When I published the French Bond Stencil pattern a couple of weeks ago, I emphasized how important it is to use a sticky mat. If the stencil material doesn’t stay stuck to your mat during cutting, the cut pieces can come up and get stuck on your blade so it can’t make the next cut. In addition, for very narrow cuts, if the stencil material moves around even the slightest amount, it can deform the stencil cuts. Taping the stencil material down is not sufficient, you have to have a sticky mat. Yet if you have TOO sticky a mat, good luck ever getting that stencil off the mat. I speak from experience – I tried cutting one on a brand new purple mat. I never could get that stencil off.
I belong to several paper crafting groups on Facebook, and the question of how to keep your mats sticky comes up over and over again. This is of particular interest to those of us who use cardboard or cardstock to make our 3D houses. One of the reasons I prefer to use white Kraft Board or Cover Cardstock is it sheds less than kraft chipboard, but all paper products leave a little bit of residue on the mat every time we use it. People who only cut vinyl can have clean mats a lot longer than the rest of us. And don’t get me started on double sided glitter cardstock!
Over time I have developed 3 steps I use to keep my mats sticky or to re-stick my mats. I’ve tried many other suggestions I have read about online, but these three steps work for me consistently. I no longer have to throw away my mats, except when they are so old and I have used them so many times that they begin to crack.
How To Re-Stick Your Machine Cutting Mats Specific Materials
- Alcohol Free Baby Wipes. If you buy them in a canister and put your wipe back in after use, you can usually re-use your wipe several times. Conversely, you can buy the packs of baby wipes at the dollar store and put them in a recycled plastic jar.
- A gentle dish detergent like Dawn Dish Soap and and a plastic hard bristle dish brush
- Crafty Products Sticky Mat Adhesive and a kitchen scrubby sponge
- If you really need to buy new mats, I recommend the Nicapa Brand. I have been quite pleased at the quality. I used to love the Cricut mats that came with a flower pattern on them, but when they switched to the new brand without the flower, I have been dismayed at the quality.
My 3 Steps to Always Having Sticky Mats
Step 1: Baby Wipes
I clean my mat with baby wipes after EVERY use. It is the little bits of paper residue left from our cardboard or cardstock that builds up on the mat and makes it less sticky very quickly. By cleaning my mat with a baby wipe using a circular motion over the entire mat and then letting dry for 10 minutes, I can maintain the sticky and defer needing to move to Step 2 for quite a while.
Step 2: Dishwashing Liquid and Dish Scrubber
At some point the baby wipes will no longer be sufficient to completely clean your mats. At this point, I take my mats to the laundry sink and run lukewarm water over them while gently scrubbing in a circular motion with a plastic hard-bristled dish brush and gentle dish detergent (I use Dawn.) If they are particularly dirty I will soak the mat for around 5 minutes before scrubbing. Rinse thoroughly, and hang until dry. Don’t ever scrub too hard, and don’t do this with your pink mats. Using Step 1 and 2 can keep your mats sticky for a long time. Eventually however, even this method will fail to keep your material stuck to the mat.
Step 3: Re-Stick Your Mats with Crafty Products Sticky Mats Adhesive
If you have never heard of Crafty Products Sticky Mats Adhesive, it is because it is made in the UK. I have been using it successfully for several years, but I had to buy it off of Ebay and wait for it to be delivered, and at least one shipment went astray. Just recently US based Hobbylinc started carrying this adhesive. Before I discovered Crafty Products Adhesive, I tied all sorts of re-sticking products that had been suggested online: Aleene’s Tack It Over and Over, various adhesive sprays, and Zig Two Way Glue. This works SO much better than anything else I’ve tried.
Before using the adhesive, I always clean my mats using Step 2 above. You do NOT have to strip your mats with an adhesive remover. Once the mat is dry, I drizzle a small amount of the Crafty Products adhesive onto the mat (shake the bottle first!), and then use the scrubby side of my sponge to gently spread the adhesive to all the corners of my mat, making sure I stay within the area where you put your cardstock. I usually spread over one half of my mat, and then the other half. The instructions on the bottle say to use a dry kitchen sponge, but I found little bits of my sponge was left on my mat. Spreading with the scrubby side eliminates that. Let dry 20 minutes, and you are good to go.
I find the mats that I have made sticky again with the Crafty Products adhesive actually retain their adhesive power longer than the original adhesion of new mats. The Crafty Products adhesive must be self-leveling, as I don’t get the clumpy bumps like I did with the Zig Two Way Glue, and I don’t have to worry about adhesive getting on my rollers like I did with the spray adhesive. And the adhesive stays sticky longer than it did with Aleene’s Tack It Over and Over. One bottle of Crafty Products Sticky Mats Adhesive also goes a long way and lasts quite a while.
I mostly use only green mats, so I haven’t tried using this adhesive on blue or purple mats. The bottle says to put on two layers the first time you re-stick your mat, but I have always used just one and that has been sufficient. I suppose for a purple mat you could use two layers, and for a blue mat apply more sparingly.
A Few Last Tips:
I always put my plastic protective cover back on my mat as soon as I have finished using it and wiping it down with a baby wipe. I also hang my mats on a hook near my machine instead of stacking them. I can’t tell if this is better than stacking them flat, but it works for me.
If you have dogs like I do, you may need to use a lint roller on your mats before wiping them down with baby wipes or washing them. I currently have five dogs living with me and dog hair is a persistent problem that gets everywhere no matter how often I vacuum!
If you are going to use glitter cardstock, felt, or anything else that sheds a lot, place a piece of contact paper on top of your mat, sticky side up, they lay your material on that. This makes it a lot easier to later clean your mat.
That’s it! If you are having problems getting your cardboard, cardstock, vellum or stencil material to cut correctly, always clean and/or re-stick your mats. This will eliminate most problems.