I have a problem with the graphite dust that accumulates on graphite pencil drawings. The usual approach is to brush it off periodically with a very soft bush, but I'm in a situation where brushing graphite dust onto things would not be acceptable. What would be a good way to lift and trap the dust?

I thought a kneaded eraser might work, but would be awkward to apply to a whole sheet repeatedly. I'm considering tack cloth as is used in wood finishing, but I read that they can leave residue on things.

  • 2
    Why do you have that problem in the first place, if I may ask? The best solution would be to cover your drawings. And if a kneaded eraser is only awkward whereas a soft brush doesn't work, then what kind of drawings are they? What support do you use?
    – Joachim
    Jul 16, 2022 at 10:33
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    I think you are thinking of environmental dust. I'm talking about the loose graphite dust that accumulates on the paper while drawing.
    – Deqanix
    Jul 16, 2022 at 12:20

1 Answer 1


A few ideas:

  • Work with the piece on an oversize sheet of paper, like butcher or kraft paper, to protect the table surface, and brush the graphite dust off the back of the work onto the paper to collect it.

  • Periodically vacuum the dust off with a small hand vac with a soft brush nozzle and a HEPA filter (graphite dust is very fine, so you need a vac with a HEPA filter).

  • Use a drafting "dry cleaning pad" (example). These are a porous fabric bag containing powdered gum eraser. You squeeze the bag to push some powder out onto its surface, then lightly wipe the surface of the work. The loose graphite sticks to the powder, and the powder is easy to manage and won't transfer graphite onto other things.

    The powder is also available as "drafting powder" (example: https://www.amazon.com/ALVIN-Drafting-Powder-2oz-Shaker/dp/B000HF6ZFC) that comes in a shaker can. You sprinkle some on the work and periodically brush it around, and temporarily brush it out of the way of the area you're working on. It works the same way but is kind of messy because you leave it there while you work. The loose powder requires working on a surface that isn't inclined too much from horizontal.

    Caveat: the powder and pads are designed for drafting, where you typically want either dark lines or white paper. They tend to take a little of the line depth with them, which slightly lightens them. It isn't too noticeable when it's just dark lines on a white background because the background also gets lighter when you clean it. With a drawing containing different levels of shading, the lightening will be more noticeable.

  • I wonder if a hand vac would be able the dislodge the dust without messing the lines. Maybe if I used drafting power first. This is something to try if I don't find a simpler solution.
    – Deqanix
    Jul 16, 2022 at 23:14

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