I just started work as a lab assistant in a chem lab. The whiteboard the instructor uses for classes gets very dirty very quickly. The woman who started at the same time as I did spent over 3 hours scrubbing it with a solution of a powdered soap-like product in a milk-carton style container to get it anything like clean.

I'd rather not watch her do that again (or, worse, do it myself). Can I make a better cleaning agent without using too much of an expensive chemical?

So far I've seen large quantities of Ethanol, Acetone, Alcohol, and milliQ water. What else we may have, you folks would probably know better than I.

  • $\begingroup$ I found methanol-water mixture to be effective, not critical but about 50-50. $\endgroup$
    – porphyrin
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 8:12

2 Answers 2


Scrubbing the surface with an abrasive (powder) only makes it worse -- micro-scratches will accumulate pigments and dirt and overall promote further surface degradation. I would try the solvents (test on a small area first) in the following order: isopropanol, ethanol, acetone. Usually even cleaning wipes for glasses or computer screens do just fine.

I also have a suspicion that this particular whiteboard might need special erasable markers. So, I'd get rid of standard permanent markers in the vicinity, and probably get in touch with a person who makes lab purchases.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "I also have a suspicion that this particular whiteboard might need special erasable markers." +1, but all this time I was under the impression that whiteboards are compatible with all (non-permanent) markers 8D $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 7:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @paracetamol Well, yeah, they should be, but it vastly depends on the surface and how it's been treated. There is still some adhesion happening with plastic surfaces, and I doubt we are talking about the glass whiteboard here;) $\endgroup$
    – andselisk
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 7:15

Andselisk's recommendations are great, but you'll save yourself a lot of trouble if you just throw all the erasers out. They get crud on them quickly and after a while, they put more back on the board than they wipe off.

A microfiber cloth is much more effective, and works for a shockingly long time. I would bet on a filthy cloth over a brand new eraser, and unlike erasers, they can be thrown in the wash. You can get them specifically for whiteboards or just stop by an auto parts store.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.