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How to Clean Magic the Gathering Cards

how to clean magic the gathering cards

If you play with your Magic: The Gathering cards regularly, then sooner or later they are going to get dirty. Is it possible to remove that filth? Well, that is what we are going to talk about on this page.

So, how do you clean Magic: The Gathering cards? In an ideal world, you wouldn’t. Any sort of cleaning is going to cause damage. If you have little choice, then a microfiber cloth will help. If that still doesn’t work, the slightly dampening the cloth can probably get rid of most dirt.

Let us explain, in-depth, how you can clean your trading cards, as well as give a few reasons why you should probably avoid it.

How Do You Prevent Your Magic: The Gathering Cards From Getting Dirty?

The prevention is always going to be better than the cure. Therefore, it is probably best to avoid getting dirt onto your Magic: The Gathering cards in the first place.

The easiest way to do this is to make sure that you always use card sleeves for any cards that you are planning to play with. This will help to protect your cards from the vast majority of problems. You certainly won’t be able to get grease and the like over them.

If you double sleeve your cards, and this is something that you really should be doing with your play deck, then you will barely be getting any dust on them either.

Even if you are putting together cheap decks, we still suggest that you use penny sleeves. While you won’t want to be using penny sleeves in a proper tournament session, you can use them for a bit of Kitchen Magic (i.e. playing at home with your friends). Penny sleeves are not good to shuffle in the slightest, but they certainly do help to protect those cards just a little bit.

Should You Remove Dirt From Magic: The Gathering Cards?

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Unless the card is easily identifiable when you are playing with the card in your deck, you probably shouldn’t clean it. Well, at least if it is particularly filthy. This is because your cleaning efforts will likely end up ruining the card. 

Even if you are planning on sending your card in for PSA grading, we wouldn’t recommend that you do anything other than a light brush down with a microfiber cloth. Sure, dirt is going to bring down the value of the card a little bit. You certainly won’t be getting anywhere close to the top PSA grade. However, if it seems like you have done some restorative work to the card, then the PSA grade will fall even further.

Remember, once you start getting into the removal of thicker amounts of just, then you are likely going to need to use water. You probably do not need us to tell you that placing water onto a piece of cardboard is never a great idea. Now, if you use the smallest amount of water possible, then you may be able to get away with it.

If you use too much, then your card is going to end up warping. If your trading card ends up warping, then you will not be able to use it while you are playing Magic: The Gathering. This is because the card is now going to be identifiable in that deck.

We recommend only using a high quality microfiber cloth to minimize chances of damaging your cards. This microfiber cloth from Amazon will do a great job at cleaning your cards without leaving scratches or marks.

What if The Dirt is on the Back of the Magic: The Gathering Card?

We wouldn’t even bother to remove dirt on the back of the Magic: The Gathering card. Not unless you are getting the card graded by PSA, at least.

The back of the card is not really going to detract from your enjoyment of the card.

That being said, if you are planning on playing with cards that are dirty on the back, then you are going to need to make sure that you are using opaque sleeves. This is because any dirt on the back of a card is going to be considered to be card marking. This is because the dirt could potentially be identifiable.

This means that your card sleeves are going to need to cover up that dirt to ensure that you can never know what card you are going to be drawing next from your deck.

How Do You Get Dirt off Magic the Gathering Cards?

If you have no choice but to attempt to get the dirt off of your Magic: The Gathering cards, then there are a couple of routes that you can go down here.

The first option, and the one that we suggest that you start off with, is to lightly brush with a microfiber cloth. This type of cloth should help to lift up the dirt, but it is not going to leave any material behind. It is also going to be rather soft for the card. This means that the chances of there being any surface damage are smaller.

It may still create micro scratches, but it is not going to be anything too intense that will detract from the look of the card. However, you do have to bear in mind that you cannot push down hard with the microfiber cloth at all. 

If that doesn’t seem to work, then we suggest that you add the smallest amount of water possible to the microfiber cloth. We mean a small amount. It should barely be wet. You can then use this to brush the surface of the card. This may do a slightly better job at removing that filth.

We have seen some people claim that using chemicals is great. It is not. It is actually going to remove the ink on the card. This is going to cause it to fade.

If you are planning on using water for your card, then make sure that you allow it to dry out naturally. You should not be placing that card into a sleeve until it has completely dried. Well, not unless you want to be ruining that card even further.

Using Windex

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A common household product that many homes have is Windex. Windex and been used to clean both Magic the Gathering and Pokemon cards. It’s great at getting off fingerprints, and small dust or dirt marks.

To use, just spray a small amount of Windex on a microfiber cloth. Gently wipe off any fingerprints or dirt marks. Windex evaporates fairly quickly which will leave your card shiny and dry.

To check the current price and availability of Windex, click here to view it on Amazon.

Can Dirt Impact the PSA Value of Your Card?

It depends.

If it is just a light dusting that can be removed by one of the people in the grading process, then probably not. Remember, while they ask you to send the cards to them in a card saver, the card is eventually going to be removed from that card saver. They may be able to brush away a small amount of dust, but that is it.  If the dust hasn’t had an impact on the face of the card, then great! 

If the dirt cannot be removed with a gentle brush away, or the dirt has really ingrained itself into the card then, yes, this is something that is going to be impacting the value of the card completely. It may even knock it down a grade or two, depending on how much damage has been caused to the actual card. Basically, you should probably not be expecting more than a PSA 6 or PSA 7 for even the slightest damage.

Final Thoughts

Prevention is always going to be better than the cure. You should try to avoid getting your cards dirty, to begin with. This means using high-quality card sleeves to protect your cards.

If you must clean your cards, then use microfiber cloth and nothing else. Do not use chemicals. You can, potentially, use a bit of water if the dirt is really ingrained onto that card, but that is it.

Ideally, you would never clean your cards if you are planning on getting your cards graded by PSA. Dirty cards achieve higher grades than cards that have been restored. 

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