How to Clean Dirty Erasers: Supply Surgery

If you have taught art for more than a week—to just about to any age group—you have experienced the dirty eraser. Well, what do you do when a few 4th graders lose track of their senses and use a white eraser on chalk pastel turning it into something that looks like a Smurf spit it out? Reality is, accidents happen and when you only see your kiddos every six days they are apt to forget a maxim from Mr. Phillips’ class: white erasers for pencil, black erasers for pastel. Such is life in the art room.

Cleaning Your Erasers: How It’s Done


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So, how’s it done? In truth there are a couple of ways; however, my favorite is to use what is at hand: a flat surface and some friction. When I worked at the high school, I had solid maple tables and this technique worked fine there. That said, I have found that a laminate top works better for some reason. Go figure. (Do NOT perform this on any kind of fine wood tables, like in your dining room!)

I start with the broad, flat side of the eraser and rub it back and forth vigorously across my table. Almost immediately you will see shavings from the eraser appearing on the table. If you don’t, you are not putting enough muscle into it. Continue rubbing it back and forth 10-15 times and then check the surface of the eraser. You should see a white eraser, no discoloration at all. Turn the eraser on its side and repeat the procedure. Once you get the hang of it, you should be able to rotate from side to side and clean your whole eraser in two minutes or less.

What I Use and When


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Last year, I bought Faber-Castell erasers in a 100-piece tub from eNasco. When you price them out individually they are roughly 40¢ a piece, but I love them and will not be going back to my previous eraser brand. Latex and PVC-free, these erasers work really well on both graphite and colored pencil. I still have a lot of them left and will not need to purchase erasers again next year. A great investment!


2 responses to “How to Clean Dirty Erasers: Supply Surgery

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