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

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

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  • Dwayne Matthews says:

    I have found that if you have stubborn marks that will not come off its because the finish is compromised on the dry erase board. If you have a board that is not compromised:
    1. Wipe marks off with a dry-marker eraser.
    2. 50/50 Water-Alcohol (90 or better) mix sprayed on board then wipe with a clean cloth (do not use paper towels)
    3. If You can increase the amount of alcohol if necessary.
    Note: for brand new boards water will work.

    Reply
  • I used Spot Shot stain remover to remove old markings that didn't get completely erased. Worked like a charm….

    Reply
  • Jennifer Racinowski says:

    We have a dry erase board, and the finish has worn away. Is there anything that can clean the existing surface, and any way to refinish the board?

    Reply
    • Jim Nasium says:

      Yes. Dry erase enamel is available at most home improvement stores. Compare the cost and time to the cost of a new board though.

      Reply
  • QuartzChimera says:

    This article was a live saver. I drew on an antique set of luggage something like 14 years ago when I was a kid. It belonged so someone in the family that passed. I thought it would come right off and me and my friend drew some stupid "hot" stick man and wrote a lot of dumb things on the side. It did not come off. My mother was very upset. 14 years later I come across this, try alcohol which works a little but not enough. Try toothpaste and it is back to its former glory, and shined up to boot.

    Thank you so much!

    By the way the material was a semi porus reptile skin texture faux leather. And it still came up!

    Reply
  • Thirty-five years ago while in my office I got a big splotch of black ink on a white shirt. I figured there was nothing for it but the trash but a colleague treated it with Amway's "LOC" cleaner, I put it on a hanger to dry and put it back on. That "ruined" shirt was in regular rotation for another year or so..

    I'm not an Anway supporter by any means but I've kept spray bottle of LOC solution on hand ever since; I replace a gallon jug every 10-15 years. After WD-40 (from your list) produced no results at all on the whiteboard of a kids' easel from a neighbor's garage sale, I tried LOC. Spray, wipe, dry and good to go. No rubbing, no scrubbing. Disclosure: LOC had no effect on the blackboard side of the easel, which had its own dose of marker.

    Reply
  • Wish I had read this 30 minutes ago! It would have saved my arm from scrubbing with rubbing alcohol and nail polish remover. Comet finished it off in seconds! Thanks!

    Reply
    • I tried every item on the list, just like you! Comet cleaned it pronto, with hardly any scrubbing.
      ( now to put my arm in a sling from rubbing, and rubbing and rubbing with alcohol, and WD 40). Lol!

      Reply
  • I didn't have rubbing alcohol, tried peroxide, no success. Then moved to hand sanitizer. Miracle! Worked great. Then dragged out really old whiteboard I'd left for dead with ancient stains. Hand sanitizer did not work. Went for toothpaste (with baking soda). Totally worked! Inspires me to try even harder on my teeth!

    Reply
  • Avoid anything that leaves a greasy residue on the surface as you will not be able to write with the markers afterwards.
    If you do use something like fantastic which causes the marker to no longer write, you can restore the surface by wiping it down with cigarette ashes (the graphite).

    Reply
  • why use anything abrasive (comet????!!!) Now you've removed some of the slick finish that makes future marks easily wipe-off-able. Sure it'll look great after you've scrubbed all the current marks off but now you've ruined the surface for future use. 🙁

    Reply
  • whiteboard cleaner says:

    I tried vinegar and water.. nope.. citric acid.. nope.. hand sanitizer sort of but not enough.. then I tried some degreaser (oven cleaning stuff) It came off so fast and easy and i just went over it with a clean damp towel afterwards.. so DEGREASER WORKS!!

    Reply
  • For those who used Comet or alcohol, did you find that the finish was stripped off? I'm afraid of ruining the white board by stripping the coating, which makes it easy to use dry erasers.

    Reply
  • I have a board with smudges but my main concern is what is on my board that doesn't allow the markers to write in certain areas. Will these cleaning ideas work on those areas?

    Reply
  • I wouldn't have believed this if I hadn't done it myself, I just totally restored a filthy whiteboard using Eucryl tooth powder mixed with water

    Reply
  • Wow, Vinegar worked a treat!
    I used it liberally on a kitchen towel, and its like new. I followed up with a kitchen working surface spray cleaner 'Detox' to remove the vinegar smell.

    Reply
  • Fantastic!! Comet worked like a charm after we tried alcohol, peroxide and hand sanitizer. Almost gave it up for dead. On to grad school for this board. THANKS!!

    Reply
  • I tried Vinegar, Peroxide & Hand Sanitizer, – none had any effect at all.

    Last try was BenGay and it was immediate and effortless. Plus my office now smells GREAT !

    Reply
  • Omgosh!! Hand Sanitizer did the job of cleaning the Dry Erase Board!!!! It was so dirty that it took 2 cleanings, but looks amazing!! Best of ALL…..no HARSH smells that linger all day and leave me sick!!!

    Reply
  • Had some old whiteboards that haven't used in a long time. Based on the content, was likely 10 years dried on. tried vinegar with limited success on one but none on the other. Squeezed a little toothpaste on my finger and smeared it on the boards. Everything came off easily.
    I think hydrogen peroxide is the main ingredient in toothpaste so that might be reason it works.

    Reply
  • Kurt Keutzer says:

    I went through Expo White Board Care, isopropyl alcohol, and white vinegar – the one working about as well as the other; however, I still had lots of black marker left on the old white board. Perhaps it was even permanent market. Then Goof Off worked to completely clean the board. Yay Goof Off!

    Reply
  • Maria C Di Felice says:

    My whiteboard is over 10 years old… it had some gnarly stains on it from all these years. It never bothered me until I decided to use it on my twins' nursery. I tried the toothpaste trick and it worked so well! The board looks brand new

    Reply
  • I actually used Lysol Disinfectant Spray and it was a lot faster all you do is spray it on and wipe it away and the stain is gone

    Reply
    • Alyssa Ochs says:

      It really is amazing how well toothpaste really works for this! Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Pam!!

      Reply
  • Just tried toothpaste and out of the 3 colors I used (neon pink, yellow and blue) blue is completely gone but pink and yellow are still there. Might have to get a new board after reading it might be due to a compromised board.
    thanks for sharing

    Reply
    • Alyssa Ochs says:

      That's too bad it didn't work for all the colors! Feel free to browse our site for a replacement board – we have lots of great options!

      Reply
  • We didn't have alcohol, or peroxide or toothpaste or hairpsray at work, and I couldn't find the WD40 so I tried VIM cream (bathroom cleaner) and it worked wonderfully. After cleaning all the marker stains white with vim on a soft cloth, I wiped down with damp cloth to remove any cleaner residue.

    Reply
  • I tried windex, vinegar even a magic eraser (which I think works on most everything)… NOPE… Tried the toothpaste, just for kicks… and BAM, took it off in about 30 seconds. I used Colgate white paste. Spread it on with my fingers and tried to use a paper towel to wipe it off. That didn't work well, so wet the paper towel and used it wet. It came off with very little effort. And bonus, now it smells good! lol Seriously, would't have believed it till I tried it. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Alyssa Ochs says:

      You're welcome, Angie! Toothpaste with a wet paper towel and then a dry one seems to work wonders. Minty fresh too!

      Reply
  • Absolutely amazing!! I thought I'd try a combination of more dry marker and Pledge to remove a combination of 4 year old dry marker and 6 year old permanent marker. Voila! Ten minutes later my board is completely clear. It even smells nice!

    Reply
  • Bushmans Personal Insect Repellant worked great. Have been told it works to remove permanent marker on white board. Haven't been silly enough to test it yet 😉

    Reply
  • Just cleaned my "uncleanable whiteboard" using original Listerine mouthwash. Works great. Probably the alcohol in it, but it cleaned quickly and completely.

    Reply

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