Tuesday, April 5, 2016

How to clean your stamps!

How do you clean stamps?  It is a question that people ask all the time, when you are new to stamping or an old pro (we are all looking for new ways!).  The question doesn't have ONE answer, or even a wrong answer, well, maybe if your answer is you DON'T clean your stamps!!!  SHOCKING, the HORROR!!!!  You have to clean your stamps after you are done stamping, sometimes even in the middle of a project so you can switch ink colors.  
There are several methods I use, and each one has it pros and cons.

I'll start with my newest: the LawnFawn stamp Shammy.  The shammy is just a 5X7 ....well, shammy, it's hard to describe the material without feeling it.  Basically it works with just water.  

Here is my shammy dry....it is stiff and hard (stands up right on its own).  As you can see, I've used my shammy- non of that ink will come off on your stamps, so once it is cleaned off of the stamp, it stays on the shammy- stained shammies work fine so no need to fret!

A dry shammy

You just add water, as you can see, the edge is wet and now soft and pliable again. 

Now the shammy is ready to use. I like my shammy on the wetter side, but you can ring it out more or less as you like. Edited to add: after doing some scrapbooking and using my shammy, I did find that it didn't clean an encore metallic ink off of one of the stamps I used.  So I do think it depends on the ink you use.  I don't use encore ink often, so it was the first time I notice it.  It worked great with my Stampin' Up inks.  So it might depend on the ink you use.   So pros and cons of the shammy:
Pros: cost, reusable, just uses water, no chemicals, cleans well, I think it is one of the most gentlest ways to clean photopolymer stamps since it is just water
Cons: storage- while this isn't a big deal, there is no set storage of the stamp shammy- I use a plastic bag or let it dry on my working table, if the stains bother you- the shammy isn't for you- it still works but some people want their shammy to stay pretty, I don't use this method with my misti since I like to leave it flat and overly wet on my table- I don't want the water to get on a project, if I squeezed it out more I could wipe my misti or my stamps on my misti but I just reach for a wipe.(more on those later). Won't work on all inks. 

Overall: the shammy is a great option, works well

The next option I use is my Stampin' Up mist with the scrubber.  You use this in combination with the scrubber and spray, you mist one side with the cleaner, scrub, scrub, scrub, then you scrub your stamp dry on the opposite side, easy and done! This is one of the best scrubbers I have found, big enough for large background stamps, works well, rises nice and clean with water after a day of stamping.  I will take my scrubber to the sink and run COLD water over it, until the water runs clean, then I set it in the drain so it can dry overnight.  (Hot water tends to lift the pads from the scrubber) This is the ONLY cleaner that I use, I can't stand spraying cleaners and having the smell of them, maybe I am sensitive.  This one doesn't bother me at all.  The refills are nice.  I only take my scrubber and the mini spray bottle to crops.
Pros: cleans stamps very well, good for sensitive noses, gentle on stamps, ease of use
Cons: I don't use this method with my misti because I have to take the stamp off the misti to use on the scrubber, often getting ink all over my fingers.  I do have to keep an eye on my refill, and order when I get low- not a big deal.

Overall: cleans wonderfully, gets in every nook and cranny of a stamp and dries them as well so they can be put away instantly!

The next method is wet wipes.  
First off, don't use alcohol based wet wipes on your stamps!!!!  I use a refillable container from OXO- I got it at amazon.  I also got the refills (they come dry) on amazon.  Be careful, the refills comes with a LOT of refills, not sure I will EVER use this many in my life time, so sharing with a friend is good.  
I got this idea from Understanding Blue's blog:
She is a wonderfully talented stamper!  She has the links to the products shown here and I think even a video or two on them!  Check her out!!

You must have a cleaner on the wipes- I use the Stampin' Up mist.  I poured a whole refill in mine when I first started using this.  I think you can half and half the cleaner with water too to get more out of a refill.  I used a whole refill bottle with mine and a fresh set of cloths. 

Pros: Easy to use, best container out there, keeps wipes moist for months....mine have YET to dry out as long as you SHUT the container, the weighted "bar" helps you get just one wipe out at a time and makes it easy to refill, I use this method on my misti or to clean ink off my stamping mat or desk or fingers....or anything else I get ink on....it happens, lint free wipes, easy to control
Cons: start up is more than other methods, still need cleaner, the refills come with a LOT of wipes, maybe they offer a smaller size now, but they didn't when I ordered
Overall: Great for when I use my misti, and I use these all the time. Good for wiping off a spot of ink on a stamp or block or on the misti that you didn't want,  Some people wash their wipes and reuse them but I don't have time for all that!!!  I throw them away when I'm done.

One more point about cleaners: if you use stazon ink, you MUST use the Stazon cleaner to get your stamp clean.  The other methods I used here, will NOT clean stazon.  Stazon isn't an ink I use a lot, mainly because.....I don't like the smell, and I HATE the greasy cleaner.  I will not use the stazon cleaner with my scrubber or my shammy!  And even if I clean my stamps with the cleaner, I run them under warm water because the cleaner is greasy, then I use my scrubber to make sure they are nice and film free.  I really hate stazon cleaner.  

The most important thing to remember is to clean your stamps!  You never want to stamp your inked black stamp into your yellow ink pad!!!  UGH!!!  CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN!!!!
Photopolymer stamps will stain, it's their nature, especially with red/pink inks.  It doesn't affect their stamping and as long as they are clean, stained stamps work fine.  Stamps that have been longed stained, may never come clean, so it's always best to clean after each use!
Hope this was helpful!
Leave me a comment and tell me your favorite method of cleaning your stamps: or if you use any of my methods too!

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