How To Clean Board Games

How To Clean Board Games

As board games get old, they can start to get dirty and look as though they’re destined for the garbage. Regular cleaning is a good idea to keep them in top condition but you need to careful. Here we’ll look at how you can restore your game to its original glory.

The best way to clean a board game is with a soap and vinegar solution with a minimum amount of water. However, different materials require different solutions and we’ll go through all of that here.

Board Game Cleaning Methods


What you need

Using soap and vinegar can be a very effective method of cleaning a board game but you need to be careful. Using too much water and solution can cause water damage or affect the finish of the box. As well the soap and vinegar you need warm water and a sponge.


Cleaning the outside

The outside of the box will often need the most care. It’s best to spot test one area of the box to ensure that rubbing it with a sponge isn’t going to affect the finish. When wiping down the box, it should be done with an absolute minimum amount of water and soap. 

Once you’ve finished cleaning then you should dry it down with a cloth or paper. You don’t want to dry it in direct sunlight as this could fade the finish on the box.

After you’ve wiped down the box then you want to move onto the pieces inside. The way they need to be cleaned will depend on their material. 


Inside the box

The first step that you want to take is vacuuming the inside of the box and all of its contents. You don’t want to suck up and pieces and therefore it’s best to do this carefully and with a brush attachment. Make sure to get into the corners and try to lift dirt that may be sitting there. 

For the plastic pieces inside the box, you want to clean them with soapy water and the sponge. It’s best to do it in a circular motion and ensure that the sponge isn’t too abrasive. If the stains are too stubborn to remove with soapy water then you can use vinegar which is going to be more effective. 

Wooden pieces shouldn’t be cleaned against the grain and also you have to be mindful of what type of finish they have. If the wood is exposed then you need to ensure that you’re not getting it too wet as this could make it swell and damage it. 

When you’re cleaning, you want to be careful with any decoration on the pieces such as numbers or letters. If these start to fade when you are cleaning then you want to stop immediately. You always want to start small and then build from there.


Coated paper

If you have coated paper, such as playing cards, then you’ll want to use the minimum amount of water. A lot of them will have a wax-like surface which can be eaten away with aggressive cleaning. A slightly damp cloth should be enough to clean off any stains. 

If you have anything stuck to the coated paper then you should try and pick it off and this can often be carefully completed with a razor. Another useful trick is to use a pencil eraser as this can be great for removing marks and blemishes.


Board Game Maintenance

Whenever you clean your board you want to ensure that everything has fully dried before putting it back. Water damage can not only affect the cardboard but it can also discolor the finish of the game and ruin its look. 

You should also store the game somewhere that is relatively dust-free. You don’t want any dust to settle on the game for long periods and therefore if you don’t play with your games regularly then it’s a good idea to wipe them down now and again.

If you’re worried about the board game developing a musky smell then a great tip is to place some sheets of fabric softener or perfumed cloth inside the box. This ensures a pleasant scent the next time you open it up.

Whenever you’re cleaning or maintaining your game you want to do so with clean hands. You don’t want to transfer any dirt or grime onto your hands when you start cleaning them. If you get any grease onto the box then it can be almost impossible to remove. 


Frequently Asked Questions


How do you clean board game cards?

Cards will either be made from plastic or coated paper. Plastic cards are much easier to clean as they are tough and durable. Paper cards should be wiped down with a slightly damp cloth and immediately dried afterward to avoid water damage.


How do you remove mold from a board game?

One of the best ways to remove mold from board games is with denatured alcohol. A minimal amount of this should be used as too much would game the card. A solution such as Lysol can also be used but you have to careful not to ruin any finish. 


How do you get the musty smell out of a board game?

Mold and mildew are the main causes of that musty smell. The first step is to clean the box and remove any mold. If there is any lingering smell after that then the likes of sheets of fabric softener will give you a nice smell when you open the box again


How do you disinfect dice?

If you’re wondering how do you sanitize cards or disinfect dice then they best way is to use a disinfectant solution and gently wipe them. More durable components such as plastic metal parts can be dipped in a solution as this will sanitize them instantly.

If you were looking for a solution that didn’t include any liquid then you could use UV rays. Leave your components outside and let the sun do the rest. Doing this with any artwork such as the box cover can make it fade and therefore this solution is ideal for durable components. 

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