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.