How to Clean Whiteboards

Cleaning stained whiteboards is often an exercise in frustration. When you need to use a whiteboard, you need to use it now, and figuring out how to clean whiteboard surfaces can be time-consuming. Don’t worry – we can help.

We tested eight different cleaning solutions suggested by Google to find out which is the best for cleaning melamine-coated whiteboards and returning them to ‘like-new’ condition. Our winner: 90%+ isopropyl alcohol.


Best way to clean whiteboards with alcohol

It’s important to get 90% or higher isopropyl alcohol. Any lesser percentage and the alcohol might be too diluted to effectively clean your whiteboard. 90%+ isopropyl alcohol can be found at most stores in the health and beauty section. Note: using alcohol on your dry erase board should be done sparingly, as isopropyl alcohol can erode the coating of your whiteboard.

The best way to extend the lifespan of your melamine-coated whiteboard is through regular cleaning, so learn how to clean whiteboards to get the most for your money. This will maintain the bright whiteness of the dry erase board and keep ghosting and staining at bay.

For cleaning stubborn, longtime stains that are resistant to even the most rigorous scrubbing with vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, check out our helpful video.


How to clean dry erase board

Many whiteboard retailers recommend buying a specially-made whiteboard cleaning solution, like this one from Expo. These cleaning solutions can work if used soon after writing on your whiteboard. However, there are several scenarios where dry erase marker marks might stay on a whiteboard for an extended period – there might be an important diagram written in dry erase ink, or a busy office might take precedent over whiteboard cleaning.

Instances like these are when dry erase marker stains can happen, and even the best whiteboard cleaner might not be up to the task of erasing them. That’s when you’ll need to break out the serious stuff. Read on to learn how to erase a dry erase board. 

What You Will Need

✓ Dry paper towels or a soft sponge

✓ Damp paper towels or a damp cloth

✓ A cleaning agent (listed below)


What can I use to clean a whiteboard?

There are many whiteboard cleaners on the market, most of them from well-known whiteboard marker companies. These will work for fresh marks but won’t always clean stained whiteboards.

Sometimes even the best whiteboard cleaners can’t combat ghosting or other harsher marks. Thankfully, there are common household staples you can use to clean your whiteboard. Though be warned – some are much more effective than others! Let’s delve into what to use to clean white boards.


What to use to clean a whiteboard


We gathered the web’s most highly suggested whiteboard cleaning products and tested them ourselves. Read on to discover our findings – the best, the worst, and the middling.


Using coffee grounds to clean whiteboard

Pro Tip: Avoid corrosive substances

Some guides suggest using corrosive substances like coffee grounds or Comet to clean your whiteboards. We highly caution you against these substances, since they will scrub away the melamine coating of your whiteboard. It may temporarily look clean and very white but eroding the melamine surface will dramatically lessen the longevity of your whiteboards and make them more susceptible to staining.



Household Liquids

If you don’t have whiteboard cleaner, you can easily clean your whiteboard with things you probably have in your pantry or medicine cabinet. These three are juggernauts when it comes to cleaning melamine whiteboards.


How to clean whiteboards with alcohol

90%+ Isopropyl Alcohol

For persistent ghosting and other whiteboard stains, isopropyl alcohol will do the trick. It’s important to have 90% or higher, since the concentrated alcohol is what breaks down ink stains and leaves your whiteboard looking brand new. You can find 90% or higher isopropyl alcohol at most stores in the health and beauty departments. But remember: using alcohol of any kind on your whiteboard should be done sparingly and only in extreme cases. Repeated exposure to isopropyl alcohol can erode the coating on your whiteboard and render it useless.

How to clean your melamine whiteboard with isopropyl alcohol: Dab a small amount onto a soft cloth or paper towel and wipe away the marks. A little added pressure should erase even the most stubborn ghosting.


How to clean whiteboards with hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide has all manner of uses, everything from disinfecting toothbrushes to whitening your fingernails. It can also be used to clean every type of whiteboard – melamine, porcelain, and glass.

How to clean your melamine whiteboard with hydrogen peroxide: Dab a small amount onto a soft cloth or paper towel and wipe over the marks. For stubborn ghosting, you may need to add in a little elbow grease and some extra hydrogen peroxide.


How to clean whiteboards with white vinegar

White Vinegar

Vinegar is a versatile around-the-house cleaner, often used since it’s cheap, natural, and non-toxic. You can use vinegar to clean everything from carpets to appliances, and you can use it to clean whiteboards, too.

How to clean your melamine whiteboard with white vinegar: Dampen a paper towel or cloth with vinegar and wipe it over the marks on your dry erase board. If the stains persist, try scrubbing instead of wiping. You may still see faint ghosting where you’ve wiped. For these stubborn stains, we recommend using alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.



Household Staples

Some other alternatives to whiteboard cleaners are more things you can find around your home or office, though these don’t all work as well as isopropyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or even vinegar. Most will still be more effective on stubborn dry erase stains than standard dry erase board cleaner.


How to clean whiteboards with dish soap

Dish soap

Dish soap is a cleaning agent good for removing oil and other slippery substances, so it makes sense it’d be great for removing dry erase ink, too. The only thing to consider when using dish soap to clean a whiteboard is the residue it might leave behind, so have a damp cloth or paper towel on hand to wipe away the dish soap once it’s lifted the stains.

How to clean your melamine whiteboard with dish soap: Squeeze a small dot of soap onto a damp sponge, towel, or paper towel and wipe it over the dry erase marks. You may have to make a few passes, but the soap should lift the marker stain. Be sure to go over the spot with a clean damp towel or cloth to pick up the sudsy residue.


How to clean whiteboards with hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer has alcohol in it to combat germs, which makes this a diluted but valid alternative to 90% isopropyl alcohol. It’s likely you or a colleague have hand sanitizer at the office, so you won’t have to go grab any special ingredients to get your whiteboard back to mint condition.

How to clean your melamine whiteboard with hand sanitizer: Squeeze a small dot onto a paper towel or the whiteboard itself. Then, use a soft sponge, cloth, or paper towel to wipe the hand sanitizer over the marks until they’re gone.


How to clean whiteboards with WD40


Is there anything WD-40 can’t do? This household staple is surprisingly good for cleaning whiteboards, though it does leave a little bit of residue in its wake and the smell isn’t exactly an office favorite. But if it’s what you have on hand, it can do the trick.

How to clean your melamine whiteboard with WD-40: Angle the can away from your body and spray a small amount onto a paper towel or soft, dry cloth. Wipe the cloth or paper towel over the marks. You may need to apply some pressure if stubborn stains persist.



Household Health and Beauty

If you’re really in a pinch and want to eradicate marker ink or ghosting from your whiteboard, there are a few desperate solutions. You can find either of these around your home or workplace, though neither works as well as our previous suggestions.


How to clean whiteboards with toothpaste


It might seem like a stretch, but toothpaste works as a whiteboard cleaner. However, it also leaves a thick residue behind, so you’ll need something to follow it up.

How to clean your melamine whiteboard with toothpaste: Squeeze a small dab onto the surface and scrub it over the marks with a damp cloth, towel, or sponge. This should pick up the stains, though sometimes not even toothpaste can erase more stubborn ghosting. Once you’ve erased as much as you can, go over the toothpaste-scrubbed area with a clean, wet cloth and wipe away the residue.


How to clean whiteboards with hairspray


This one doesn’t work perfectly, but if it’s all you have, it’s better than nothing. Be aware that cleaning a whiteboard with hairspray will leave behind a sticky, gummy residue, but you can clean this away with water and a paper towel. This isn’t our recommended method since it can’t always combat the more stubborn instances of ghosting.

How to clean your melamine whiteboard with hairspray: Angle the can away from your body and spray a small amount onto a damp paper towel. Scrub it over the stains with a little added pressure for the most stubborn ones. Once you’ve erased as much as you can, go over the hairspray-sticky area with a clean, wet cloth and wipe away the residue.


Sometimes you have marks that aren’t so easily removed. When you’ve gotten permanent marker on your whiteboard, you’ll need something serious to combat it. Read on to learn how to remove permanent marker from whiteboards.



How to remove permanent marker from dry erase board

When it comes to permanent marker, knowing how to clean whiteboards isn’t as cut and dry. If permanent markers have marred your melamine whiteboard, you’ll need something stronger than regular dry eraser board cleaner. Thankfully, in most cases, even permanent marker doesn’t have to be so permanent. Here’s how to remove permanent marker from dry erase boards.

Here are our best methods for how to remove permanent marker from whiteboards.



Here is our definitive ranking of solutions for cleaning permanent marker off your whiteboard. 


Best way to clean permanent marker from whiteboard: alcohol

Best: 90%+ Isopropyl Alcohol

It only takes a few swipes to remove all permanent marker ink, even permanent ink that has had days (or weeks!) to dry.

Best way to clean permanent marker from whiteboard

Worst: Hydrogen Peroxide

Your permanent marker ink won’t budge.

Best way to clean permanent marker from whiteboard

Average: Hand sanitizer & dish soap

They will lift some of the ink but leave behind a stain.



Remove permanent marker from whiteboard with dry erase marker

Dry erase marker

One quick and simple way to remove permanent marker is by writing over it with dry erase marker. If the permanent marker marks haven’t been on the whiteboard too long, the dry erase marker should cling to the fresh ink and it will all wipe away.

How to clean permanent marker from your whiteboard using dry erase marker: Scribble dry erase marker ink over the stained area. Give the wet dry erase marker ink a moment to dry and pick up the permanent marker ink, before wiping it all away with a paper towel or cloth.


Remove permanent marker from whiteboard with alcohol

90%+ Isopropyl Alcohol

If the permanent marker ink has had time to set, a dry erase marker won’t be enough. Thankfully, isopropyl alcohol will be. Make sure you get isopropyl alcohol of a 90% concentration or higher, or else your results may be less satisfactory.

How to clean permanent marker from your melamine whiteboard using isopropyl alcohol: Dab some onto a paper towel or cloth and scrub the affected area. It may take a bit of rubbing, but the alcohol should break down the stained ink and leave your dry erase board white and like-new.


Removing Stubborn Residue from Whiteboards

If you leave post-it notes, tape, or stickers on a whiteboard too long, removing them can leave behind a stubborn, gummy residue. Goo-Gone is a specialized and effective solution but if you don’t have any on hand, non-stick cooking spray like Pam or other household cooking oils will remove the sticky residue.



 So who wins out as best in show for cleaning stubborn stains off of melamine whiteboards?


Best way to clean whiteboard: alcohol


90%+ Isopropyl Alcohol.

The concentrated isopropyl alcohol is the best cleaner for melamine whiteboards. It can combat fresh dry erase marker marks, stubborn ghosting, and even dried permanent marker. If you have one or more whiteboards in your home or office, keep a container of this on hand for any whiteboard-cleaning issues that may arise. Using 90%+ isopropyl alcohol is the best way to clean dry erase boards. 



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 For more information on whiteboards and other office-related resources, check out our blog. If you have any questions or just want to talk shop, shoot us an email! Larry is always happy to help.


Grace Treutel is Blue Summit Supplies' Director of Culture. Currently she’s in training to become a Marriage & Family Therapist though her greatest love will always be the written word. Her three novel manuscripts have not yet been published - but just you wait. She lives in Huntsville with her  cute kids and cute pets.

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