The first die cutters were invented by cobblers who wanted to produce shoes in standard sizes. Little did they know the influence their work would have on the home crafting world over a century later. Innovation has come a long way since those first die cutters for shoes. While cobblers didn’t need to learn how to clean a Cricut mat, you probably do.
You’re about halfway through your project. You notice your materials are no longer sticking to your cutting mat. These mats are pricey and not something you want to replace all the time. But, if your paper or fabrics don’t stick properly, you risk ruining your precious pieces or at the very least, cutting them inaccurately. You don’t want to ruin the mat you have by cleaning it improperly, so it’s important to know that how to clean a Cricut mat depends mostly on the type of mat you’re using.
Types of Cricut Mats
Home cutting machines are incredibly versatile and can be helpful for a plethora of projects. However, not all materials are created equal. Therefore, Cricut mats are available in four types based upon the material you will be cutting. They have varying levels of grip. The first three are for the most part the same mat with increasing grip strength. The FabricGrip mat is quite a bit different and requires specialized care.
LightGrip Cutting Mat (Blue)
The LightGrip Cutting Mat known as the “blue mat” has the least amount of grip or stickiness. Materials cut with the blue mat are lightweight include printer paper, vellum, thin scrapbook paper or wrapping paper, to name a few.
StandardGrip Cutting Mat (Green)
Crafters use the StandardGrip Cutting Mat or the “green mat” for cutting things like cardstock or vinyl.
StrongGrip Cutting Mat (Purple)
The purple mat is the StrongGrip mat used for holding heavyweight materials like magnet material or faux leather.
FabricGrip Cutting Mat (Pink)
The FabricGrip mat is the newest Cricut cutting mat. It is specially designed to keep the fabric in place for cutting. This mat is thicker than the other Cricut mats and does not have the same sticky surface, so cleaning is a slightly different process.
Supplies You’ll Need to Learn How to Clean a Cricut Mat
The supplies you will need to learn how to clean a Cricut mat will not only depend on the mat type but also if you need to “deep clean” it or perform just routine maintenance.
- Dishwashing liquid
- Magic eraser
- Alcohol-free baby wipes
- Lint roller
- Masking tape or blue painters tape
- Spray adhesive or adhesive pen
Alcohol vs. No Alcohol
In researching this topic online, you may find some instructions that include using rubbing alcohol to clean your Cricut mat. It is important to note that alcohol can damage your mat, so we advise to avoid it altogether. Alcohol doesn’t only strip the mat’s adhesive; it can eat into the mat itself.
I had used alcohol on one of my cutting mats, back before I knew better, and sure enough, I ruined my mat. Alcohol caused the first layer of the mat to flake and gum up, the more I used, the more “residue” was produced. Ultimately, it ended up being pieces of the actual mat dissolving as I scrubbed. So yes, avoid alcohol, it is not your cutting mat’s friend.
While other methods may require a bit more elbow grease, the results are far superior.
How to Clean a Cricut Mat
The Cricut website says how to clean a Cricut mat the best way is to bath it in warm, not hot, soapy water using dish liquid. If the water is too warm, it can warp your mat, which will impact the accuracy of your cutting. So keep the water warm, but not hot.
Please note these instructions are for blue, green, or purple mats and is not for cleaning the pink mat.
1. Use a scraper and lint roller to remove bits and pieces
First, use the scraper or Cricut spatula to remove all of the leftover scraps on your cutting mat. Go gentle, as you don’t want to damage the surface. Another great tool to remove the “lint residue” that gets trapped in the adhesive is a lint roller. It does a great job of picking up those tiny particles that seem impossible to remove.
2. Wipe down your mat with a baby wipe
After you’ve removed all of the small scraps and pieces from your mat, wipe it down with an alcohol-free baby wipe. Be sure to use baby wipes that do not contain any fragrances, lotions or skin conditioners, as these can all damage the grip of your mat.
You may find that this is all you need to do. Allow the mat to dry, and it will be sticky again. If you do this step on a regular basis, you may be able to avoid the next few steps a little while longer. However, if your mat is beyond the simple baby wipe treatment, continue. It will be nearly as good as new once you’re finished learning how to clean a Cricut mat.
3. Fill the sink with warm soapy water
So, you need to go beyond the baby wipe treatment. Next, using a standard dish liquid like Dawn, fill your sink with warm, soapy water. Again, be mindful not to use dish liquid that includes oils or lotions for your skin as these can damage the grip. Oil makes glue less sticky – so just keep that in mind.
4. Wash the mat
Then, place your mat in the warm water and wash it buy just rubbing your hands over it in the water. You may have to scrub it a bit with your fingers to remove the little bits of lint and fuzz that are left behind from your projects of old. Have patience and just keep gently scrubbing.
5. Use a magic eraser for stubborn areas
If you have stubborn areas, you can use a magic eraser to work on them. You don’t want to get too vigilant, or you may damage your mat in small spots, however, lightly rubbing the mat with a magic eraser can move this process along a bit faster.
Now, rinse your mat with lukewarm to warm water – again, not too hot. You should have a nice clean mat ready to dry when you’re finished. If not, you may need to continue washing your mat until the results are satisfactory.
7. Hang mat to air dry
Finally, hang your mat to dry. Do not try to dry it with towels as this will just put lint and fuzz back on to your mat and decrease the stickiness. Once your Cricut cutting mat is dry, you should notice that its grip has returned and it’s ready to create your next project.
However, if you have washed it multiple times, you may need to consider re-applying adhesive to rejuvenate your older mat. “Resticking” a mat is an easy process and can buy you quite a bit more time before you have to shell out money for a replacement.
Special Considerations for the Pink FabricGrip Mat
The FabricGrip mat is different than the other mats that deal with mostly paper craft or vinyl. It is not advised to use a scraper on the pink mat as it can remove the adhesive. Instead, experts recommend using tweezers to pick off small pieces, the Cricut spatula or transfer tape. A lint roller can be a valuable tool for this one.
As a last resort, if your FabricGrip mat is just not sticking as it should and the bits and pieces are too small and vast to remove with tweezers, there are testimonies of crafters online who have used a baby wipe to clean their FabricGrip mat and it restored the stickiness. Again, make sure only to use alcohol-free “sensitive skin” baby wipes to remove the chance of adding oils or lotions to your work surface.
Keep in mind that unlike the other mats, cutting with the FabricGrip mat will not be as impacted from small remnants of fabric leftover.
After you’ve cleaned your mat a few times, you may find the sticky isn’t as it used to be. At this point, many people would toss the old mat and purchase a new one. However, you may be able to resuscitate that old mat for just a few more runs through the machine.
1. Tape edges of the mat
The first step to “restick” your Cricut mat when using a spray adhesive like Krylon Easy-Tack is to tape all the edges. You do not want your new glue to get on the sides of the mat which would consequently gum up your machine. So, use masking tape and protect those edges!
If you choose to use a glue pen, rather than spray adhesive, you can skip the taping step — although you may still want to be as safe as possible.
2. Add adhesive to the mat
The accuracy of a glue pen is far less risky to your edges as spray adhesive which you cannot control as easily. The added advantage of the pen is also that it goes on a color, so you can see exactly how much you are putting on your mat and where. If you do end up getting glue on any of your mat edges beyond the ruler guide, promptly wipe it off.
Another advantage to the glue pen is you can also see when it’s dry because it typically goes on as a color (blue) and it dries clear. If you are using spray adhesive, check the instructions on the can and make sure you follow the recommended distance for an application. Spray your mat, in a well-ventilated area, with a fine coat of adhesive.
3. Let mat dry 30 minutes
Allow the new layer of glue to set for 30 minutes. If you use a glue pen, wait until all the newly added glue is clear. It’s important to not place any materials or the plastic film cover back on the mat with wet adhesive, as this will glue that fabric or paper to the mat.
4. “De-stick” the mat
If you find your mat is too sticky after waiting the property time for the glue to set, you may need to “de-stick” it. “De-sticking” is done by using a lint-free cloth, like a microfiber glasses cleaning cloth, and just dabbing it all over. Using a lint-free cloth will remove some of the excess glue on the mat and make it so your materials are repositionable again.
Other Cutting Machine Mats
While these steps specifically address how to clean a Cricut mat, the mats from competitor cutters like Brother ScanNCut or the Silhouette Cameo function in a similar way. These steps can be used with those products as well. Although, make sure to check with each manufacturer’s instructions for any variations.
Let the Crafting Begin Again!
While learning how to clean a Cricut mat will not make it exactly like a new mat, it will buy you a bit more time before a replacement is needed.
Have you ever cleaned a cutting mat? If so, tell us how to clean a Cricut mat using your steps.