Spring Stamp Cleaning

inky stamps that need cleaningIt’s Time . . . sigh . . . I am embarrassed to show you this picture really, but these are the stamps I needed to clean today. I always have good intentions to clean my stamps immediately after use, but the reality is that the only stamps I clean right away are usually, 1) the one I need to stamp right away in a different color or a different type of ink, or 2) stamps with acrylic paint on them. (You never want to let acrylic paint dry on a stamp; it’ll create a permanent paint coat over the rubber.)

I’d like to say that I clean my stamps after each project . . . or at least once a week . . . or at least once a month. But I don’t. Usually I am so excited with whatever project I’m working on that I stamp it, set the inky stamp aside, go write about the project, and then forget about the stamp until I’m faced with the cluttered surface of my stamping area the next time I want to stamp. I’ve gotten pretty good about stacking inky stamps with the ink sides together so that I don’t get ink on the index side of the mount or on the table, but eventually, like today, I’m out of space and have to clean the stamps so I can put them away.

Grandma's Secret Rubber Stamps CleanerI’ve tried just about every way of cleaning stamps including scrubby pads, baby wipes and homemade mixtures of Simple Green and water. But if you let your stamps sit with ink on them like I do and have a lot to do at once, a commercial spray stamp cleaner is often your best friend. The one I’ve been reaching for most often lately is Grandma’s Secret Rubber Stamp Cleaner. I’ve found that it really does a good job of cleaning most of even my seriously inky stamps. I also like that it is biodegradable, non-toxic and doesn’t have any alcohol in it that can dry out stamps. These are good things to look for when you are searching for a good stamp cleaner. All the stamps I needed to clean today were rubber. Because commercial stamp cleaners are designed for stamps, they often include additives that will condition the rubber and don’t include things that will hurt them, which are positive things in commercial cleaners’ favor.

Cleaning out the SprayerBecause I hadn’t used my cleaner in a while (obviously), the sprayer had gotten clogged. Usually you can fix this pretty easily by taking the sprayer off the bottle, sticking the straw in a container of warm water you’ve placed in a sink and then spraying water through it until the sprayer works again. Mine was really clogged, so I had to take the top off the sprayer part and run warm water over it for a while. Soaking it in warm water probably would also work. Then I tried spraying water through it again and once that worked, I put the whole thing back together so I could spray my stamps.

Spraying Stamps with CleanerLike most products, to get the best results, you need to follow the directions. As you can see, I placed all my inky stamps ink-side-up on my surface and then sprayed them all with the stamp cleaner. Then I waited a couple minutes to let the cleaner loosen up the ink.

Cleaning Rubber StampUsually I just wipe my stamps with a soft rag, but these had been sitting with ink on them for a while, so I followed the directions and scrubbed them with a damp clean semi-coarse sponge. (I used a new kitchen sponge.) I find circular motions work best to get the cleaner in all the little crevices. You do need to be careful when scrubbing really small stamps or very thin stamps (like one line of text) because if you are too aggressive, you can pull the rubber die off the cushion or the die and cushion off the wood mount. One caution: This process can cause ink spatter onto exposed wood around the rubber edges if your stamp has a lot of ink on it.

Then I wiped the ink off with my soft rag. The directions said to rinse the stamp under the faucet with cold water, but I try not to do that very often with my wood mounted stamps to avoid warping and cushions coming loose. So for most, I simply wiped any excess stamp cleaner off with a clean damp paper towel.

I had a few stamps that were pretty stained so I repeated the process with them, letting the fresh batch of cleaner sit on them a while longer. And I had a couple that I’d stained really well with StazOn ink. For those, I used a bit of a solvent based stamp cleaner to get the ink off and then followed up by cleaning the stamps again to make sure there was no cleaner left on the stamps. (You especially don’t want anything solvent-based on your stamps for long periods if you can help it.)

Clean StampsThe stamps were mostly dry at the end of this process (which took about forty-five minutes), but I set them up on their sides to let them dry the rest of the way. (This way, any left over water won’t just pool in the recesses.) Once they are completely dry, I’ll put them away. Now I’ve got work space back so I can get working on my next eArticle! Yeah!

6 thoughts on “Spring Stamp Cleaning

  1. Thanks Nancie for the tip about Grandma’s Cleaner Secret Stamp Cleaner…will have to get some!
    I presently use 3 different types of cleaners for different types of inks and stamps, I try to preserve the daubers and keep the cleaner clean too. I wipe the excess ink off the stamp first with a napkin, then apply the stamp cleaner, wipe off again with a napkin or rag, and finally use my ‘Technique Tuesday Clear Stamp Scrubber’ to get into all areas of a stamp and dry the surface so the stamp can be put away. I know it sounds like overkill, but my stamps, cleaner daubers, and Scrubber are all CLEAN!
    Paper Hugs,

    1. Jan, I like your tip about wiping off excess ink first. I tend to go straight in with the cleaner, but if the stamp is extra inky, then you get the ink spatter all around the stamp on the underside of the wood mount. I know it doesn’t really matter for how the stamp works, but the spatter looks grungy (and not in a stylish grunge way! Ha!) I think your extra step of wiping the excess ink off first would probably eliminate that, yes?

      I put almost all of those stamps away today. It took a while to get them all back in their homes. I’ve gotta clean these things more frequently! (I had some CHRISTMAS stamps in my to-clean pile! Sheesh!) Of course I’ve inked up a few more stamps today, so I’ve started the inky accumulation all over again! LOL ~ Nancie

  2. Hi, Nancie – so glad to see your new blog. I subscribed immediately, and look forward to your posts. I am thinking about doing one also. SO maybe soon, I’ll have one for you to see.

    1. Sarah, Thanks! I’ll admit to having some jitters about letting people know about starting the blog. It’s actually been interesting and fun to set up the blog. I’m really impressed with WordPress. So far, I’m really liking the way it works. I really want it to be a traditional blog where I write about whatever I’m doing creatively rather than straight articles. So some posts will probably be quick and (because I am naturally wordy!) some will probably be long and rambling. I probably won’t write every day, especially if I have an eArticle deadline looming, but I plan to blog at least a few times a week. Anyway, I’m liking it so far. Thanks for hanging out with me! ~Nancie

  3. I’m shocked Nancie! Dirty stamps!?! Tsk tsk;) Just kidding, it is nice to know that you can reclaim them but I keep an old bath towel over my chair and a bottle of homemade stamp leaner on my desk and spray and wipe after I stamp because when I was a beginner I let some pigment ink dry on a very detailed background and never could remove it thourighy and it n longer stamped as well but you probably use mostly dye ink if I recall your work correctly;)

    1. Lindsay, LOL. I keep making resolutions (and honestly do have good intentions) to clean my stamps much more regularly, but it never seems to stick. But in my defense, when the inky stamps are out, I do tend to use them more (because they are right at hand) and I find I come up with more ideas for using them.

      Yes, most of the time I use either Ranger Archival or Memento and sometimes StazOn. I do use pigment, but reach for dye more often.

      What’s in your homemade cleaner? Do you have a blog post on your blog about it? If you do, you are welcome to post the link here. (Your blog always has good stuff in it!) ~Nancie

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