How to Clean Dry Erase Boards: 10 surprising tricks.

how-to-clean-dry-erase-board-615

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

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

Comment navigation

      • I tried everything.. even febreeze. Nothing worked. I almost gave up when I saw my GARNIER SKIN ACTIVE MICELLAR WATER MAKEUP REMOVER(the waterproof makeup remover one, the one with the blue lid) it worked amazing. First wipe and it was gone… like I said I tried EVERYTHING

        Reply
    • Also try dryer sheets. Wet one and use it as a wipe. They work wonders on the bugs stuck to the bumper of your car. I thought they would be there forever! It indicates the toxicity of those products, so wear gloves and consider, "if it can dissolve bug guts from my bumper that no other cleaner could remove, do I actually want to use it on fabric that would be against my skin?

      Reply
    • Also try dryer sheets. Wet one and use it as a wipe. They work wonders on the bugs stuck to the bumper of your car. I thought they would be there forever! It indicates the toxicity of those products, so wear gloves and consider, "if it can dissolve bug guts from my bumper that no other cleaner could remove, do I actually want to use it on fabric that would be against my skin?"

      Reply
      • No it isn't I used it on my white board with a little bit of water and it didn't ruin the board at all. It made it look brand new.

        Reply
      • I didn't have any Comet, but I did have Soft n Scrub. So I applied it to a rag and washed the permanent ink marker stains off (a guest speaker had used an actual marker instead of the dry erase type provided). It worked great, but did take a little rubbing. I should add that we have "white board paint" on our office walls (we stopped buying mountable white boards ages ago). Soft n Scrub did not ruin the finish at all. Still shiny. No scrub marks.

        Reply
        • Hi there Ann, great tip ..thanks for sharing 🙂 you mentioned that you guys have been using dry erase paint in your office for a while!! It be great if I can hear more on how it's been performing for you so far? We are proposing sry eras paint on. The wall of kids playroom in a care center. I'm really keen to know if for example if the paint dulls at all after some time ? How often to u need refresh if at all ?Does it generally require a lot of care ? Oh also what brand do you guys use? It's awesome that you have been using it for a while ..that must be a good sign hehe 🙂

          Reply
    • Marshall Bloom says:

      Yes. I had Bar Keeper's Friend (couldn't find Comet on hand), and it worked where nothing else I tried did. Wrote a short list on a white refrigerator, thinking it would come right off. Learned two things: 1) Bar Keeper's Friend will clear the surface and not scratch it, like I feared, and 2) Do Not Write on the refrigerator – get a dry erase board and dry erase markers.

      Reply
    • It worked. Markings on the whiteboard for months. Took a couple of times. Let it soak for a minute or so and then wiped. Did not remove some of the old grunge. Green markiungs stayed as ghosts.

      Reply
  • Be aware that using some (most?) cleaners on a dry erase board removes the coating that makes erasing easier to begin with, so avoid using a cleaner for as long as possible. I don’t use black, since that seems to be the worst color for erasing. Once the coating is removed, you will forever need to use something to erase.

    Reply
  • Tried them all – strangely the toothpaste worked best for dry erase marker stains that were very old – then used rubbing alcohol to clear toothpaste off

    Reply
    • Tried them all too and most of them work if you scrub hard enough, but toothpaste you barely even need to apply pressure!! thanks! worked like a charm 😉

      Reply
  • I used “Goof Off” on a cotton pad. The old marker stains melted away and the board looked bleached white like new.

    Reply
  • Deodorant seems to work too, if you don’t mind the smell. I’d be wary of using water based products as that will often mess up the coating on the board (this includes things like screen cleaners).

    Reply
  • It’s not economical for erasing large portions, but by far the best and most convenient way I’ve tried is to just draw over the stains with a new coat of marker — then erasing that removes everything

    Reply
    • THANK YOU! After reading through these comments, I decided to try this, as some of the other suggestions seemed like they might do something to the coating. This worked for me, and I know that the coating won't be affected (or at least only as much as regular use would affect it). Brilliant!

      Reply
  • If you have written on the board with permanent marker or old dry erase ink has been left on too long, mark over the marks with a fresh marker and it will dissolve the old marks and you can wipe off everything. If it smears use a cleaner to get rid of the smears. Just made an old board with old writing on it look almost brand new.

    Reply
    • That is a genius idea because this much is true: Like removes like. It usually works. Learned this when I could not easily remove hair dye stains around my forehead. Now before I rinse off the hair coloring, I rub my skin with the hair dye that's in my hair. Then I rinse. No more skin stains, because like removes like.

      Reply
  • A woman who taught us how to use our Smart Projector on our whiteboards, who was also a chemistry major, told us the very best way to clean white boards is furniture polish! Yup – like Pledge. I have used that for years with great results. It doesn’t strip the coating and it smells nice!

    Reply
    • Wow, Debi! The pledge worked amazingly. We’ve tried so many different things and are shocked at how clean our whiteboard is right now. Thank you!!!!!!

      Reply
      • I used a generic furniture polish on a board that hasn't been erased in months. Some of the blue marks (the ones that NEVER come off) were stubborn. I had drawn over then with a blue marker before hand and they just smeared. I then used furniture polish and I was blown away that anything actually worked!

        Reply
    • Yep. Pledge (actually Endust) worked wonders. Found it best to let it sit just a bit, around 10 seconds before wiping. I think this is best too for retaining the original coating. Great suggestion.

      Reply
      • I used Enddust, and I had to let it sit too, used paper towels and it worked better if I worked at it with dry pieces of paper towel, but it was soaking up the marker, little by little. I now have a small white board that is now white, it had markings on that were years old.

        Reply
    • HOLY COW!!! I've tried everything and furniture polish took it all right off! Even the darn blue which is the worst marker in every brand! I probably shouldn't be so excited about this but I am! Thanks so much for passing that on!!!

      Reply
    • Ken Meshke says:

      Furniture polish that has a wax component also makes later clean-up a lot easier. The cheap Rite-Aid Lemon store brand works great. For the really stubborn stuff, alcohol and elbow grease works best. I just installed a used board that had stubborn, dried marker all over it and I first got it wet with the alcohol and then worked on quarters of the board until it was clean. I also blew through a load of paper towels; once they get dirty, they just smear.

      Reply
  • Wheel alloy cleaner that you would use to clean your car wheels is great. Spray on, and wipe off immediately. Then spray on a small amount of WD40, rub it all across and take off the excess. And you have a perfectly restored dry-whiteboard.

    Reply
  • Toothpaste seemed to work, but I didn’t want to use all of our toothpaste, so I tried “soft scrub” cleaner for glass stove tops. It works, although you still have to scrub.

    Reply
  • I tried the alcohol first and basically nothing removed. And I thought to myself, Baking Soda usually works on everything, and sure enough! I just loaded a bunch of baking soda on and used the abrasive side of the sponge. About a year of marker stains are completely gone.

    Reply
  • My board had writing on it that’s been on there for YEARS.

    No luck with either alcohol or WD 40 — both left gray remains of writing all over the board.

    Tried Bright Green brand All purpose cleaner, which is biodegradable, phosphate free and non-petroleum stuff like lemon juice and EVERYTHING came off.

    Reply
    • Sameena Mir says:

      My board was the same I tried vinegar and it didn't do much. However as soon as I tried cream cleaner (Asias own brand) it wiped of really easily.

      Reply
  • I had a dried on whiteboard that I scrubbed with a lot of elbow grease and eventually used a little vinegar, but it still left splotches of ink. I looked at all these harsh or messy options and then decided to try a tried and true cleaning home remedy of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide and everything just melted away!

    Reply
  • Do any of these work on whiteboard paint?? I have a section of wall that is stained and I don’t want to peel the paint off of the wall.

    Reply
  • Super Tony - the Teacher! says:

    If you have permanent marker stain or writing, here’s a great trick. Using a dry erase marker, write or scribble heavily over the permanent marker stain. let dry. then erase off. Simple. PS. You can do this on glossy paper that may have permanent marker stains as well. (Must be glossy paper though).

    Reply
  • Frank Sharpe says:

    Alcohol swabs worked perfectly and did no damage to the surface.

    The write-over-it-again method also worked, but as noted is extremely tedious.

    Hydrogen peroxide did NOTHING…total fail.

    Reply
  • I had markers on my whiteboard that had been there for a couple years.. PERMANENT TOO

    nothing i tried worked.

    I USED: COMET AND A SCRUB PAD.

    100% BACK TO BRAND NEW!

    THEN I USED CAR WAX TO PUT A COATING ON IT.

    PERFECTO!

    Reply
  • How was the board after using these to clean the board? Was it harder to erase after using these? I just don’t want to remove any protective coating and make it harder in the future to erase.
    Thanks

    Reply
  • tried lysol bathroom cleaner (with hydrogen peroxide) and that worked like a charm. about 90% came off after the first spray, then let it soak for the rest. Fab.

    Reply
  • Little comet on the yellow side of a damp sponge worked great! Didn't even have to apply pressure…I will never throw out another white board again! Thanks!

    Reply
  • Gin. Seriously – you don't need much. I cleaned a large whiteboard, both sides, with about a shot's worth on a few paper towels. It picked up almost everything, leaving no smears, no smell, no poisonous chemicals, no abrasive damage. Two very stubborn green lines were tidied using another marker.

    Reply
  • Declan Finlay says:

    Golden formula?
    put a dab of toothpaste down and rub it around with paper towel / tissue etc.
    dip another piece of paper towel into vinegar and wipe away the smudges left by the toothpaste.
    your welcome

    Reply
  • Lisa Bounds says:

    I just used an off-brand hand sanitizer with alcohol in it. With a little elbow grease it worked great! The stains have been there for about a year.

    Reply
  • My student house managed to stain our fridge with board marker and it wouldn't come off! Toothpaste worked amazingly!! Great suggestion, thanks!

    Reply
  • Aslan's Mom says:

    Im having the same problems cleaning white idea painted walls with residual ghost markings. Whiteboard cleaner worked OK, but not great. The Mr Clean pads worked good but not 100%. 99% alcohol worked wonderfully with a soft cloth and much rubbing but still have some residual markings.

    Reply
  • Goof Off. I had a white board that had 2 year old stain marks tried the magic eraser, it only took off a little bit after a lot of scrubbing. As soon as I sprayed a little bit of Goof Off, everything, including the deep really old marks came off with a swipe of a paper towel. Didn't hurt the white board at all. It looks brand new.

    Reply
  • I used Bengal, rubbing alcohol, & a kitchen scrub pad. it removed permanent marker, acrylic paint and glitter glue. and did not take off the coating, the dry erase markers wipe off just fine.

    Reply
  • I had a dry erase board that's been hanging in my kitchen (yes, lots of heat as well as an oil film from frying that no one ever noticed, haha), and it had a very colorful picture drawn on it from 7 years ago. Tried alcohol, wd-40, 409, peroxide, vinegar, hairspray…basically all the non-abrasive stuff. Didn't even lighten it. Had a bottle of Motsenbocker's Lift Off 3 Graffiti Remover (which is for pen, ink, marker, dried paint etc., and it says right on the bottle it's for dry-erase boards. Duh!) Sprayed it on and wiped off 7 years of dried ink…no scrubbing, no elbow grease, no problem. It's water based and biodegradable. I have a brand new board again ready for the next masterpiece my husband decides to draw on it. Worked great a few years ago when my grandson colored the cabinets with a sharpie, and it removed nail polish from the rug too. Good stuff to have around.

    Reply
  • I use baby wipes – preferably ones without aloe. They have always worked great but you need to clean with baby wipe then dry with a paper towel. I follow one with one hand and the other with the other hand. This keeps the film from building up and smearing.

    Reply
  • Pingback:I found the best way to clean a whiteboard after testing 9 treatments – Maker Josh
  • I used a blue marker. I used isopropyl alchocol to remove the writing. ok the writing was erased but white board became a blue board. any suggestions

    Reply

Comment navigation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated before publishing

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.