Bath Time

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.

cutting boardThe 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.

mats in tub

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.


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6 responses to “Bath Time

  1. I have found a similar post on the web and also tried to pamper my old cutting mat (6 years). I made the same experience as you – the mat has less lint, but otherwise no big improvement. So I got a new one for cutting only fabrics and left the old one for cutting quilt sandwiches or pieces of wadding. Barbora

    • Thanks for letting me know you experience was similar to mine. I think sometimes quilting solutions acquire an undeserved reputation for effectiveness. At least no one is selling a product to add to bath water for this purpose…yet.

  2. I’ve heard that helps, too. I thought, if nothing else, wiping it down with a rough, damp rag now and then would pull a lot of the bits of lint out of the cracks. I do that, actually. As to healing those cracks, it may be worth the experiment to get it quite damp (on my cutting table) and leave it overnight, wiping off any remaining water in the morning.

    I have a newer mat of a different brand. It’s in better shape but I don’t like it much. The surface is a little slicker, which isn’t a compliment. However I may switch back to it at least for a while, anyway. Deciding to shell out bucks for a new mat seems like a hard thing to do. But it is a tool we use everyday, so I’m not sure what the hesitation is.

  3. Pam

    This absolutely would never have crossed my mind. If I could repair that one serious groove I’ve managed to carve in my mat, I would be a lot happier. Until then I’m saving my coinery for a new mat (I think I bought mine at the same time you did).

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