What is Whiteboard Ghosting and How To Fix it?

Wiped clean, yet somehow still there? Whiteboard ghosting can be a headache. Unintelligible old marker scribbles (a.k.a. ghost lines) from past meetings or lessons can clutter your whiteboard, making new text tough to decipher.

While regular dry erase boards commonly suffer from ghosting, low-quality ones are particularly susceptible. This issue arises from several underlying causes.

Be with us as we unveil the science behind whiteboard ghosting and equip you with the knowledge to fix it.

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What does ghosting mean on a whiteboard?

When the ink from your dry erase marker bleeds into the whiteboard surface and leaves marks or stains even after wiping it off — it’s called whiteboard ghosting. These ghost lines can be difficult to get rid of. Your regular eraser or even a microfibre cloth might not help.

Rubbing alcohol, acetone, and industrial-grade ink erasers are often used to remove ghost lines completely. But, they are not recommended. These harsh chemicals make the whiteboard surface prone to wear and tear. Plus, over time, with repeated cleaning, the whiteboard surface becomes more porous. This makes regular erasers less effective and whiteboards more susceptible to ghosting.

Also, these are only temporary solutions, and you can’t use them regularly for the total lifespan of your whiteboard.

So, what’s the cause of whiteboard ghosting? Let’s decode.

Decoding whiteboard ghosting: the causes

Whiteboard ghosting can occur for several reasons. Multiple factors, as discussed below, frequently play a role.

Using low-quality, cheap whiteboards

Low-quality whiteboards often have a porous melamine or porcelain coating on the surface. Marker ink is easily trapped in these pores as you write on them, making it difficult to erase the ink completely once you’re done.

When you write or erase with pressure, it pushes the ink molecules even deeper into the pores. Friction from erasing increases ink penetration further. As a result, the ink is never erased completely and your fresh work on the whiteboard looks messy due to the ghost lines.

Repeated heavy use of whiteboards

If you’re going overboard with the whiteboard use, you might just end up with a surface filled with faint lines that refuse to be erased. As you write on a regular whiteboard with a dry-erase marker, some tiny ink particles remain on the surface even after erasing.

They might not be even visible at first, but frequent writing and erasing will lead to residue buildup. And, over time, these residues may become visible in the form of ghost lines or stains.

Leaving marks on a whiteboard for extended periods

Dry-erase marker ink typically contains pigment and an oily silicone polymer in an alcohol-based solvent. The polymer keeps the pigment from sticking to the whiteboard surface. But, if the ink stays on the board for too long, the solvent can react with the surface material. This will result in deeper pigment penetration that’s difficult to remove.

Also, the silicone polymer loses effectiveness if it gets too dry. As a result, over-dried ink that’s been left on the board for hours won’t erase well, causing dry erase board ghosting. Also, the quality of the marker matters. Low-quality markers use harsher solvents with less silicone polymer, and hence, are more prone to cause ghosting.

Erasing while the ink is still wet

If you try to erase the whiteboard right after writing on it, the ink doesn’t get enough time to dry out. The liquid solvent triggers deeper penetration of the ink due to the friction from erasing. Also, the liquid ink is smeared over a wider area when trying to erase.

These two factors together may lead to whiteboard ghosting when erasing ink that’s still wet. Whiteboards are dry-erase boards, meaning you should erase them only when the ink is dry.

Using wrong marker type

Dry-erase boards are designed to be used with dry-erase markers only. If you use permanent markers, it won’t erase easily and will cause ghosting. Even low-quality dry-erase markers can be the culprit.

An oily silicone polymer present in the dry-erase ink prevents it from sticking to the whiteboard surface. But, cheap dry-erase markers contain less or low-quality polymers. So the ink sticks more to the whiteboard and isn’t removed completely when erased. Also, cheap markers often use harsher solvents that might trigger ghosting.

Using a dirty eraser

Often overlooked but an important factor to take into account to eliminate whiteboard ghosting. If your eraser is not clean enough or is of poor quality, instead of removing the ink it might just smudge and push the pigment deeper into the surface. This will lead to ink residue buildup over time and subsequently, ghosting.

How do you fix ghosting on a whiteboard?

Now that you know why your whiteboard is ghosting, here are some tips to help you fix it.

  • Use a premium quality dry-erase whiteboard with only high-quality dry erase markers, and clean, apt erasers.
  • Wipe off the whiteboard surface properly after every use. If needed, use a specialized cleaner as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Wait at least 4 to 5 seconds before trying to erase any marking you have just made on the whiteboard.
  • Do not leave any markings on the whiteboard for longer than recommended.

However, if you are thinking about a non ghosting whiteboard that’s easier to keep clean, our whiteboard paint and wallpapers are just the solutions you need.

Interactive whiteboard walls by Smarter Surfaces

Smart Whiteboard Paint allows you to turn any surface — walls, concrete, wood, or glass — into a high-quality, low-maintenance whiteboard in just 4 days.

It creates a high-performance, non ghosting whiteboard surface, which lets you write on and wipe off effortlessly. Smart Whiteboard Paint is the USA’s No.1 whiteboard paint. It’s available in different finishes and features — white, clear, matte, and antimicrobial are a few to name.

Our Whiteboard Wallpaper is another popular alternative to traditional whiteboards. Stick it directly on any smooth surface after removing the adhesive backing. Give it 24 hours to set and your new non ghosting whiteboard is ready to use.

These products save space, offer commercial-grade performance for minimal upkeep, and come with a 10-year product guarantee.

Maintaining your smart whiteboard wall

It’s really simple to maintain our smart whiteboard walls. Our products come in kits that include all necessary items along with a detailed installation guide. You just have to follow the steps without missing any details while applying/installing the product.

Use good quality dry-erase markers and erase with a clean eraser, or the microfibre cloth provided in the kit, after every use. If mistakenly you have used a permanent marker or a low-quality marker on the whiteboard wall, use only Permanent Marker Remover to get rid of it.

Wrapping it up
Dry erase board ghosting is a common issue. But, it can be fixed with a little extra care when you’re getting a new whiteboard and whiteboard supplies. Plus, using it the right way, as suggested by the manufacturer, can make all the difference.

Our whiteboard paints and wallpapers unravel a new era in non ghosting whiteboards. Swap your traditional board for these easy-cleaning whiteboard solutions and see the difference. Learn more about our products on our website or get in touch with our expert team for consultation.