“Protecting your precious cards at all cost”, that’s what some of my collector friends used to say to me whenever I just started to be a TCG collector myself. My start was a bit off compared to everyone, that I had to customize my card sleeves in order to keep the cards saved from being exposed to the severe damage of the environment, as well as other damages from unexpected actions made by me, or friends that might pay a visit and physically touch the decks, interestingly. The overexcitement might cost you a fortune to restore what was vandalized. As a kid, I wouldn’t have enough money to afford card sleeves at the shop, so customizing them was the only way. The sleeves were ugly and easily torn, so I had to replace them multiple times.
Now that I’m financially independent, buying for my decks the beautiful sleeves they deserve has no longer been a difficulty. However, the more I get into card collection, the more I’m aware that I want everything to be perfectly preserved, even the sleeves must be original as it was fresh out from the box. Even if they’re left untouched on the shelf, dust and other minor factors can always affect the appearance. Therefore, cleaning is what must be done to keep them frequently sanitized and incredibly clean. But having them washed off at card stores is costly, as it’s a routine that has to be done monthly, even weekly. And the cost adds up every time that eventually may get out of hand. There’s only one way left to handle this situation, and that is cleaning it on your own.
Sadly, it’s not an easy one. Encouragingly, There’s at least one solution to every problem. So, after many months of doing my research and asking for instruction from specialties in the business, I was finally able to come up with the right way of cleaning card sleeves that guarantees fresh-looking card protectors.
How To Properly Shower Your Card Sleeves?
Give Them A Refreshing Bath
This is specifically applied to sleeves that are way too dirty, with too much bacteria, dust, the leftover of food, … on the cards. If you’ve been a professional card cleaner yourself and are just here to look for other ways of cleaning (If you know what you’re doing to be exact), feel free to experiment your way. However, if you’re a newcomer to this type of topic and sleeves cost a bit more than your budget, I’d suggest you test it out on an unused card for practice in order to understand the overall picture of what you’re doing. Once you get it and feel confident enough for a more difficult challenge, you’re ready to move on!
- Prepare a bath of warm water and any type of cleaning agent that you’ve got in your home. I’d suggest using just a tender chemical so that the reaction between the card materials and the chemical won’t be too strong. (Method all-purpose cleaners – French Lavender Spray Bottle is a good choice since I’ve been using it for my sleeves, but there are many more to choose so just take your time to decide which one suits your card outer cover).
- Mix up the cleaning agent and the water, then soak the sleeves up with the liquid.
- As a few minutes have already passed by, the bacteria and leftovers on the sleeves have probably gotten loose a bit. Now it’s time to move the sleeves to another bath of cold water, as the cold liquid will immediately get rid of all the dust particles or food stuck on the covers.
- Wait again for the sleeves to enjoy its cool bathtub. The process might take a while so you might want to take a pack of chips to kill the time because it will be so boring doing nothing at all.
- After approximately 15 mins, remove the sleeves out of the water. Then wait for them to dry out. If you want them to dry out quickly, you can use a hairdryer but I wouldn’t suggest such, since the power of the device can be way too strong that it might cause some folds on the sleeves.
- The armor might seem to all dry out just now, but don’t quickly assume such, because if they’re not, then it might cause severe damage to your decks. The reaction between the water and the card might happen unexpectedly which could be out of control. Therefore, the best solution to this (in my opinion) is to use a card that you don’t use or any hard paper of the same size so that you can install them in advance for the water to be absorbed entirely.
- Leave the sleeves there for a few hours (usually it doesn’t take that long for them to dry off but just in case) until it’s usable for the sleeves to be back on protective mode.
Another method I’d recommend for sleeves that have less and washable dust is to use a brush if you tend to keep regular cleaning.
This could tremendously help to avoid using any techniques relating to water that could cause water damage (Since card sleeves are well-known to be sensitive to all sorts of liquid). A soft bristle is a must in this case because you will have to be gentle when brushing the sleeves. With any annoying dust, don’t try too hard to remove them by scratching stronger because it will only make the situation worse. Other than that, slightly take care of them as mildly as possible. You don’t want any damage done to your favorite sleeves, especially when they’re your favorite card guardians.
Alcohol Can Also Help You Save The Day!!!
A bit of alcohol can also be useful in a lot of cases, even to the most challenging ones. All you have to do is prepare a piece of cloth and some rubbing alcohol. It’s definitely the safest way to clean sleeves since it doesn’t require too many steps, all you have to do is rub the sleeves, and voila, all done!! It will look just like a brand-new sleeve after finishing.
Cleaning cards and card sleeves are true, a tough one to conquer. Especially during this high-demand period of the card collection industry, cards have become more expensive than ever. Therefore, it’s a must to learn the proper way to clean them, put more work into drilling with those steps, and keep them as a habit.
I hope you all can enjoy the tips above. If you have any cool ideas that you want to share with everyone, feel free to do it. Have fun cleaning card sleeves!!!