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Why Do Card Sleeves Get Dirty?

why do card sleeves get dirty

Most card sleeves get dirty because they are stored in improper conditions i.e. in a place where it is incredibly dusty, or perhaps because somebody is eating or drinking while using their cards.

It can also go a long way to ensure that your hands are nice and clean before you play with your trading cards. This is because the grease from your fingers can appear on the card sleeves.

Let’s expand on this a little bit. This way you know exactly how to keep your card sleeves from getting dirty, as well as the issues that could occur if they are dirty.

How Do I Stop My Card Sleeves From Getting Dirty?

it isn’t that difficult to stop your card sleeves from getting dirty.

The best thing that you do is ensure that your sleeves are not stored in dusty conditions. We recommend keeping them in a binder or a box of some sort.

Of course, you should also try to ensure that you are not eating or drinking around the card sleeves.

In the vast majority of cases, this is going to deal with most of the reasons why card sleeves get dirty.

How Do You Clean Dirty Card Sleeves?

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In an ideal world, you wouldn’t.

It is very rare that you have a sleeve that is so expensive that it is not worth replacing. In fact, many card sleeve packets will come with a few sleeves extra so you have replacements to hand. We like to buy our card sleeves in bulk. This way we always have some spares kicking around.

There are two problems with cleaning your sleeves:

  • You could damage the sleeve beyond repair, which could damage the trading card.
  • You could damage the sleeve in such a way that it is now ‘marked’ and cannot be used in competition.

If you really insist that you should be cleaning your trading card sleeves, then there is only one real method that you can use. We have seen several other methods online, but these methods are just overblown and probably would end up damaging the card.

To begin with, you are going to want to remove the trading card from the sleeve. If you leave it inside, then you run the risk of it being damaged. Of course, try to remove it as carefully as you can.

Now, take a small amount of water on a microfiber cloth and gently brush away the dirt. Try to ensure that you do not get any water into the opening of the card sleeve. If that happens, then you may as well throw it away. It is now useless.

Now, you can just leave the card sleeve to dry. Once it is dry, and you are sure that it is dry, you can add the card back into the sleeve.

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How Long Do Card Sleeves Last?

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There isn’t really a set amount of time for how long card sleeves will last. This solely depends on the amount of use that your card sleeves will undergo on a weekly basis.

If you are using your trading cards for hours and hours per day, several days per week, then you may expect your card sleeves to last a couple of weeks to a few months.

If you are just using the card sleeves to protect your cards for future trading, then you can expect them to last years. In fact, they could feasibly last forever.

In our experience, most people will replace their card sleeves every few months.

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How Do You Know When to Replace Your Card Sleeves?

To be honest, you just know when you should probably be replacing your card sleeves.

As we said before, it is probably going to be in your best interests to swap out that card sleeve when they get dirty. You can wash them but only do that if the card sleeves are extra special to you for some reason. We seriously doubt that they are. If they are, then you probably wouldn’t be playing with the card sleeves at all. This means that you would never have to worry about replacing them. 

In our experience, the first sign that card sleeves need to be replaced is if they do not shuffle as smoothly as they did in the past. When you purchase trading card sleeves, they may be a little bit sticky at the start. This is the nature of trading card sleeves.

However, as you play about with them, quality card sleeves will start to have a bit more of a decent shuffle feel to them. As the card sleeves get older, it becomes harder and harder to shuffle the cards. This means that they will need to be replaced. 

You should also replace the card sleeves if they start to become a little bit wrinkled. At that point, it is going to be tough to shuffle the cards. This means that you may end up damaging them as the wrinkles start to snag on one another.

It is absolutely vital that you replace the card sleeves as soon as they become marked. So, if the card could potentially be identified from the back due to the sleeve that it is in,it is important that you replace the card sleeve. You won’t be able to play with them at all.

What Can You Do With Old Card Sleeves?

You have a couple of options available to you.

Some people will just recycle them. A good number of sleeves should be recyclable. You will need to check the product packaging for your card sleeves to see if that is the case, but most decent sleeves should be recyclable nowadays. You will be able to put this in with your standard plastic recycling.

If you play Friday Night Magic, particularly drafts, then you may find that there are a lot of people that will actually use their old sleeves for drafts. It means that you are not wasting quality sleeves on poor-quality cards, but it also means that you will be able to get a small amount of protection for any rare cards that you somehow manage to draw while you are drafting.

We like to use old card sleeves to sleeve up playsets of trading cards i.e. a set of 4 cards. It works best for both the common and the uncommon cards where it doesn’t really matter too much whether they become damaged. All you need to know is that they have a little bit of protection.

Of course, the choice is yours. We promise you, though. Unless that card sleeve has been torn to shreds or it is incredibly filthy, you probably will be able to do something with it. 

Final Thoughts

It isn’t that difficult to prevent your cards from getting dirty. As long as you keep your cards away from food and drink, then it shouldn’t be that much of an issue. If you are going to be handling your cards extensively, then ensure that you wash your hands before.

Ideally, you will replace your card sleeves when they get dirty. However, if this isn’t an option, a small amount of water applied to the outside of the sleeve should do the trick.

Remember, you should always be checking the card sleeves to ensure they are not marked in any way by the dirt. If they are, you can’t play with them. 

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