of stubborn stains, but if you don’t have any on hand, there are a surprising number of products found in nearly every home and maintenance supply closet that should do the trick.

Clean dry erase board marker stains with:

  1. Isopropyl Alcohol
    Make sure you are using the 99% or 90% solution. The 70% stuff doesn’t work nearly as well.
  2. Peroxide
    No 99% Isopropyl alcohol on hand to clean your dry erase board? Try peroxide.
  3. Hand Sanitizer
    Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are better than “natural” sanitizers at cleaning your dry erase board — better at killing germs on your hands too.
  4. WD-40
    At this point, I want to know if there is anything WD-40 can’t do. (Answer: yes.)
  5. Hairspray
    Spray on, wipe off, then get rid of the sticky residue with soap and water.
  6. Toothpaste
    Actually, toothpaste removes stubborn stains from most smooth, non-porous surfaces.
  7. Ben-Gay
    Slightly abrasive like toothpaste, and contains alcohol for added cleaning power.
  8. Comet
    Abrasive with proven cleaning power. Your dry erase board will look brand new.
  9. Coffee Grinds
    Of course, once you’ve used coffee grinds to scrub off dry erase marker stains, you have to turn around and clean off the brown coffee residue. Still, works in a pinch!
  10. Vinegar
    Should probably list this first, since vinegar and water are my go to solution for most cleaning projects.

Do you have any tips and tricks for keeping your dry erase board looking new? We’d love to here them. Share your advice in the comments.

Sources: WikiHow, Gizmodo

258 comments on “How to Clean Dry Erase Boards: 10 surprising tricks.

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  • A. Storm Dottore-Beck says:

    Non Acetone nail polish remover worked fantastic. had old perm marker on it and it just washed away and did not seem to harm the board at all. I am glad the GF had a bottle on the bathroom sink. (not going there!)

    Reply
  • Alcohol worked great for me. No rubbing required. Removed dry erase marker stuff that had sat there for 2 years. Finish was unmarred.

    The whiteboard eraser had done nothing.

    Reply
    • I SWEAR BY THIS FOR EVERYONE!!! I tried all of the above and NOTHING worked…I poured alcohol on the board and took a #2 pencil eraser and rubbed the alcohol around and it all magically came off!!!

      Reply
    • I didn’t have 99% rubbing alcohol so I tried the 70% I had on hand and it worked great! Removed stains that were over a year old AND permanent marker that had been on for several years!!! Thanks y’all.

      Reply
  • The toothpaste worked great for me. I had blue dry erase marker on a laminated score card. Now I know I should get rid of all my blue markers!

    Reply
  • Randy Coller says:

    Tried all of the above, + Wesley's White tire cleaner, straight bleach, corn starch. None of which worked. 🙁

    Reply
      • Something you might try is an actual old school rubber pencil eraser.
        Not the kind on the pencil but the matchbook sized ones.
        The friction creates a little heat and then it comes right off.
        It does require a little elbow grease on big areas, but for small spots its awesome.

        Reply
      • Using dry erase over permanent marker takes it off. We had vandals draw on a white board with permanent marker. Rubbing dry erase marker over it and then erasing as usual got it off. It hurts the dry erase marker so use some from Dollar Tree.

        Reply
    • Lol, I should stop myself before I even ask… your reference to deodorant is for spray, yes? Though, heck, if I am willing to smoosh toothpaste all over my dry erase surfaces, I shouldn't think twice about smearing some deodorant solid on them! Thanks 🙂

      Reply
  • It's my understanding that using rubbing alcohol permeabolizes the surface so that any subsequent writing penetrates and will not come off.

    Reply
    • Sandy Gadberry says:

      Yes! I tried the rubbing alcohol trick and now the new marks will not come off when I try to erase them. So frustrating!!

      Reply
  • Little man used the wrong type of marker on his board. After reading the comments, I tried some regular old Crest and it came right off!

    Reply
    • If you just have a few lines of percent marker and not a situation that the entire board is messed up there is a quick and super simple solution. Use a dry erase marker on top of the per entry marker line and then erase, bam the percent marker is gone!

      Reply
  • In graphic arts and my print shop there is a spray we use called “speciality film cleaner”. It’s used for cleaning film negatives used to make printing plates.
    It not only removes the old stuff but makes the surface like new and new markings come off easier.

    Reply
  • I tried the Toothpaste thing and it worked , but after writing again it was getting permanent and I cannot apply toothpaste every time so , please provide me a permanent solution for this ,

    Reply
  • Nancy Maxwell says:

    I used the purple dry erase from a new set of Crayola dry erase markers to diagram some facial studies for my drawing class. In the previous two weeks I had used all the rest of the colors on other demos, all on my same large white board (approx 3ft x 4ft). However this time, when I went to erase at end of class, it would not wipe off. At all. period. I tried: dry paper towel, wet paper towel, dry erase cleaner, dry erase cleaner/conditioner, glass cleaner, multi-surface cleaner, 409, vinegar, alcohol, mineral spirits, goo-gone, magic eraser, tooth paste, white marker and coloring the purple with another color and wiping off. NOTHING! The purple is still there, strong as ever. I will give hairspray and acetone a chance tomorrow but not holding my breath!
    My call to supplier Dick Blick, resulted in them offering me a new set of the markers. Huh? The markers aren’t broken! “How about my ruined white board?”
    “Well you didn’t buy that from us so we can’t repkace it; we will give you a $15. coupon”
    #DickBlick # Crayola

    Reply
    • Please try a liquid call 'thinner' buy from hardware shop….. i always do that to clean my board..for stubborn stain

      Reply
    • I recall reading that to remove permenant marker from a dry erase board, you should write over it with permenant marjar and then quickly wipe with paper towel. So maybe if you use the same purple marker and then wipe. Let me know if it works please.

      Reply
      • You go over permanent marker with dry erase marker to take it right off. I use permanent near the door where the kids line up because they love to run their fingers through my objectives LOL. Then just go over it with cheap dry erase to take it off.

        Reply
    • When I was in college I got to know the Janitor, she cleaned all the boards twice a week with a mixture of water and dial soap. It worked great for the stains on the cheat boards. I do not know how much dial dish soap to water but she made it by the gallon and just refilled her sprayer.
      I sure hope this helps, you next year during the school year.

      Reply
  • I tried all of the above. Nothing worked. I was ready to buy another whiteboard. But I was cleaning my kitchen and decided to use a degreaser called Purple power and worked nicely.
    Don’t give up guys!!

    Reply
  • I used Norwex Cleaning Paste with damp sponge. A little elbow action added and it did the trick. Call a Norwex rep.

    Reply
  • Peroxide didn't work at all for me; it even made that spot harder to get clean. Vinegar and water was pretty good, but still some stubborn spots and then toothpaste worked perfectly! I'll just start with that next time.

    Reply
  • Something you might try is an actual old school rubber pencil lead eraser.
    Not the kind on the pencil but the matchbox sized ones.
    The friction creates a little heat and then it comes right off.
    It does require a little elbow grease on big areas, but for small spots its awesome.
    Plus with the fine control you have with it, you can put draw a rival sport team logo on a coworkers whiteboard and they will have no way to get it off unless they know to use an eraser.

    Reply
    • HA! That made me burst forth with an explosion of coffee. I wasn't expecting that last comment. What a riot! Thanks for the chuckle. If I still worked in an office setting that prank would definitely come in handy 😉
      — I am a fan of the eraser too; my go to is the polymer rectangles. I hoard them in my teaching supplies. Never thought to try them on my tainted dry erase surfaces!!!

      Reply
  • Once your board is clean rub a little turtle wax on it. It fills in the pores and scratches and keeps the boards cleaner longer (experienced teacher speaking)

    Reply
    • Thanks. I was wondering where the second half of the solution was. I will do this next. I finally managed to clean my board with Wright's Silver Cream that I happened to have.

      Reply
  • The dry erase marker decided it did not want to come off the board at all. I used just about everything then got a SOS pad after it and it came right off. Yay!

    Reply
  • Paula Newell says:

    I use a s.o.s soap pad and a little water and if you want also use hand sanitizer with it ! I do it works good for me

    Reply
  • Jerry DiGiovanni says:

    3M liquid cleaner wax folks. It’ll have the board looking like you just bought it. And minimum effort I might add. Like it was made specifically for that. You’re welcome 😉

    Reply
  • I tried 91% rubbing alcohol – didn't work. Windex – didn't work. baking soda – didn't work. Then for some reason I thought of the Wright's Silver Cream I had under the kitchen sink. Worked like a charm!!!

    Reply
  • I use a little lemon or orange essential oil on a paper towel. A couple drops does the trick. No scrubbing. Good as new and it doesn't eat away at the white board finish.

    Reply
  • How to keep dry erase bords shiny and clean? Use car wax. Apply with a wet dry rag. Let it dry. It will be filmy and dull. Wipe with a clean soft dry rag til all wax is removed. Bord should be clean and shiny.

    Reply
  • "BAR KEEPER'S FRIEND" (like in a Comet cleanser can) DID IT FOR ME. AMAZING RESULTS.
    LEARNED ABOUT IT WHEN CLEANING HARD WATER STAINS ON MY CAR WINDOWS LEFT FROM LAWN SPRINKLER WATER RESIDUE THAT NOTING ELSE CLEANS.

    Reply
  • If its a small mark draw over it with anouther whiteboard marker and then wipe, it magically disapears 🙂

    Reply
  • Interesting page here … I'm having the same problem with removing built-up ghosting on our workplace whiteboards. What's "interesting" (at least on page 1) is that it's totally lacking critical context for answering the subject question. No one has mentioned that there are several different types of dry-erase boards on the market AND that they're not all created equal. So what "works great on my dry-erase board" might easily ruin yours.
    Types of dry-erase boards:
    – From my experience, porcelain steel whiteboards are king. Porcelain is basically glass which is not easily marked even with a permanent marker. Compared to all other whiteboard types, porcelain steel is bullet-proof. Some come with a 50year warrantee.
    – Another category of dry-erase surface is dry-erase paint. I have experimented with this and am impressed with at least its short-term erase-ability. I don't know about long-term erase-ability nor whether the surface can be easily renewed with a fresh coat of paint.
    – As best I know, all other types of whiteboards are a substrate + layer of white onto which a very thin film of clear dry-erase material is applied. Most of these clear films seem to have very effective dry-erase capabilities (at lease in the short-term), but the durability of the films vary widely. Some films are very fragile and will peel completely off the white when removing tape. Some of the more durable films will delaminate from the white when removing tape thereby creating a blister. Note to self: don't use tape on these dry-erase boards!
    Guessing, most dry-erase boards in use are of this last type, and all of these clear films will be damaged by abrasion. I thought this worth mentioning because some of the above mentioned "cleaning" products are abrasive (ei. scouring powder, toothpaste). These products work (in large part) by "sanding" away the surface. This practice will initially diminish the board's erase-able properties and will eventually wear completely through the dry-erase film and remove it from the whiteboard. Whoops!

    Abrasives might diminish the erase-ability of the other dry-erase types too, but those boards don't have the clear film layer of the other category.

    As to the other mentioned cleaning products that are caustic (acidic or alkaline) and the solvents like alcohol, I can only advise caution. I've discovered 90% isopropyl alcohol to be highly effective at cleaning (and at ruining the adjacent wall paint). I'm using it on the Walltalker II product (film type) made by Koroseal. I do not yet know how it will affect the long term erase-ability, but I will follow up later with my findings.

    Bottom line: given these variables, "How to clean dry-erase boards?" is not easily answered other than "It depends …"

    Reply
    • Alyssa Ochs says:

      You make an excellent point here, Ken. Thanks so much for sharing your tips about ways to clean different types of dry-erase boards on the market!

      Reply
  • Sylvia Ore says:

    I also found something that anyone could try. I used Palmolive Super Scrub Gel Paste for hard to clean dish and pot scrubbing. This stuff even works on the areas my self cleaning oven doesn't get. Stuff is great and doesn't scratch the pots and dishes. I have used it for years on the oven and pots and pans.

    Reply
  • HELP!!! I accidentally used a Clorox disinfecting wipe on my dry erase board sorry if I missed where this is discussed but how do I fix my dry-erase board that now doesn't erase after the Clorox wipe???

    Reply
  • Jeff Mayall says:

    I've had many whiteboards over the years, but I have this one that has stuck around with me 30+years.
    If has a label on the back that i 'assumed' was…well…the label.
    The other day I actually read the label. Low and behold it was cleaning instructions!
    They recommend ammonia based cleaner, but here's the best part; after you clean it, you should "chalk it".
    Yup, chalk as in blackboard.
    They say to use white chalk, hold it on it's edge and rub it over the entire surface, then wipe it off.
    Should make the board like new again!
    I have to admit, I haven't tried it yet (no chalk laying around). It says it will get ride of the ghosting effect too.

    Jeff

    Reply
  • D'anne Donley says:

    Hair spray worked great for my inexpensive white board at work! Now to find the culprit who defaced my white board with permanent marker….

    Reply
  • Kindergarten teacher says:

    Hello all,
    Thank you for this page. I tried the vinegar with a little success and a lot of elbow grease. I tried bleach, no luck at all. Then I tried nail polish remover, mine has acetone, and two year old dry erase marker came off with ease. I had 15 double sided white boards to clean, so I didn’t have time, energy, or strength enough to clean them. Nail polish remover works!!

    Reply
  • I used hand sanitizer on the white board and it worked like a charm . This was before I even knew about this article!

    Reply
  • kinder teacher says:

    I have tried several ways of cleaning (hand sanitizer, Magic Eraser, rubbing alcohol) and also reconditioned the board with WD-40. It seemed to be working and looked clean but is now hard to erase again. Has anyone had success with applying one of those static cling whiteboard films over their existing board to refresh it? .

    Reply
  • John Anderson says:

    Just used this for some VERY suborn stains on my dart scoring white board – worked perfect. Brand New now!

    https://www.amazon.com/Carbona-Ceramic-Cook-Top-Cleaner/dp/B004X2913I/ref=asc_df_B004X2913I/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=198057711065&hvpos=1o2&hvnetw=g&hvrand=13740857157094335369&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9052539&hvtargid=pla-351191458758&psc=1

    Reply

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