How to Clean a Chalkboard Efficiently

Who doesn’t hate having a dirty chalk mark leftover on a chalkboard? Or worse: irritating fingerprints?

Whether you use a chalkboard at home, or for commercial use, chalk marks can get infuriating. Doesn’t matter if the chalkboard is in your café, or your school, chalk marks will ruin the aesthetic of the board.

Even if it’s only to entertain your kids or just to write your weekly shopping list or for work.

So how do you make sure all chalk and dirt are wiped off your chalkboard?

We have compiled a series of methods to help you fix this annoying problem.

Method 1: Use a chalkboard eraser

This is the most common method to wipe a chalkboard, and often the preferred method in classrooms. Just swipe the clean eraser through the board to remove chalk, and remember to clean the dust off after every use, in order not to dirty the chalkboard even more.

To clean the eraser, you just have to vacuum the dust or use a wipe after each use.

It is also a cheap cleaning method, as erasers are often cheap and you can buy them in multipacks.

Method 2: Use a microfiber cloth

You can use a dry lint-free microfiber cloth to wipe the dust off your board. Once you’re done cleaning, pop it into your washing machine, with other microfiber cloths. Don’t put it in the dryer afterward, as it can attract more dust.

Air-dry it, and make sure there isn’t any water left inside when you next wipe your chalkboard.

In general, be careful with water whilst using a chalkboard. Don’t add any water to the board or microfiber cloth, as it can damage your chalkboard’s surface over time. Plus, it will make it appear dirtier than it is.

Method 3: Use cleaning products

Yes, water can be damaging. But if you need a deep clean, sometimes you need to use cleaning products. This leaves your chalkboard shiny black and smudge-free.

Nobody wants fingerprints or chalk marks obscuring what’s on your board.

So here are a few products you can use:

Cloths specifically designed for chalkboards

instead of using a microfibre cloth, use this. Otherwise, microfibre cloths can leave dust marks if you’re not careful.

No need to use water with these clothes and they are very easy and fast to use.
You only need to replace the cloth about once a year, depending on how much
you use them.

Plus, it is also cheap since you can cut this large cloth into several pieces.

Chalkboard spray cleaner

If dust is not your problem, but fingerprints and chalk marks are, use this specific spray cleaner. Just use a small amount and spray it over the needed surface, and then wipe it off with a cloth.

If you worry about using chemical products for your health and the environment, there are also plenty of natural ingredients-based chalkboard spray cleaners you can find.

Squeegee

if you have a larger board, such as those in classrooms, a squeegee dipped in water, after dusting with a cloth, will do the job! But you shouldn’t use it too regularly because of the water damage.

Chalkboard magic erasers

If you just need to erase a specific spot, a magic eraser will remove marks and scuffs. It removes both regular chalk and chalk pens ink, even when dry.

Method 4: Use homemade cleaning products or household products

If you prefer a natural cleaning solution, then consider making your own chalkboard cleaning products. You can use cheap ingredients you can find at home.

Here are a few household items that can help you achieve the shiny look of your dreams:

Lemon oil

Lemon oil is quite easy to find, you can usually get it in a natural store, or order it online. Some local supermarkets even carry it.

The oil smells nice and gives your board a crisp fresh scent, as well as making it shiny black instead of dull grey. Just add a few drops to your cloth or water, and then use your cloth or squeegee to wipe your chalkboard.

And there you go: a naturally shiny chalkboard! Be careful not to use essential oils around animals, or if you are breastfeeding or pregnant. Otherwise, they are totally safe, if used in moderation. Consult your local doctor if you have any fears.

Vinegar and water

White wine vinegar is always your friend whilst cleaning. It’s cheap and makes everything shine. Vinegar won’t let you down here either.

Just add a few drops of vinegar to your water solution, and then wet a cloth and rub your board. Ideally, mix 4 cups of tepid or warm water with half a cup of distilled wine vinegar.
The calcium present in the chalk creates a reaction with the vinegar, leaving a clean and shiny board.

Coca-Cola

That’s right, coke cleans chalkboards! It may sound crazy but it works wonders. Fine, it’s not homemade, but you surely have it in your pantry or you can buy it easily in your supermarket.

You could also use Pepsi if you want a cheaper alternative.

First, remove all chalk with a cloth or eraser. Then, soak a sponge in the cola, remove the excess and wipe the board, rinsing it in between strokes. Just wipe your board with a damp microfibre cloth once you’re done.

It works even better if you use diet coke, as it’s less sticky than regular coke. It’s hard to believe, but Coca-Cola is really handy whilst cleaning a chalkboard!

Water and dish soap

If you are afraid of making your board sticky with coke, just use dish soap. You can either make it yourself or just use the one you have at home: anything will do.
Just add a few pumps to a bucket of warm water. Dip a cloth or sponge and wipe it across your board. Rinse it with water and let it air dry.

Window cleaner product

If you prefer to write in liquid chalk, you will need to remove it with a window cleaner, such as Windex.

Spray the product, let it sit, and then wipe it off with a microfibre cloth. You might have to repeat these steps twice, to ensure there are no liquid chalk traces left.

Additional cleaning tips

Now that you know everything about cleaning fingerprints, scruffs, and chalk marks, here are some extra tips to ensure a clean board:

  • Don’t ever write on a wet chalkboard. Otherwise, the chalk will stick to the chalkboard and will be almost impossible to remove.
  • For stubborn stains, use water and a non-oil-based cleaner, which is also non-abrasive. This will remove chalk marks, ink, crayon, and pencil.
  • Select your cleaning products carefully, as many chemicals in them will damage the board. This happens if used too often, despite appearing to clean the board. Select non-abrasive cleaning products when in doubt.
  • Clean your chalkboard often with a cloth, otherwise, dust and chalk will build upon the surface, making it harder to clean.
  • Regular chalk is easier to clean than liquid chalk markers, although these are more aesthetical for writing or drawing. So think about what you prefer and if it’s worth using window cleaner every time to remove your liquid chalk traces, or if you don’t mind.
  • Write on a small surface and check which cleaning method works best for you, your board, and ink/chalk type!
  • Avoid using water if you can, to avoid ghosting (see below definition). Only wash when absolutely necessary, and don’t do it daily!
  • If you have to use water, use warm or tepid water, but always select a cloth or natural homemade products, when possible.

Extra information Q&A

What is ghosting?

Ghosting is when an outline of chalk is left even after cleaning. It happens if you use water to clean your board, and layers of ghosting, which develop over time, will make the board harder to read.

Why do you need to know if your chalkboard is porous or non-porous?

Chalk or liquid chalk markers work better on a non-porous surface, which is a smooth surface. Writing or drawing on a porous surface can produce ghosting. Examples of a non-porous surface include glass, chalkboard, porcelain chalkboard, and more.

So is every chalkboard non-porous? If so, why do I have ghosting?

Here are some examples of porous surfaces: concrete, wood, paper, fabric, chalkboard painted board, and some walls.
So if you write on a painted wall or board, ghosting will more likely appear and it’s natural. Sure, having a painted wall where you can write or draw on is #goals, either for your home or your business.
But be aware it will be harder to clean, and you will need to clean your chalkboard more regularly.

Is there more than one type of chalkboard and why does it matter?

Yes, there are four most common types, and it matters because of the porosity of the chalkboard. Ask your seller which you are buying, and which would best suit your needs and cleaning schedule. Here are the four different types:

Plastic/Acrylic chalkboards: this kind of board is cheap and of good quality, but some ghosting can occur.

MDF wood coated with chalkboard paint: that’s the most common and the cheapest. MDF stands for Medium-Density Fibreboard, a board created by pressing wood particles together. So it’s environmentally friendly!
Be careful not to use liquid chalk on them, just regular chalk, otherwise, it’s almost impossible to remove ghosting.

Porcelain sheet chalkboards: these are practically guaranteed not to ghost. They are high quality and great for home or commercial use.

Slate chalkboards: this is a non-porous surface, which isn’t smooth, to create a charmingly rustic and vintage look. These shouldn’t ghost because of the quality of the surface.

Final thoughts

We hope this comprehensive guide helped you with how to clean your chalkboard efficiently. Hopefully, it informed you a bit more about how a specific type of board, surface, and chalk can make a difference when cleaning.

Doesn’t matter if you’re cleaning ghosting marks, scruffs, or fingerprints. Now, you know what to do!

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