Anyone who regularly uses a chalkboard knows how hard cleaning it is. What many don’t know is that a new chalkboard needs to be broken-in for use. There are also a few tricks and tips to cleaning a chalkboard, or blackboard as it is also known.
To break in a new board, take the side of a stick of chalk and completely cover the chalkboard with it. Next, take a regular felt eraser and work the chalkdust into the board’s surface. Repeat the two steps, and then wipe the board clean with a dry chamois or soft, lint-free cloth.
For cleaning, you might be tempted to clean the chalkboard with water or a wet cloth. Chalkboard manufacturers advise against this. The reason being, the water mixes with the chalk dust and makes a thin layer of shiny, slick haze which will make writing even harder (not to mention reading), especially over a long period of such washings. The water and chalk dust mixture actually gets absorbed into a slate chalkboard’s pores, turning it grey. It is best to stick to dry erasing.
For dealing with a buildup of chalkdust, wipe the board with a dry chamois or soft, lint-free cloth, after erasing the entire board with a dry felt eraser.
Wet cleaning can be resorted to for removing stubborn dirt, fingerprints, pencil and crayon marks, etc. However, after any cleaning with water, the board must be broken in again (see above). Also, never write on a chalkboard that isn’t completely dry; the chalk will bind to the board, making it hard to erase.
More Cleaning Tips
The proper motion for erasing a chalkboard is to begin in the top left hand corner of the board and work your way across in an up and down motion to the top right hand corner.
Regularly cleaning out your erasers will cut down on chalkdust and help the board stay clean longer.
Use white chalk, avoiding colored chalks which are harder to erase, due to the pigments they contain. Try to use only high-quality chalk that has 5% binder and 95% chalk, as lower quality chalk can scratch and permanently mark a board.
A special chalkboard cleaning cloth is made by a company called Braham Industries. I don’t know what material it is made out of, but it works amazingly well. It has some kind of chemical treatment in it that cleans the board much better than water. They don’t cost a lot, either; about 6 dollars each, and they last a whole year.
Photo by Orin Zebest, Creative Commons Attribution License