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How To Clean Plastic Playing Cards

Friends enjoying a home poker game

TL;DR: Learn how to effectively clean plastic playing cards for enhanced durability and hygiene during games. 

  • Plastic vs. Paper: Plastic cards are more durable and easier to clean compared to paper cards. 
  • Cleaning Paper Cards: Avoid liquids; use a dry powder method for absorbing moisture. 
  • Cleaning Plastic Cards: Wipe with a damp towel; avoid dishwashers to prevent damage. 

Playing cards for poker and many other card games go through a lot of handling. They pass from player to player, come in close contact with other cards, and are regularly shuffled. 

Whether you’re playing Texas Hold’Em for the first time or have thousands of games under your belt, you might be wondering how to clean your playing cards — or even if you can clean them at all. 

The answers to those questions depend on what type of playing cards you buy and use. Let’s take a closer look. 

Can You Clean Paper Playing Cards? 

Paper playing cards are normally made of paper and have a clear plastic or similar coating on the front and back. That coating doesn’t extend to the edge of the card. That’s the simplest explanation of why you can’t and shouldn’t clean paper playing cards with any kind of liquid. 

While you can wipe away smudges and liquid with a dry paper towel, more intensive cleaning isn’t recommended. Water and liquid cleaning products will seep into the exposed edge and quickly cause damage to paper playing cards.  

However, Good Housekeeping does recommend a dry cleaning method for paper playing cards. This method won’t preserve paper playing cards forever, but it can help them last longer. 

In essence, you can put your cards in a plastic bag with an absorbent powder, like cornstarch or talcum powder. Then, seal the bag and shake. Finally, wipe the cards off with a dry paper towel.  

So, if you get liquid on paper playing cards, the best bet is to wipe it away as quickly as possible. More intensive cleaning, which in this case means just wiping them down with a wet paper towel, means either pulling out a new deck or pausing your game until you can find one. 

Can You Clean Plastic Playing Cards? 

Plastic playing cards are generally superior to paper playing cards. While no playing card can last forever because of wear and tear, plastic cards don’t have any paper in them. That means they’ll stand up better to handling, shuffling, and being passed back and forth during your games. 

Plastic playing cards last a long time compared to paper cards. They’re easy to clean with a damp paper towel or damp cloth. 

Wondering how to clean dirty playing cards? With plastic cards, the process is simple and easy.  

All you have to do is take your damp paper towel or cloth and wipe away any debris or residue from the cards. You can use the same powder-in-bag method described for paper playing cards to dry them off. Once you’re done, they’ll be as good as new! 

One last piece of advice: Don’t stick your plastic playing cards in the dishwasher. Even though some plastics are dishwasher safe, plastic playing cards aren’t designed for the very hot water or the detergent used in dishwashers. 

Looking for high-quality plastic playing cards? Chips and Games has you covered! Check out our full range of plastic playing cards for durable, easy-to-clean cards you can count on. 

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