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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

How To Clean And Care For A Self-Healing Cutting Mat


Does your cutting mat have lint from fabric stuck in it?  I've been rotary cutting batting making large sheets from my scraps and afterwards it looked like this.


If you're interested in learning how to make full batting sheets from your scraps you can click through on this image to my previous tute.



I was about to clean the mess off the mat and it occurred to me that you might like to see how I do it.


Meet your cutting mat's new best friend - a simple rubber (or eraser for my American readers!).


I keep the side of the rubber/eraser flat on the cutting mat, not that this matters it just means I'm working a larger area at any one time and I move it over the surface of the mat applying a small amount of pressure.


The attached fluff starts to collect as I work.


And finally, I'm left with a collected piece of fluff and a pile of particles from the rubber/eraser which I wipe away.


Less than two minutes from starting my mat looks like new again.


Tips In Caring For Your Self-Healing Cutting Mat:

Hi everyone, my Tips In Caring For Your Self-Healing Cutting Mat post is proving extremely popular across the internet and my tip list is being printed off and shared.  Obviously, as a teacher, I'm always delighted to share my knowledge with everyone and 'spread the word' and I'd love you to do the same for me - tell everyone that you found the info right here and suggest that they visit my blog too. Thanks for your support in advance - Chris :D 

Your mat will warp easily:
don't roll for a prolonged period of time - the time it takes to get it home from the shop when you buy it should be okay as long as you don't take the slow train home! - but once your mat's been used don't do it as it will open up lines where you've cut on it and can cause the mat to crack;
don't stand it on its edge - lie it flat, on your cutting table or under a sofa or bed;
don't iron or apply heat - don't put hot food or drinks on your mat;
don't leave in direct sunlight or against a radiator or other heat source;
don't leave it in a car on a sunny day.

Moisturise:
Did you know your cutting mat needs moisture and this will make cutting easier and your rotary cutting blades won't dull as quickly?  To moisturise your mat now and again place it in a bath of cool water with approx 1/4 cup of white vinegar to every gallon of water.  Let it soak for about 20 minutes.  Using a soft mushroom scrubbing brush and a splash of gentle liquid soap you can clean the surface at the same time.  Rinse and air or towel dry (no heat or direct sunlight!).  If your mat smells this should really help.

Avoid repeated cutting lines:
Try to cut regular cuts on different sections of the mat, regular use of one measured line will create grooves and eventually slice through your mat causing problems when cutting and blunting your rotary cutting blade (a regular occurrence working in a quilt store particularly on the quarter yard and yard lines!!!)

When all else fails:
If a section of your mat fails, don't throw your mat out instead use heavy scissors (not your fabric scissors!) to cut the mat into templates and smaller sections, great for retreats and travelling.


Do you have any more tips in caring for cutting mats?  Share them with us in the comments :D

Additional Tips From Readers' Comments:
A quick brush with a lint roller lifts a lot from the mat - Sarah
Sticking tape can remove stuff too - Chris
Rubbing fabric across your mat usually (not always) works to gather up the fluff - Sandra Walker
Baby wipes clean mats - Cate Brickell

Updated at 11.14 am Saturday, 25 July 2015
I saw this youtube video by Hedi Salm - How To Fix A Warped Cutting Mat.  I haven't done this myself so I'm in no way saying she's right and it works but if you have a warped mat you might want to watch this video and decide for yourself whether to give her technique a go or not!



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Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only, no payment or commission is received on click-throughs and opinions are my own.





60 comments:

  1. Thanks, Chrissie; I was wondering how I would get the fluff out of the cuts, after the last batch of wadding cutting. This post is a real eye-opener!

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  2. Thanks.My mat needs to be moisture .

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  3. Thank you Chris! Great tips, and I had no idea my mats need moisture!

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  4. A very useful post Chris - thank you very much. xx

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  5. Great post Chrissie, I think my cutting mat could certainly use a bath :)

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  6. Wow! Thank you for such great tips. Cutting mats are expensive, and I don't want to have to replace mine! After I did do QAYG projects, my mat tends to have a lot of fluff pushed into the cracks and I've found that a quick brush with a lint roller will pick up a lot.

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    1. A lint roller - that's a great tip and one I forgot to include, I've also used sticking tape to lift fluff, etc in the past - I'll update the post with your tip - thanks Sarah :D

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  7. What a useful post, thanks so much for this! I think my mat is in good need of a bit of TLC and now I know how to do it!!

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  8. Great tip! I've bought a couple of second hand ones for mere pennies but they were very, very warped and marked. I put them in a warm oven to flatten them out and then a bath. I love your quick method for removing fluff xx

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    1. I love that you put your mats in a warm oven, I'm assuming it worked? You have left me wondering though what size oven you have and hoping they were small'ish mats?!!! - Chris :D

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  9. Haven't use a rubber for year. Time to dig one out from the bottom of the drawer. Thanks for the tips, Chris. Pinning.

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  10. Thanks for all the tips. I can't say I've ever done much mat maintenance! How often would you say you bathe your mat?

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    1. Olfa themselves say 'now and again'. I guess it depends really on how much you use the mat, what you're cutting on it and where you store it, probably also down to the humidity where you live. If you've had your mat for a while I'd suggest giving it a bath and nnoting how different it appears afterwards and any improvement in rotary cutting. I guess once you know how the mat 'should' be then you'll be able to guage better when it's in need of a 'spa session' again! - Chris :D

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  11. very helpful. LeeAnna at not afraid of color

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  12. I shall have to try this on my mat!

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  13. Great tips, thanks for sharing. It's a wonderful reminder to clean my mat.

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  14. Great tips for the prolonging mat life! Thanks!

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  15. Thanks for the tip. I just saw several brand spankin new "erasers" yesterday when I was getting the hubs some lead for his mechanical pencil. Guess I need to move one to the sewing room now!

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  16. Wonderful post here. Not something that I've seen much about before, and good things to be aware of. Thank you so much.

    Julie @ Pink Doxies

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  17. This is very informative. Thank you. We just need to take good care of our tools.

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  18. Thanks for sharing that great little tip! I would never have thought of using an eraser to clean my mat.

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  19. Good info here, thank you! I never thought to use an eraser in this way; I've just rubbed some fabric across which usually (not always) works to gather up the fluff. Who knew you could soak the mats? Not I. Thanks for this!

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    1. Thanks for your tip too Sandra, I've updated the post and credited you - Chris :D

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  20. Hi! Found on the #HomeMattersParty and pinning. Such great information, thank you! Going to click through to the batting scraps post, too. That would be SO helpful!

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    1. Thanks for dropping by Nicole, hope you found the batting scraps tute useful too. I make up huge sheets of batting from my scraps, I'll just sit at the machine and have a batting evening!!! - Chris :D

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  21. Thanks for the great information!

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  22. Thanks, great tip, will try

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  23. Coming from mixed media/scrapbooking, I've always used baby wipes to clean my self healing mats. But I'm going to try that soaking bath on both my mats (one for scrapbooking, one for fabric, just like the scissors) will see if it makes a difference.

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    1. Thanks for your tip Cate, I've updated the post and credited you. Did you try soaking your mats? Did it make a difference? - Chris :D

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  24. Time to moisturize my may ..thanks.

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  25. Thanks for the info. I've stood my mat on edge for years and have just noticed it is starting to warp a bit. I plan on giving it a spa day tomorrow so hopefully, I've caught it early an can rejuvenate it.

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    1. Did you have a chance to give your mat a spa day Karen and did it help? - Chris :D

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  26. Thanks fro the tip my cutting mat is a disgrace I will now go and fix it.

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  27. Great post; many thanks. Cutting mat maintenance never occurred to me, altho I did notice that turning it keeps the one or two most common measurements from getting deep grooves.

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  28. This is very interesting, I never knew these mats needed moisturising! I just use mine for cutting so I don't get the fluff, but I've had them dry out before!

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  29. I've never even thought of using my self-healing mat for fabrics. I've only used it for paper products and such. This is a great tip! Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty - we love partying with you! Hope to see you next Friday. :)

    ~Lorelai
    Life With Lorelai

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  30. I never knew how to do that, I stopped using my cutting mat with my circular cutter because I didn't want to damage it too much. I think mine could probably do with a bath.

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  31. Love the rubber idea for batting as that fluffs sticks like mad to the cutting mat

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  32. Sadly, I thought I could iron something 'really quick' on my mat, well.....you can't.

    No heat at all on the mat!! Trust me. My mat doesn't lay flat anymore.

    Sadly, I thought I could iron something 'really quick' on my mat, well.....you can't.

    http://www.justlikegrammashouse.com

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    1. Oh no, you killed your mat!!! Hope you can still use it a little or were able to cut some good sections from it to use for smaller projects - Chris :D

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  33. DO NOT EVER PUT HEAT ON YOUR CUTTING MAT

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  34. I use baby wipes , too. I clean my cutting mat really rare.... I know. It is not right. Thank you for sharing this post. It is really interesting information! Best regards! http://edgwarecarpetcleaners.co.uk/

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  35. This is such a great way of cleaning it, thank you Chrissie! And the warped mat video looks pretty interesting!

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  36. Such a simple fix! I've often considered buying a cutting mat but haven't yet. I shall bear this in mind if I do!! :)

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  37. Great points. I have a cutting mat and I always keep it upright. I'll lay it flat now!

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  38. You know you are a good sewer when you need one of these!

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  39. Hi, Chris! I can't believe the amount of information in this one post - I never knew any of it! I only use my mat once in awhile, but never thought to take care of it, like giving it a tuneup. Awesome post - thank you! Pinned in my "learning to sew" folder!

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  40. It's official, I'm a bad cutting mat owner. Will definitely have to put some of these practices to work right away. Great post

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  41. I now keep an eraser nearby when I'm cutting fuzzy stuff. I had forgotten this was the blog I discovered that trick (just found the link again from a recent post). Works great. Thanks!

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  42. what do you do if your mat won't fit into the tub?

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    1. My mat is huge and won't fit in my tub either, I soaked one half and then turned it and soaked the other half :D

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  43. I just purchased my largest mat yesterday. I had inherited my Moms old mat. I just learned
    more than I have in 60 years of sewing for everyone. Quilting is definitly different. I love
    it.

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    1. Great to meet you Tupper, I'm so glad you found my blog. I hope you have great use from your mat for many years to come :D

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Chris Dodsley