The Best Way to Care for Your Whiteboards


Damn, that's a clean whiteboard.

Damn, that’s a clean whiteboard.

When it comes to communicating with colleagues, illustrating concepts to students or jotting down notes and reminders, whiteboards are one of the most effective means available. Quick and easy to use, and easily erased to allow for flexibility and multiple uses, whiteboards have almost entirely replaced traditional blackboards.

However, as anyone who has worked in a whiteboard environment will tell you, when the boards are not properly cleaned and maintained, they are unsightly and difficult to use. The “ghosts” of notes past may appear on the board and dust particles from the erased markings collect at the base. When that happens, using a whiteboard becomes frustrating — or more difficult than necessary. To avoid reducing the effectiveness of your whiteboards, it’s important to employ proper maintenance procedures.

Use the ‘Write’ Stuff

The first step in keeping a whiteboard looking pristine is to use the right tools. Use only dry-erase markers designed for whiteboards; anything else — permanent markers, pens, pencils or crayons — can damage the board and make irremovable marks. Using ball point pens or pencils can even scratch the surface of the board.

Clean Up After Yourself

If you want to avoid ghosting — the appearance of what you’ve written even after it’s been erased — take time to clean the board after each use. The longer marks remain on the board, the greater the chance solvents will seep into the surface; when that happens, the markings become permanent.

To clean the surface, use a soft, damp cloth or a clean eraser. Be sure to get all of the marks and wipe up the dust particles that collect from the dried marker. You can use a solvent designed for whiteboards to remove all of the markings or for an environmentally friendly option, mix one part white vinegar to three parts water in a spray bottle. Avoid saturating the board with any cleaning solution, though, as too much water will damage and warp the board over time.

Fixing Old Mistakes

So you forgot to clean the board after last month’s meeting or maybe you accidentally used a permanent marker instead of a dry-erase marker. With some special attention, you may be able to clean off the marks. Using a black dry-erase marker, write over the offending marks, then clean the board as usual. In most cases, the solvents in the dry-erase markers will remove the ghosting or permanent marker. If the marks don’t come off, try using rubbing alcohol on the spot and rubbing with a soft cloth.

Beyond Writing

In some cases, it’s necessary to hang items on the whiteboard; for example, posting a notice or adding a printed diagram or illustration. If you think you will need to hang items on a regular basis, purchase a magnetized board to avoid damaging the surface with tape or other adhesives. If you do use an adhesive, and it leaves residue, remove it carefully to avoid scratching the surface. Use the edge of a credit card or a similarly non-abrasive tool to gently scrape off the adhesive, and then an alcohol-based solvent to remove any remaining residue.

Maximizing Whiteboard Mileage

With volume pricing on whiteboards, you can save money while still buying quality whiteboards that will stand up to even the most prolific of note-takers.

Although some purists still prefer to use chalk and blackboards, whiteboards have become the standard in businesses and schools. Installing the boards is an investment, so take the time to properly care for the board and reap the benefits for years to come.

John Small

Written by John Small

John Small is the maintenance supervisor for a small manufacturing facility. He firmly believes that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Caring for the surface of the boards you purchase from will ensure that you can use them for many years.

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One Response to “The Best Way to Care for Your Whiteboards”
  1. This certainly answered my dilemma, thank you!

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