How to Clean Plastic Playing Cards

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The good news is that plastic playing cards can be cleaned when the need arises (accidents do happen). But, too much of a good thing can quickly become a bad thing. So occasional cleaning is fine; but, frequent unnecessary cleaning is not recommended for plastic playing cards.

Proper cleaning begins with the use of cold water only! You may be able to clean your plastic playing cards without the use of any soap, you should try this first. Begin by gently rubbing both sides of a few plastic cards with a non-abrasive soft clean damp cloth. When you are sure the deck has been sufficiently cleaned, give them a quick rinse in a clean bucket of cold water, then you may proceed to drying them with a soft, clean, dry cloth (do not use paper towels for this step). The final step is to spread out the individual cards on a bath towel in a well-ventilated shaded area until completely air dry. Remember to turn the plastic cards over to allow the other side to dry. Most of the time this method of 'water only' cleaning will be sufficient to return your deck to top condition.

If you find your plastic playing cards require more cleaning, you can repeat the above procedure using a small amount of mild (non acidic/non alkaline) soap like Dove. After cleaning with soap, be sure to completely rinse the soap residue off with clean water.

No set of cleaning instructions would be complete without mentioning a few things to avoid. Do not do anything silly like putting your plastic cards in the dishwasher or clothes washer. Your favorite deck will thank you to avoid washing them in warm, hot, or boiling water! Never use chemical cleaners, or solvents, to clean your playing cards (that would be a big mistake!). Of course you must resist the urge to speed up the drying process by using hair dryers, microwave ovens (or heat sources of any kind), and you should never allow your plastic playing cards to sit in direct sunlight. Lastly, do not stack the cards until completely dry on both sides.

The best piece of advice may be to keep your cards clean in the first place, so don't be afraid to ask players to show up at the game with clean hands! Another solid piece of advice is to avoid serving oily snacks (like peanuts or potato chips) at the table. The oils can quickly transfer to the cards, which will make them sticky.

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