Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tools: Clean Those Stamps!

Okay, I must confess a certain level of neat freakishness when it comes to cleaning my stamps. Stampers exist (you know who you are!) who rarely clean their stamps.

How do they sleep at night? 


ThreatCon-Alpha Cleaning

Cleaning stamps requires--for us freakish neatniks--two levels of cleaning. The first level, what we might call ThreatCon Alpha, utilizes the amazing cleaning powers of water and friction. I use one of these travel cases for Huggies, left over from the days long past when I carried a diaper bag.

Of course, I don't put Huggies or any sort of baby wipe in here because some wipes contain chemicals that can hurt your stamps over time. (I read that on the internet so it must be true.) Instead, I use old washcloths that are dampened with tap water and wrung out. Washcloths are cheaper anyway.

Important Safety Tip: Do not close the wipe container completely with a wet washcloth in it. The washcloth will grow microscopic bacteria, start to stink, and--if left long enough--will grow visible mold, mildew or bacterial mats to rival what you see in the thermal pools of Yellowstone National Park.

Come to think of it, this particular wipe container is, technically, not the one I used in the diaper bag lo those many years ago. The current case replaced one that grew enough stinky life to walk away on its own.

Just don't close the lid all the way. Leaving it cracked lets evaporation outpace spontaneous generation of mutant life forms.

I keep a supply of old washcloths in a drawer in my craft area and generally change them out every other day or so.

ThreatCon-Alpha cleaning works great on pigment ink (Brilliance, Impress, etc.) and non-staining dye inks (like Memento). These wipe off and don't generally leave a residue behind. For inks that stain stamps or leave residue, however, we need to step up the threat condition a bit.

ThreatCon-Bravo Cleaning

For Hero Arts, Memories, Ancient Page, chalk, hybrid, or other staining inks, simple water and friction won't suffice. We need chemical warfare to get those stamps properly clean.

Have you ever stamped an image in light ink and thought the color was off? You probably hadn't cleaned the stamp properly after previous use. Leaving a dark staining ink on a stamp means running the risk of contamination when using a lighter ink.

Don't take this risk! Two simple, long-lasting supplies will remove the threat and get your stamps sparkling clean in no time.

This scrubber has lasted about ten years and is still going strong, and the bottle of
Ultra Clean is my second--just opened--in the same span of time.

A stamp scrubber and Ultra Clean stamp cleaner work to remove pesky stains and contamination from rubber or photopolymer stamps.

Spray the cleaner on the lower pad (which is thicker and removable for washing), rub your stamp on it, then rub the stamp on the dry top pad (which is thinner and glued to the the plastic container), and your stamp is dandy clean!

The cleaner, which has magical anti-grossness properties, won't grow bacteria if the container is closed, so no worries there.

Important Safety Tip: DO NOT, under any circumstances, leave a photopolymer stamp resting on the cleaning pad for any length of time. The cleaner on the bristles of the pad WILL damage the stamp by leaving impressions of the bristles. Wiping the stamp dry after cleaning will prevent any damage.

Note #1: Staz-On Ink requires its own cleaner...according to the internet. I have that cleaner also, with its sponge applicator built in, but rarely use Staz-On.

Note #2: I love the stamp scrubber thingie but you could just spray the cleaner on a washcloth, too...although some cleaner might be wasted if it gets absorbed into the washcloth.

Note #3: Some inks will permanently stain photopolymer, regardless of cleaners used. This staining in no way affects the performance of the stamps and doesn't bother me at all.

Note #4: How patient you are with notes to have made it this far. Thank you!

Feel free to share your tips and techniques for cleaning stamps in the comments. Perhaps I can pick up some new neat freakishness!


  1. I use baby wipes (containing water only, I think) as step 1 and scrubber thingie as step 2. I don't think a washcloth with the spray cleaner will work very well with the tiny crevasses in some very detailed stamps. The fiber in the scrubber thingie is much finer than terry cloth and gets into those small spaces better. Be sure to change directions as you scrub with the scrubber otherwise you'll miss spaces. Some stamps will still need more work especially if you've used Versafine, which gets everywhere. I go back to the baby wipe and and a fingernail to get in the really tiny spaces where ink lurks.

  2. fun! i use an absorber cloth and water. My stamps and I have survived!

  3. oh, and sometimes rubbing alcohol. Again, my stamps and I have survived!

  4. Absorber, water and a denture toothbrush.

  5. I put a damp sponge in an old plastic container and then dry the stamp with a microfiber cloth. Easy to throw in the wash when needed. Been doing this for well over 20 years. Stamps, sponges (still using my first package of 6 sponges) and cloths have held up with no problems. I get hives when I think of all the stuff that ends up in landfills.

  6. My first lesson in stamping was "A clean stamp is a happy stamp"!

    I use thin damp sponges ... and the spray when I need it. But I have just bought THE ABSORBER recommended by the Misti users. Seems to work so well. I cut mine into smaller squares - easier to use and will last longer.

  7. Interesting read, including the comments. I have recently bought the Hero Arts scrubber pad and cleaner and this really helps keeping my stamps clean. Before, I used a cleaning dauber, but that does not work as well as the scrubber pad. I think I will give the sponge and microfibre cloth a try, since I already have these products. As for the Staz-On cleaner, the way I understand it is that you should use this only on rubber stamps.

  8. I have my scrubber pad and spray and I have baby wipes with no funny chemicals and I have the chammi (also known as the absorber). Wipes most often used thn chammie if lots of stamping going on. If I cant get to water to regularly rinse cloth then spray and scrubber pad does well.

  9. And an old toothbrush if its really heavy inked. Thanks for handy hints ai love them.

  10. LOVE your blog!! I also use a scrubber thingy & when my cleaning solution ran out I found that 2-3 drops do DAWN dish detergent in a small spritzer bottle works really well. After all, if it works on animals, it will surely work on stamps. Just an FYI

  11. To add to this I just read that IF your photopolymer stamp stains, that means its a good quality! I think it was ROCK STAR Julie Ebersole who shared that hint. On the other hand, ROCK STAR Susan said it doesn't matter anyway - they still work perfectly ;)

  12. Ohhh, a toothbrush. Great idea! I have three, yes three stamp pad cleaners. I bought one, one was a gift and I actually bought a third one when I had a card making party at my house. I have some Stamping Up spray cleaner and some Close to My Heart spray cleaner. They seem to work about the same. I will try the Dawn tip when they run out. My Close to My Heart consultant said to put the stamp cleaner pad opened of course, into the dishwasher to clean it. It works great!!

    1. Oh, and too, no stamps get put away dirty. And I hate it when the wood mounted ones have stained wood. Oh well.

  13. hello mf...
    I just read your cleaning techniques. I try to keep mine clean too. If you do need to use Stazon ink for whatever and trust me, I don't always like it either but ink your stamps with Versamark first, then Stazon. It will wash off so easily and not stain your stamps, at least it hasn't done on mine although that also depends on the quality.


Thank you so much for taking time to comment!