I can see black patches on it. What is the way to clean the kneaded eraser such that it doesn't leave any marks on the paper?


I can see black patches on it.

That is a part of normal use. Those black marks are graphite, charcoal and etc. that the eraser picked up from your working surface. That is the eraser doing its job as intended.

What you are supposed to do is fold / knead away those "dirty" parts back into the eraser so that non-black (the erasers original colour) parts are exposed so that you don't get unwanted or inefficient transfer. From rapidfireart.com on How to Clean a Kneaded Eraser:

Because kneaded erasers absorb graphite, they will become dirtier with use. To clean a kneaded eraser, you can stretch and knead it until the color turns light grey. Eventually they will become too dirty to use as graphite, charcoal, dust or other particles accumulate in the eraser.

So, at some point, you won't be able to keep using it and then it will be time to seek a replacement.

  • will it not be possible to clean it with soap? – Aquarius_Girl Sep 27 '16 at 8:18
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    I'm going to say no. But I don't know for sure. There are no oils in graphite or the eraser for the soap to bond to. – Matt Sep 28 '16 at 3:43
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    @Aquarius_Girl - nope. Stretching and folding will get it where it won't leave any marks. You can get a lot of milage out of one before it becomes too leaden (wordplay!) to be useable. – rebusB Mar 11 '19 at 23:26
  • Oddly, "snapping" it (pulling rapidly so it breaks instead of stretching) will extend the life of the eraser. I doubted it until I started trying it; they do get cleaner when you "snap" several times before stretching and folding. – Allison C Mar 27 '19 at 13:42

I just tried washing one under a running tap of warm water and lots dishwashing liquid. (I kneaded the rubber while I washed it.) Mine was dark because I used it to pick up charcoal.

Oddly enough it seemed to work with a small cube of rubber (5mm or 1/5"). One drawback is the consistency of the rubber became softer, so it was a little less grippy on the paper -- but I was still able to remove some lines of 6H pencil.

Looking at the rubber now, it seems a shade darker. So perhaps all I have done is to use the detergent to more evenly spread the black throughout the kneadable eraser. In any case it seemed to work.

Might be worth trying for some.

  • This is, I presume, again an answer addressing the regular rubber eraser, and not the kneaded eraser. – Joachim Apr 7 '19 at 9:25
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    No, it's the kneaded eraser. When I find another unusable eraser, I'll wash it and post some photos of before and after. :) – Stefan Apr 7 '19 at 21:11
  • I'll try it myself then. Have some lying around :) – Joachim Apr 7 '19 at 22:39
  • Don't forget to knead it as you wash it. – Stefan Apr 8 '19 at 1:42

I clean my kneaded erasers by stretching them thin like a pancake, then rubbing in dishwashing soap. I let them soak for a few hours in a dish of water, then rub and rinse under the tap. Seems to work!

  • Welcome to Arts & Crafts. This answer seems to confirm that you use a technique similar to what Stefan suggested a few years ago. Just a heads up that the site's objective for answers is that each provide a solution that hasn't already be covered. The way to show that you think an existing answer is useful is to upvote it, which you'll be able to do with just a few more rep points. – fixer1234 Mar 12 at 18:46

Abrasive, a file, sandpaper. Those are the cleaning tools respectively. Rubber block for grinding wheels or sandpaper. Sandpaper or other abrasive media for erasers. Truly a Ying/Yang relationship.

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    Trying to use sandpaper or a file on a kneaded eraser is just going to result in a differently shaped kneaded eraser. They are not standard "pink rubber" erasers. – Allison C Mar 26 '19 at 20:54
  • This is a complementary techniuqe, used to clean sand paper sheets, disks, belts, even blocks. A raw (brown course) block of rubber 2x2x12" is held against clogged paper and the grit is cleaned out. There is no reason it wouldn't work in reverse. I'm only a trained BA in Industrial Technology. JLH – Joel Huebner Mar 31 '19 at 19:35
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    It seems you are unacquainted with the difference between rubber and kneaded erasers; this would work perfectly on a standard eraser, and I am not disputing that, but a kneaded eraser is a consistency much more like putty or poster tack (aka blu-tack). en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kneaded_eraser – Allison C Apr 3 '19 at 14:50
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    For those who are unsure, a kneaded eraser looks and feels like BlueTak. You can mould it into shapes etc. Once a section has been used, you knead it to expose an unused area, often from within the mass of the rubber itself. Unless you attend a drawing class, you may never have seen one, but when you do they are quite a revelation. They're also more expensive than an ordinary solid eraser, so I can understand why you might want to clean one for re-use. – Stefan Apr 6 '19 at 4:37

I have used white spirit on a cloth and lightly rub the surface area until its reasonably clean.

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    The characteristic feature of a kneadable is that you knead it, i.e. there is no permanent outer surface one could clean with white spirit. And applying the spirit to remove smudges from the drawing surface - typically paper - won’t work without damaging it. – Stephie Feb 11 '20 at 18:34
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    Solvents will actually liquify the soft rubber. So this could wind up being a real mess. – rebusB Feb 19 '20 at 15:53

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