Last weekend I gave my big Olfa cutting mats a bath. Thanks to Pinterest I came across a post about soaking cutting mats in vinegar and cool water to rehydrate them. I had old mats, white vinegar, and a bathtub so I thought, why not?
My older large mat was purchased so long ago it cost only $41.50, according to the price tag on the back. Nowadays JoAnn’s sells that size for $69.99 before any discount. I realize there are many other retail sources that charge less, but I recall that my newer mat cost at least $15 more than my first one. Of course I used a coupon.
I use my mats almost daily so they get lots of abuse. They’ve also been treated to some paint splashes and glue overruns. I think the most damage done to them was caused by an XActo knife.
The largest tub in my house takes up way too much space in the master bath. It’s a corner whirlpool number with a large window right above it so the neighbors can enjoy the sight of me rising from my bath.
But I’ll leave the functional design discussion to another time. I was ready to soak my mats after I cleaned the dust from my tub by standing in the middle of it and running water over the surfaces. I put four gallons of cool water in the tub, added one quarter cup of white vinegar for each gallon, and slid my mats in.
After 10 minutes I flipped the mats to make sure all parts got a soak. After another 10 minutes I added a squirt of blue Dawn dishwashing liquid to the tub and gently went over the mats with an old bottle brush. The directions call for a soft brush like one used to clean mushrooms. I didn’t even know there were mushroom brushes so I used what I had that seemed soft. After a final rinse I put the mats on towels to dry.
Do the mats seem better now? There are fewer little bits of lint stuck in cuts, but what I thought was a big piece of lint was actually a deep cut down to the white layer of the mat. I wonder what made that.
Honestly, I don’t really see much difference in the mats except they’re less dusty. I think mine have so many cuts they’re beyond self-healing. At least my tub got clean.
My takeaway is the best thing you can do to preserve your mats is make sure you don’t use them as an ironing surface, even with a towel on top. And if you do this, immediately put your mat on the floor, put heavy books on top of the raised up area, and cross your fingers.