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How to Clean Baseball Cards for Grading

how to clean baseball cards for grading

If you are interested in submitting your baseball cards for grading by the PSA, it is important to make sure they are in the best condition possible. You have a better chance at receiving a higher grade when your cards look like they are brand new.

When you look at your cards and see fingerprints or dust particles, you are going to want to get rid of that before you submit your cards for grading. The best way to do this is with a clean microfiber cloth as this will be gentle and will not scratch the card. Think of the cloths that are used for cleaning glasses. If the cloth won’t scratch a lens, it won’t scratch your cards.

Should your card need more than a wipe with a microfiber cloth, you can use a lens cleaner wipe. Like the microfiber cloth, a lens wipe will not scratch the surface of your cards and it won’t leave any residue.

Should I Clean My Cards Before Grading?

Inspecting your cards is a huge part of determining which ones you will send for grading. If you have a card that you think will grade really high, but has a smudge on it, cleaning it might be a good idea. However, if the cards have a layer a dust and dirt, you probably shouldn’t send them for grading.

If there is just a speck or two of dust, you will want to clean the dust off the surface before submitting it. Be extremely careful when handling your cards to prevent adding any fingerprints or other imperfections that can damage your card.

How Do You Clean Old Baseball Cards for Grading?

When you are dealing with older or vintage baseball cards, you are going to want to try to clean their surface some, especially if they have been sitting around for a while. Since these cards are likely going to be more fragile than newer cards, you will need to be more careful during the process. 

If these cards have been sitting around for a while, they are more likely to have some damage and dust build up. There are multiple ways that you can effective clean older sports cards, but the best way is to find something that won’t scratch the surface. This includes things like a microfiber towel, soft sheets, or an old t-shirt. You should use a tester card before using the chosen cloth on all cards.

One of the most effective ways to clean old baseball cards is with Windex. It is gentle and won’t do any damage to the surface of the card. Take your cloth, spray some Windex on it, and let it evaporate some. Wait a few seconds and apply it with circular motions to remove any fingerprints, debris, and dust. 

Corn flour is another fantastic way to clean old baseball cards. It is effective at soaking up any moisture or oils that are on the surface. You can also use baby powder if you don’t have any corn flour. Using a paper bag, add about one cup of flour or baby powder. Add the card and gently shake the bag. Remove it and wipe with a microfiber cloth and you will have a clean card. 

How Do You Prepare Baseball Cards for Grading?

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Before you prepare your baseball cards for grading, you need to make sure you follow all of the guidelines for packaging and sending your cards in. First, each individual card will need to be placed in a protective pouch such as the Card Saver 1. This pouch will need to be sturdy for the grader to remove the card safely. They advise against acrylic cases and screw down cases.

When you pack your order, make sure your cards are placed in the same order that you listed them on your submission form. If you send your cards out of order, you will be charged an extra fee and it will take longer to process.

You should also pack your cards between two pieces of cardboard that are held together with rubber bands. This will protect your cards from getting bent during transit and keep them all in the right order.

Pack your cards in a durable cardboard box with your submission confirmation pages. You will then apply your shipping label to your box, making sure the barcode is visible and not blocked by packing tape.

To check the current price and availability of Card Savers, click here to view them on Amazon.

Does PSA Wipe Cards?

PSA will not wipe your cards. They grade it exactly as it was submitted, and they do not to anything to the card. Make sure you wipe down your cards before sending them to be graded to ensure the best grade possible.

Tips for Getting Higher PSA Grades for Your Baseball Cards

When submitting your cards to PSA for grading, you want them to be in the best condition possible to get the highest grade. In order to get the best results, there are a few tips that you can follow to inspect your cards first. There is no guarantee that these tips will always work, but they are a great place to start.

Inspect with a Magnifying Lamp

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PSA always uses the newest technology available to inspect cards that are sent to them. They check for things like coloring issues, scratches on the surface, fraudulent and fake autographs, reprints, and many other factors. To inspect your cards the same way PSA will, you need access to a black light, magnifying lamp, and a jeweler’s loupe.

This magnifying lamp by Brightech is recommended by the PSA as their magnifying lamp of choice

Use New Grading Candidate Holders

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When you use grading candidate holders and penny sleeves that are brand new, you are protecting them much better than if you put them in old holders. Using holders that are older and have been used before make it easy to miss small things like smudges or printing stains.

When you use new holders, you will be able to see all of these small imperfections that can cost you on the grading scale. You will easily be able to pay for the new sleeves a few times over when you get a higher grade because your cards are kept in a nicer, neater holder.

If you happen to have a jersey or patch card, you need to keep them same in a thick top loader. You can find a thickness gauge online that can help you determine if the card needs to be in a thicker top loader instead of a regular grading candidate holder.

To check the current price and availability of Ultra Pro Penny Sleeves, click here to view their listing on Amazon.

Use Post-It Note Flags

Trying to pull baseball cards out of their sleeves can be incredibly difficult at times. This can be really frustrating for the people that are doing the grading. You want to make their lives a little bit easier when grading your cards, and you can absolutely do that.

Post-It flags will stick right to the penny sleeve for an easy removal of the card from the grading candidate holders. Who knows, you might get some higher grades because they appreciate you for making it easier on them. However, you should never place a Post-It directly on the card, just on the penny sleeve.

Place Your Weakest Card First

Your weakest card is going to be the one you feel will get the lowest grade. These will be the cards you want to get a PSA grade but are clearly not in mint condition. This creates a slight diversion for the person doing the grading. Starting with cards that you know will grade lower will likely lead the grader to score above average cards higher.

Organize Your Submission Form

When you are creating your submission form, do so with the thought in mind that someone is going to have to read it. List your cards in the order you are placing them, such as by set and then by player. Put cards that are the same together.

Listing your cards in order makes it easier for the grader to read the labels. This makes the process go quicker for the PSA and you. Since the PSA grades their cards very carefully, they pay a lot of attention to the actual cards. It will save them time if they can quickly look at your submission form and know exactly what card is coming next.

Throw in Some Dummy Cards

Throwing in a card or two with a visible imperfection, such as a chipped edge or soft corner, is considered a dummy card. They aren’t necessarily the weakest card that was mentioned above, it is just going to be a card that you know isn’t perfect and won’t grade well. 

Final Thoughts

When you send in baseball cards for grading, you want to make sure they are in the best condition possible. In some cases, if your cards have been sitting around for a while, there might be some dirt, dust, or debris on the surface. In this case, you will want to clean your cards before submitting them.

To clean your baseball cards, you need a microfiber cloth. If you can, avoid using any kind of liquid to clean your cards. If you must, it is highly recommended to use the wipes that are used for cleaning glasses. These wipes will be gentle and won’t damage the surface of the card.

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