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What is a Chalkboard Eraser?

By Matthew F.
Updated Feb 26, 2024
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A chalkboard eraser is a supplement and tool used with chalkboards. Most often used in classrooms, these erasers allow for erasing of chalk on a chalkboard. The eraser is used to wipe the surface of a board clean, removing the white or colored dust that chalk is most commonly made of. Making chalkboards reusable, the erasers are reusable themselves, and often have a long use life. Similar products can come in the form of blackboard erasers and marker erasers, which work much like chalkboard erasers to remove more modern markings from boards in classrooms.

A common chalkboard eraser is composed of felt strips that are held together with sticky paper or glue. These felt strips can be accompanied by cardboard pieces in between to provide for a sturdier eraser. The felt tips are used as the surface of the eraser, and come in contact with the chalkboard to wipe the old chalk markings off. The eraser is often only a few inches long and wide, and can typically just fit into the pocket of your pants.

While chalkboard erasers are used to wipe chalk off of chalkboards, they accumulate chalk dust quickly and often become dirty. A few large wipes on the chalkboard could fill the surface of the eraser with dust, making it impossible to clear the board any further. Once the felt surface is dirty, the dust will no longer be removed with the chalkboard eraser, but shifted and smudged.

Cleaning a chalkboard eraser is rather primitive, and is as simple as pounding the eraser against a solid surface or a metal filter. The eraser can also be cleaned by soaking it in warm water. This method will not allow for immediate use, however, as the eraser will then have to dry before it can be used. Cleaning the eraser by pounding it on a surface was popular in the early part of the 1900s. Teachers would often do this in the classroom or ask children to do it, sending dust particles into the air. The dust particles eventually proved unsafe, inducing sneezing, asthma, and restricted airways.

At a cost of only a few dollars in the United States, the chalkboard eraser is still commonly used in classrooms or by people who have chalkboards at home. Improvements have made chalkboard erasers smaller, have made the surfaces thicker, and have added accessories like handles, allowing them to be strapped to the back of the hand for quicker use.

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Discussion Comments

By anon304747 — On Nov 21, 2012

In my country, chalkboards are still widely used, though I am not always near the board for fear I might start sneezing!

By popcorn — On Sep 03, 2011

I am teaching in Asia and chalkboards and chalkboard erasers are still very much alive and well. I love those classes where I have whiteboards and markers to use, but I suppose getting covered in chalk during most classes brings me more in touch with the teaching profession.

What makes me laugh is that our students are always trying to set up traps for the other students with the chalkboard erasers. They'll slip them on a chair or position them to fall on other people's heads.

I suppose I should scold them more, but they seem to be having fun. The wronged kids always get their revenge too.

By wander — On Sep 03, 2011

Chalkboard erasers always bring back memories of my elementary school. I remember our teacher always made the bad students clean the chalkboard erasers outside and bring them back into the class. Basically if you were naughty you got stuck banging the chalkboard erasers outside, on the building, for a good 5-10 minutes to make sure each one was up to snuff for our teacher's inspection.

This really doesn't seem like such a bad punishment when you look at it a few years removed, but back then getting chalk dust in your face and on your hands was pretty terrible. Plus, cleaning the chalkboard erasers during the freezing winter was really bad.

By Mykol — On Sep 02, 2011

I didn't realize they still used traditional chalkboards and erasers in a lot of classrooms today.

Since it has been awhile since I have been inside a classroom, I just thought many of them have been replaced with dry erase boards.

I know if I had my choice between a chalkboard and a dry erase board, I would go with a dry erase one every time.

I never liked the squeaky sound of the chalk on the chalkboard, and cleaning the erasers was always a messy job.

A dry erase board is so much cleaner and easier to use, but for economical reasons I can see why many schools would continue to use a chalkboard.

By John57 — On Sep 01, 2011

Whenever I think of chalkboard erasers, I think of elementary school. All of our classrooms had chalkboards, chalk and erasers that got used everyday.

I remember taking those felt chalkboard erasers outside and pounding them against the brick walls of the school to clean them off. This was a messy job that always left a cloud of dust in the air and made me cough.

I didn't mind cleaning them though, because I got to go outside and get out of the classroom for awhile.

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