It’s so frustrating when a project gets shredded by your Cricut machine because your cutting mat wasn’t clean or sticky enough. It’s especially important – especially when you’re cutting intricate designs – that your cutting surface is free of any fragments of paper or cardstock (or any other cutting material).
Of course, ultimately you’ll need to get new Cricut cutting mats, but you should be able to get a bit of life out of your mats by cleaning them regularly. A very important thing to note though (i.e. disclaimer!!): Cricut don’t recommend cleaning any of the mats with anything. Simply cleaning the mats can strip the adhesive or colour from a mat (in which case, Cricut will not replace it as it would a normal defective mat) and, secondly, using a mat that doesn’t stick properly due to being cleaned can cause materials to dislodge and jam in your Cricut. This may cause your machine to malfunction, and if it’s due to you not following Cricut’s recommendations then your warranty may be void.
However, if you’re willing to bear these risks in mind and proceed then the method(s) you use should depend on:
- the type of mat – this one is especially important!
- how much stuff is stuck to your mat
- the condition of the mat.
First of all – the type of mat. The reason this is important is because using the wrong method can ruin your mat – which is bad enough in itself, but using a mat that’s not worked can damage your machine and even void its warranty if you’ve not followed recommended methods. So – when you are following any of the methods below, please pay attention to the type of mat they’re recommended for. The main thing to bear in mind, though, is that you really shouldn’t apply any cleaning products to the pink mat (for cutting fabric), which is far more fragile than its counterparts. As such, you should follow the method we outline in our first category:
These are the only methods you should use to clean the pink fabric mat, but you can use them on any of the other mats:
- Run a lint roller over the mat to remove fragments of materials you’ve used
- Apply painter’s tape to the mat and pull fragments off this way
- Use the Cricut brayer and scraper tool (I find the XL Scraper especially good for this)
These methods can be used on the other Cricut mats – whether green, blue or lilac – but please be aware of the colour of your mat and the design on it. If you use the light cleaning methods gently, then you can use them on all the mats aside from the pink one.
- Baby wipes (ones that don’t contain alcohol will be safest)
- Clorox wipes (these contain alcohol so there is some risk)
- Lysol wipes (these also contain alcohol).
Method: It’s not hard to figure this one out – simply wipe your mat, rubbing more vigorously on any stubborn fragments of material.
- Dish soap or washing up liquid – that’s something like Dawn in the US, or Fairy Liquid in the UK.
Method: Add 2 or 3 drops to some warm water. Apply and clean with a scrubber or scourer with an abrasive but fairly soft surface (i.e. so it’ll clean but it won’t take the glue off – don’t use those metal ones you use to on crockery and metal kitchen utensils!). If you’re struggling to get the mat clean, then the Cricut scraper (especially the larger green one) can be a godsend – immerse the mat in water and scrape it along the surface.
Once this is complete, rinse with water and allow to air dry – or, if you’re impatient, get the hairdryer out (though don’t position it too close to your mat!)
More heavy-duty cutting mat cleaning:
Long-term users of Cricut mats will know that the mats have changed a bit in recent times. They used to be more pungent and have a floral pattern on them. It’s not recommended that you clean the newer (i.e. non-floral) mats with any of these methods. However, if:
- Your mat is green and has flowers on or
- Your mat is really finished and the only way forward is to restick it
…then the following can be used to clean it up. Please note: These are likely (or almost guaranteed, if you’re using a blue or lilac mat, or a green mat that doesn’t have the flower pattern on it) to remove some of the adhesive from the mat. Some users even report that it’s removed adhesive from the older green mats with the flowers, so apply with caution, and only if you’re ready to move onto the next stage of ‘resticking’ your mat!
In the US:
In the UK:
- Elbow Grease
Method: Spray your mat, leave it for a few minutes, and then scrub vigorously. Some users recommend these methods for general cleaning of mats, but as I say, many don’t. I’m absolutely not recommending them so it’s at your own risk if you want to copy, but I will say that I do clean my mats (all except the pink ones) with the more ‘heavy duty’ methods (usually Elbow Grease, as I’m in the UK)…and find that they do retain stickiness for a good amount of time – usually. My experience, though, is that mats can vary massively – some seem to last for a long time (admittedly this tends to be those with the flowers on) and whereas others don’t. One lilac mat I had lost part of its surface as I peeled the plastic off for the first time! Some of it is just luck.
If your mat is clean but has lost its stick:
Some people have recommended using Stampin’ Up Stamping Mist (applied with a paper towel and applied with a small, circular, cleaning motion across the mat) to both clean and restick at the same time!
However, it’s not the easiest thing to get your hands on – I certainly don’t come across it often, so I use other methods to make my mats adhesive and usable again. I’ll go through them in detail in my next article: How to Restick a Cricut Cutting Mat.
Of course there’s a point when your mat splits or snaps or just can’t take any more crafting – that’s the sad moment to retire it with dignity and get yourself some new Cricut mats!