Next to my bobbin case, my iron probably collects the most dirt and grime. How you ask? Starch and fusible collect on my iron like hair in the shower drain. Disgusting analogy, but pretty accurate. My rulers have a collection of fingerprints, which mean I am transferring oils from my fingers to the ruler, which in turn could transfer them to my fabric. They also have a little glue residue from tape used to highlight piece sizes. Finally, my cutting mat collects fusible, lint, threads and other bits of dirt throughout the year. All of these should be cleaned as often as necessary. Since the new year is a clean slate, why not start with clean tools too?
Let’s go over the iron issue first. Each iron manufacturer has cleaning instructions for their products. Mine is pretty simple, don’t use harsh abrasives. Empty the water after use. If using starch, wipe the iron routinely with a damp cloth. If scale (salt) builds up in the iron, use the self-clean cycle to steam it out. Since I also use fusible, which occasionally finds its way onto my iron. Waiting until the iron is cool, I then use a magic eraser or nylon bath scrubby to remove any adhesive.
If you have been unfortunate enough to have something burn onto your iron, you may need to use a special cleaner to remove it. These are generally available at any craft or fabric shop. They involve smearing the paste onto a hot iron and then wiping it off. These products work well, but really smell. Therefore, I recommend waiting for a day when you can open the windows to use it.
For your rulers, I recommend using an alcohol wipe to remove ink, chalk, glue, or fusible. Use a disinfecting wipe to remove fingerprints and other grime. Then, dry it with a microfiber cloth.
Cutting mats really need a routine bath. Just like us, a soak in the tub helps revive its skin. A little soap and water will remove impurities from the mat. When that dirt is gone and the fibers are “plumped up” again, the mat will heal better after cutting. A routine bath keeps these mats healthy and lasting longer.
These little touches will extend the life of your tools.