Rotary Cutting Mat Care

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by in Sewing Tips

Rotary Cutting Mat CareWhen was the last time any of us have considered the condition of our cutting mat when cutting pieces for our project? Does the subject come up only when the cutting mat has fallen into such a state of disrepair that actually making a straight, clean cut is almost impossible? If you are like most of us, unfortunately we don’t often take time to consider how to make our rotary cutting mats last a little longer. Let us offer just a few pieces of advice that we have learned and you should be able to get a lot of life out of your rotary cutting mat.

Rotary Cutting Mat Basics

The self healing rotary cutting mats are an indispensable too. After using a rotary cutter, the surface of the green self-healing mats will “heal” or close after cutting with a razor sharp rotary cutter thus leaving no visible slice in the mat. There is a practical limit to the amount of slicing and dicing these things can take and eventually will need to be replaced. Keep an eye on the surface and if you begin to see visible marks on the surface it is probably time to consider a replacement. Even if you aren’t seeing surface damage but you are having to push down on the rotary cutter with additional force, for safety sake consider a replacement.

While rotary cutting mats can absorb quite a bit from a rotary cutter, they do not fair as well against other sharp objects. Try to avoid piercing the surface with pins or needles etc. And a not from personal experience, it is a good idea to move the mat or cut in a different location when using scissors. Mats can heal a lot of things, but getting cut in half is not one of them.

Cleaning Rotary Cutting Mats

From time to time there may get to be a mishap, i.e. spilled coffee or the like, that needs a bit of clean up. All that is needed is a lint free cloth (don’t make another mess trying to clean up the first one) and a solution of mild dish washing liquid and water. There are also specific cleaners on the market as well, but a little soap and water seems just as convenient. Just avoid using any harsh cleaning chemicals or liquids especially those that may contain alcohol and/or ammonia.

One other cleaning related item, when you are cutting very linty fabrics (Cuddle for instance) you may notice a little trail of fibers sticking to the mat where you just made a cut. They aren’t stick to the mat as much as they are stuck IN the mat. It is important to clean the fabric bits out of the mat so it can get back to healing the cut. Fibers that are embedded in the mat can be extract with a little bit of friction, use you thumb or finger and rub along the line where the fiber are and the should come right out. A small rubber tool could also be used, just not anything that would leave residue behind, like the pink pencil erasers from the school supply aisle.

Travel and Storage for Rotary Cutting Mats

When transporting a mat, which you will need to do to get it home or if you are taking to class or a retreat, be very conscious to not roll the mat. Rolling a mat will cause the cuts to open up and the mat can crack. Talk about shortening the life of your cutting mats. Along with not rolling the mat up, do your best to keep it out of direct sunlight and avoid extreme temperatures for your mat.

Sunlight will rapidly hasten the break down of the self healing surface on the top of the mat. Avoiding temperature extremes will not expose the mat to being warps, cracked and otherwise disfigured. It is very hard to cut straight on a warped mat.

Rotary Cutting Mat Care Tips

  • Don’t Roll Up Your Mats
  • Avoid Direct Sunlight
  • Stay Clear of Extreme Temperatures
  • Remove Fibers From Cuts
  • Clean Up Messes With A Gentle Soap and Water Solution

We hope you have found a few tips to help you and your rotary cutting mats have many happy days!

  1. Rose Eckley says:

    How do I clean off crayon marks? (I still love my grandchildren)

    1. Sara says:

      Try a Magic Eraser.

  2. Nancy says:

    I am having trouble getting fleece fibers out of my cutting mat. The cutting mat is brand new. I tried using my finger nail to get out the fibers, tried soaking the mat in the tub and pulling at the fibers…nothing is helping. I have fiber approximately ever once inch from cutting the feel ce into strips for tying. Do you have any suggestions for me?


    1. heirloomc says:

      We us a heavy duty scrub brush on mats when we cut fleece or batting.

  3. Jennifer says:

    What is considered extreme temperatures? Like if we turn our house air up to upper 80s while we are on vacation will that be okay?

  4. heather says:

    HI there, I believe my mat is toast, there are a lot of deep marks in it and when I cut it have to apply a lot of pressure and my blade goes dull VERY fast…my question is can I turn the mat over on the other side and maybe draw a few lines, just to make the mat last longer??

    1. Sara says:

      Yes! You can always use the back side of most mats. Eventually we do need to buy new mats and stop being frustrated using old mats.

  5. Betty Robertson says:

    What is the best way to store a cutting mat?

    1. Sara says:

      Flat and away from any heat vents or sunny windows. 🙂

  6. Beth says:

    My mat is the size of my craft table and I haven’t figured out anyway to store it other than rolled up. I don’t roll it tightly but there isn’t anywhere in the house where I can store it flat.
    What is the average life span of a cutting mat? Mine is over 25 years old and I’m wondering if it’s time to replace it.

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Beth,

      It all depends on how how much rotary cutting you do. Treat yourself to a new mat…you deserve it! Under a bed is always a good place to store mats if leaving it out all the time is not an option.

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