Chalkboards are everywhere, from framed memo boards to decorative furniture and home accessories to the entire wall in a living area or playroom. The color of the chalkboard can be traditional green or black, or a paint store can create just about any color you can imagine.
Chalkboards—whether they're practical or decorative—must be cleaned frequently so new grocery list items, appointments, or works of art can be added. You may even decide to change a decorative design and want to get the chalkboard finish immaculate before the next creative inspiration.
Unless your chalk creation has been permanently sealed, you can clean it easily. Learn how to clean away the art and writing from chalkboards and chalkboard walls for many more years of use.
How Often to Clean a Chalkboard
There's no hard and fast rule on how often to clean a chalkboard. However, weekly cleaning with water is too often and can damage the finish, especially if a chalkboard wall has only a very thin coat of paint.
However, it is usually easier to clean away fresh chalk than chalk that has been allowed to sit on the board for long periods. This is especially true in areas of the home where grease, cigarette smoke, or hairspray can settle on the board.
Equipment / Tools
- Chalkboard eraser
- Soft cotton cloths
- Distilled white vinegar
- Baking soda
Erase the Chalk
The first step in thoroughly cleaning a chalkboard wall or smaller chalkboard is to get rid of chalk marks or drawings. Use a chalkboard eraser or a soft cotton cloth. Start at one side and work your way across from the top down using long strokes. Do not work in circles because that will redeposit chalk on the surface.
Frequently clean the eraser or cloth or replace it with a clean one as you work. This is particularly important for boards that have an excessive amount of chalk on the surface.
Prepare a Cleaning Solution
Pour one gallon of warm water in a clean bucket. Add 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar. If you are using stronger cleaning vinegar, only add 1/4 cup.
Never use harsh cleaners on chalkboards: They can ruin the finish. If you use the same cleaning bucket for other chores around the house, be sure to rinse it well so that no residue is left to damage the surface of the chalkboard.
Wipe Down the Chalkboard
Dip a soft, cotton cloth in the water and vinegar solution and wring until just damp, not dripping. Start at top of the chalkboard and wipe down the board in long, smooth strokes. By starting at the top, you will catch any drips that may form. Rinse out the cloth frequently as you move across the wall or board.
Squeegee Away Excess Cleaning Solution
Use a window squeegee like the one from Libman to remove excess moisture. Starting at the top of the board, move sideways from one edge to the other in long horizontal strokes. At the opposite edge, use a soft, dry cloth to wipe the blade of the squeegee. Go back to the starting point and make another horizontal stoke just beneath the first one.
Repeat the steps until you have used the squeegee on the entire surface of the board. Use a dry cloth to capture any drips or excess moisture as you work.
Allow the Chalkboard to Air-Dry
Allow the chalkboard to air-dry thoroughly before it writing or drawing on it. Chalk marks added to a wet board are nearly impossible to remove.
Remove Tough Stains
If crayon marks or food stains appear on the chalkboard, they will need to be removed as soon as possible.
- To remove crayon marks, make a paste of baking soda and a few drops of water. Dip a sponge or soft cloth in the paste and gently scrub the section of the chalkboard with the marks. Keep moving to a clean area of the cloth as the crayon is transferred off the board. Finish by wiping the area with plain water and allow it to air dry well before using.
- Remove food splatters as quickly as possible with a clean, damp cloth. If the food left a grease spot, allow the damp board to dry. Cover the grease stain with a thick layer of chalk. Allow it to sit overnight and then erase it away. Repeat until the chalk has absorbed all of the oil.
Tips to Keep a Chalkboard Looking Its Best Longer
Season the Chalkboard
Seasoning a chalkboard with a coating of chalk will help prevent ghosting. The layer of chalk settles into the minute grooves and allows future chalk to erase more easily. This should be done before the board or wall is used for the first time and after every thorough cleaning.
Seasoning is particularly important if you plan to use chalk pens on the board. These are more permanent than chalk and will leave traces behind when cleaned away from an unseasoned chalkboard.
Be sure the board is completely dry before seasoning. If you created a wall with chalkboard paint, it is best to allow the paint to cure for up to one week before seasoning. Use the side of a piece of chalk to completely cover the board from side to side, top to bottom. Wipe away the chalk with an eraser or soft cloth.
Avoid Vigorous Scrubbing
Stay away from gritty or harsh cleaners that can damage the chalkboard surface.