Edit Article

How to Erase Old Marks off a Dry Erase Board

Eight Methods:90% + isopropyl (rubbing alcohol)Dry cleaner fluidMarker or artist's eraserKitchen cupboard remediesPersonal care productsCommercial cleanersGarage productsDealing with really tough marksCommunity Q&A

Have you ever noticed that if a message or drawing is left on a whiteboard too long, it becomes permanent? While getting those stains off isn't as easy as swiping a paper towel, there is a simple way to make your white board white again... Solutions have been listed in order of greatest likelihood for success. Note that there are three types of eraser boards: Everwhite, Melamine, and Porcelain. The primary difference is that one uses dry abrasion for erasure while the other requires a liquid such as alcohol. The following solutions are suggested for use with the type of board requiring a dry erase marker, not liquid.


  1. 1
    Keep in mind that liquids clean wet erase boards while abrasives clean dry erase boards. If you try any of the suggested methods below, first test the method on a small part of the white board before placing the substance on the entire board. This will allow you to see the effect before approaching all of the dry erase board.

Method 1
90% + isopropyl (rubbing alcohol)

  1. 1
    Use the correct rubbing alcohol for this to work. You must use 99% or 90% isopropyl (rubbing alcohol). The more common 70% does not work anywhere as well. It is well worth hunting for the stronger stuff. But the 70% will work if it's all you have.
  2. 2
    Wipe the board and tray clean and free of marker dust with an eraser, followed by a soft dry cloth or a vacuum.
  3. 3
    Using a sponge or a soft cloth thoroughly wetted with alcohol, wipe a small section with the sponge and while still wet wipe with a clean dry cloth. Rinse the sponge in warm water and wring dry. Repeat process until the entire board is done.
  4. 4
    Repeat the above using a cloth thoroughly soaked with the alcohol followed by a dry cloth. (This gets the last of any remaining marker. If any stains remain use a Magic Eraser and alcohol.
  5. 5
    If there are pieces of tape stuck to the board, use a little mineral spirits and a cloth to remove and follow with an alcohol wipe. If there are any scratches in the board surface, not much can be done but you can try mineral spirits followed by alcohol to get most of the residue out.
  6. 6
    Lightly spray the surface of the board with Turtle Wax "Express Spray Shine." (This is one of the synthetic "spray and wipe" types of waxes--other similar brands should work too.) You can put several applications over any scratches to help them clean easier.
  7. 7
    Buff with a soft dry cloth, wait a minute or two and buff again with another clean dry cloth, now your whiteboards should look and work like a brand new board!

Method 2
Dry cleaner fluid

  1. 1
    Try to avoid using any abrasive, since the surface will become microscopically rough and retain that ghost look next time after erasing and become harder to clean next time. Clean it with chemical similar to dry-cleaning fluid (such as hairspray or carpet spot remover), then condition the board for next time by rubbing a thin film of mineral oil (baby oil) over the surface.
  2. 2
    Use "Spot Shot" spray cleaner and a "Mr. Clean Eraser" sponge. Together they will not only take the ghost marker off, but any permanent marker accidentally used. Let the "Spot Shot" soak a while first.

Method 3
Marker or artist's eraser

  1. 1
    Get a dry erase marker (yes, you make marks to take marks away) and a dry eraser. The darker the color of marker you use, the easier the marks will disappear!
    • Draw over what you want to erase (make sure you draw slowly to fill it in better).This takes a few times in each spot and so it takes a while and wears out markers.
    • Erase what you've written over as you normally would. Surprise! It erases. This is also a great method when you've accidentally used permanent marker instead of dry erase!
  2. 2
    Use an artist's eraser on your board. Just make sure you don't rub so hard the finish comes off. This works very effectively.

Method 4
Kitchen cupboard remedies

  1. 1
    Use vinegar and water. This is the undisputed champion for removing old dry erase marker.
  2. 2
    Use baking soda and a small amount of water added. This works well on marks from permanent marker.
  3. 3
    Use coffee. Rub the grinds on the board. The permanent marker comes right off.
  4. 4
    Hunt around the house. Many items can clean a whiteboard. Find such items as lighter fuel, aerosol hairspray, soft scrub, coffee, sunscreen, WD40, Bon Ami powder, brass polish, diet soda, shampoo, or Simple Green on a paper towel. Use the chosen item to wipe the whiteboard.
  5. 5
    Use old dryer sheets on older formulations of dry erase markers. The rough surface and the softener left in the sheet are what's responsible for removing the marks. New dryer sheets will not work.
  6. 6
    Use peroxide. Peroxide easily cleans clogged ink jet heads, which use a similarly permanent ink. It does a fair job of removing dry erase marker.
  7. 7
    Try Oxy Clean or any of the generic brands of this cleaner. These work almost as well as peroxide. This powder should be made into a paste and then rubbed in a circular motion using a soft cloth. Rinse the residue away with water.
  8. 8
    Use ammonia. Ammonia does a great job when used on the correct type of dry erase ink. It does not work on the dry erase board, but rather on the type that uses liquid for erasure. Use extreme caution with this chemical, which can irritate the lungs or other mucous membranes.
  9. 9
    Use margarine. Smear on margarine. Massage the margarine into the stain and you will notice that the margarine will slowly change to the color of the stain; indicating that it is starting to work. Massage the margarine, walk away, repeat. Wipe the margarine away with paper towel. Try your board with a dry marker. If it wipes clean; you are good to go.
    • If the stain is years old, put some plastic wrap over it and wait 24 hours.

Method 5
Personal care products

  1. 1
    Use toothpaste. The toothpaste method appears to be the leading alternative way for removing dry erase marker. Use ordinary white toothpaste. It contains a very mild abrasive and is water soluble. Plus, it will leave your whiteboard minty fresh! This method will also remove permanent marker marks from most smooth, non-porous surfaces. Any brand will do.
  2. 2
    Use baby wipes. Regular baby wipes work well to clean marks off liquid erase white boards, not dry erase.
  3. 3
    Use deodorant. Deodorant works well. Just spray a bit on the desired spot, then wipe off with a tissue.
  4. 4
    Use hand sanitizer. Any cheap brand of hand sanitizer (Purell, Germ X, etc) works great on any dry erase surface.
  5. 5
    Spray a film of hairspray, let it soak in for a couple of minutes, then clean off with a good paper towel or cotton rag. You can use just plain soap and water to clean any stickiness left over, or better yet use a shampoo & conditioner combo with water to clean the hairspray off and lubricate the board for next time.
  6. 6
    Use muscle cream, such as Ben-Gay. This is similar to the toothpaste method, and removes permanent marker stains with only a few medium pressure wipes. Its less abrasive than toothpaste, and the alcohol acts as a better cleaning agent.
  7. 7
    Use neutral shoe polish. Apply neutral (no color) shoe polish to clean, and buff with a clean cloth. It works wonderfully and provides a smooth like-new surface.
  8. 8
    Use acetone (nail polish remover). Place acetone (a generous amount) on a paper shop towel. Wipe about a 6 square feet area. Add another generous amount of acetone (plenty) on a new paper shop towel, wipe the same 6 square feet area again. While still wet, dry the 6 square feet area with a dry paper shop towel.
    • Acetone is combustible. Dispose of the paper shop towels responsibly.
  9. 9
    Try shaving cream. Spray it on and ensure a light coat on all marks you want to erase. Then wait a minute. Wipe off with a paper towel - vigorous little circles ought to do it!

Method 6
Commercial cleaners

  1. 1
    Use lava soap with a damp cotton swab or washcloth. This works almost as well as toothpaste but requires a second cleaning for total erasure.
  2. 2
    Use Cameo kitchen cleanser /Bar-keeper's friend. Cameo, a gentle powdered cleanser intended for use on stainless steel sinks, contains a very fine abrasive, which will not mark or score surfaces. Bar-keeper's Friend is a similar non-abrasive cleansing powder product. This may work for you if other methods aren't successful.
  3. 3
    Use orange goop. A close runner up to lava soap and Cameo is Orange Goop, the hand cleaner sold at automotive stores around the country. Orange Goop contains a mild abrasive and should be used with care. Do a spot test first to make sure you don't remove the shine.
  4. 4
    Use Windex. Spray on, wipe off. Wipe with a paper towel or old newspaper.
  5. 5
    Use Comet with bleach soft cleanser cream. This is a counter top, kitchen sink, tub and tile cleaner.
    • It works perfectly on any dry erase board; it will turn out to look and even feel perfectly new.
  6. 6
    Consider using Murphy Pure Vegetable Oil Soap (wood floor cleaner). While it usually cleans finished wood, laminates, non-waxed floors and tiles, since it contains no oils, ammonia or bleach, using it on whiteboards also works a charm. Simply put a little on paper, rub a light coat over the marks you wish to erase and wait a minute. Then wipe off the marks with a new paper towel.

Method 7
Garage products

  1. 1
    Spray and wipe with WD-40. The lubricant will condition the board for future use.
  2. 2
    Use ordinary car wax. Simply use the applicator in circular motions and wipe off with a clean cloth. This will remove very stubborn stains and leaves your white board like it was the day you bought it!

Method 8
Dealing with really tough marks

If none of the suggested methods above have proven useful, try some of these approaches for the remaining stain.

  1. 1
    Put some rubbing alcohol on a paper towel or spray some deodorant spray on the board and rub vigorously for a couple of seconds, then wipe dry. (Commercial Dry-Erase cleaners are often just formulations that contain rubbing alcohol.) If the stains remain, then...
  2. 2
    Lay the board flat on a table and put a few drops of the rubbing alcohol onto the board, rubbing it around with your finger. (Use enough alcohol to leave a thin layer.) Allow it to soak for a few seconds, then wipe dry. And if all else fails, try the next step.
  3. 3
    Use "Mr. Clean Magic Eraser" or a white board cleaner on the marks and rub vigorously to get the stains off.
  4. 4
    If that still doesn't work, try toothpaste. It's been reported to work when 70% alcohol solutions have not.
  5. 5
    Another mild abrasive that may work when nothing else will is glass-ceramic cook top cleaner such as Cerama Bryte.

Community Q&A

Add New Question
Ask a Question
If this question (or a similar one) is answered twice in this section, please click here to let us know.


  • Baking soda and alcohol mixed together well can also work to rub off old marks.
  • Do not use too much pressure and strength when wiping off.
  • When using a towel to wipe, fold and make a corner. Then wipe with the corner for more precision.
  • Use rough material to wipe off old marks.
  • If you have old marks that wouldn't erase, use nail polish remover.


  • Don't try using hand sanitizing wipes to clean the board. They can eat the enamel off the surface of the board.
  • Don't scratch it with a coin as this can damage the board permanently.
  • Never mix household cleansers, as they may produce toxic fumes or cause other dangerous reactions.
  • Don't try multiple cleaners like Windex, Comet, coffee pot cleaner, etc., as they can set the stain.
  • Use caution when trying nail polish remover or acetone, because it may ruin the surface of your board.
  • Make sure there are no possible ignition sources (electric on/off switches, toaster, smoking, etc.) around if using flammable cleaners.
  • Use caution with Ammonia since this chemical is extremely irritating to the sinuses. Ammonia when mixed with other chemicals emits toxic fumes.
  • When using the "Artist's Eraser" suggestion above, do not use a kneaded eraser, as this just coats the board with a sticky substance that is harder to get off than the original marker.

Things You'll Need

  • Dry erase board with old marks
  • Dry erase marker
  • Dry erase eraser
  • Cotton cosmetic rounds or cotton swabs
  • Rubber glove
  • Cleaning agent of your choice

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Pen Ink and Marker Stains

In other languages:

Español: borrar viejas marcas en un pizarrón de borrado en seco, Italiano: Cancellare le Macchie Vecchie da una Lavagna Cancellabile a Secco, Português: Tirar Manchas de um Quadro Branco Seco, Русский: убрать старые следы с доски для маркера, Français: effacer les marques sur un tableau blanc effaçable à sec, 中文: 擦掉干擦白板上的旧痕迹, Bahasa Indonesia: Cara Menghapus Noda Lama pada Papan Tulis, Deutsch: Rückstände von einem Whiteboard entfernen, Nederlands: Oude inktresten van een whiteboard verwijderen

Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 1,677,867 times.

Did this article help you?