How to restore a white board

Updated February 21, 2017

Whiteboards are smooth, glossy white surfaces that people can write or draw on repeatedly with markers made of non-permanent, erasable black or coloured ink formulated specifically for whiteboards. Over time, a whiteboard's surface dulls or stains from the accumulation of ink particles and smears -- usually the result of insufficient or improper cleaning. Additionally, stains can occur from using permanent inks that stick to whiteboard surfaces or pre-existing ink build-up. It is necessary to restore a dirty whiteboard at least once a month to stop further ink accumulation as the build-up can make it difficult to erase whiteboard-formulated inks resulting in additional staining.

Rub a clean, dry-erase eraser over your entire board once to dislodge and remove loose non-permanent, dry-erase marker ink particles.

Write over top any marks that won't erase with a dry-erase marker to see if the liquid marker as it dries will break up marks on the board. Wait at least 10 seconds for the ink to dry and then rub the board again with a clean eraser.

Pour rubbing alcohol or whiteboard-formulated cleaner on a lint-free microfibre cloth and wipe the entire board to remove any remaining ink marring the board. To remove tough stains, wipe away the rubbing alcohol or whiteboard cleaner residues from the board with a damp cloth and then blot acetone-based nail polish remover or whiteboard stain remover onto the stains with a microfiber cloth until the ink transfers from the board to the cloth.

Wipe a damp cloth over the board to remove any remaining residues. Dry and buff the surface thoroughly with additional soft, microfibre cloths.


To prevent dry-erase marker ink smears, check with the manufacturer of your whiteboard to confirm that you're using the correct formulation of whiteboard dry-erase ink for your whiteboard surface as whiteboard manufacturers use different whiteboard finishes that require different erasable inks. In addition, always wait at least 10 seconds for the ink to dry before erasing as wet erasable ink can cause smears. Clean your whiteboard after each use, at least daily with regular use, or two to three times a week with infrequent use, to prevent ink accumulation.


Always wear a mask and gloves when cleaning with rubbing alcohol, acetone-based nail polish or whiteboard stain remover and clean your board in a well-ventilated room to prevent exposure to toxic fumes or dangerous chemicals. Never use harsh abrasives or chemicals to restore your whiteboard as some cleaners and cleaning tools can scratch, crack, pit, stain and even melt different whiteboard surface finishes. Dirty dry-erase erasers can stain whiteboards.

Things You'll Need

  • Dry-erase erasers
  • Dry-erase markers
  • Lint-free microfibre cloths
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Whiteboard-formulated cleaner
  • Water
  • Acetone-based nail polish remover (optional)
  • Whiteboard-formulated stain remover (optional)
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About the Author

Based in Southern Pennsylvania, Irene A. Blake has been writing on a wide range of topics for over a decade. Her work has appeared in projects by The National Network for Artist Placement, the-phone-book Limited and GateHouse Media. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Shippensburg University.