Cricut mats are a great way to precisely hold your material as the machine cuts it.
But when the stickiness of your mat starts to fade, you don’t always want to have to buy a new one just to get that stickiness back.
The good news is that in many cases, buying a new mat is only a last resort.
Cricut mats are reusable, as long as you keep them clean as you use them. Even if debris builds up on the mat, you can remove it and continue to use that mat. There are other methods of making a Cricut mat sticky again, too, and if all else fails, there’s always the option of investing in a new one.
How Long Do Cricut Mats Last
Cricut mats are meant to last anywhere from 25-50 uses. That range is so broad because of the multitude of materials you can cut with a Cricut machine. Plus, the environment in which you cut can also make a huge difference.
For example, crafters who use their Cricut for paper and vinyl projects won’t necessarily need to clean, repair, or replace their mats as often as crafters who choose thicker materials. These bulkier materials, such as glitter vinyl, shed a bit more as they’re cut. Whatever debris ends up on the mat could build up and cause the mat to lose stickiness.
At the same time, if you’re working in an environment where you have a lot of fibers or hair swirling about, your Cricut mats may load up faster. Pet hair is a common problem, as the fine hairs easily stick to open/uncovered Cricut mats.
Cricut Mat Cleaning Techniques
Dirty or furry Cricut mats can cause your cuts to stray from where they should be. If you’re facing a Cricut mat that just isn’t sticky enough anymore, try one of the following techniques for cleaning the mat. In most cases, the stickiness will return once cleaned.
One of the first methods you’ll want to try as you work with your Cricut mats and machine is to pick off the larger debris from the mat with tweezers. Doing so might feel tedious, but it’s an easy way to get the large pieces out first before you start delving deeper into the finer debris on the mat.
Alternatively, a scraper can help a lot as well. Cricut offers a scraping tool in their tool set, which can help lift up debris on your Cricut mat. The more you can get off with your scraper, the less you’ll have to work with when it’s time to start scrubbing.
A lint roller or a piece of tape wrapped over the back of your hand works well for pet hair, where tweezers may just frustrate you. Lint rollers are easy to roll back and forth across the surface of the Cricut mat, just make sure that you’re not leaving any sticky residue on the outer edges of the mat itself.
Soap and Water
If your Cricut mat continues to remain dirty, good old fashioned soap and water should do the trick. Simply scrub the mat with a hot bath of soap and water, using a bristle brush or even just a washcloth. While you might be tempted to get out the scouring sponge, you could end up damaging the mat beyond repair.
Sometimes Cricut mats will respond better to alcohol-free wipes. These cloths are easy to apply to the surface of the Cricut mat and can easily lift dirt and debris out of the way. While they may not necessarily be as effective as soap and water, they’re an easy solution you can begin with.
Degreaser + Soap and Water
Cricut mats that have seen quite a few cutting projects may need the extra bit of scrub that comes with using degreaser. This product can be purchased at your local hardware store and works like a tough dishwashing soap to lift contaminants. Since degreaser itself leaves a film, you’ll want to follow up with a sudsy soap and water rinse.
We mentioned staying away from sponges when it comes to washing your Cricut mat with soap and water. But if you have access to a Magic Eraser, you should definitely take advantage of the technology behind such a cleaning tool.
A Note on Drying: No matter which method you choose, you’ll want to make sure to let the Cricut mat air-dry naturally. Using any sort of hair dryer or paper towel dabbing will only allow fresh contaminants to sit upon your clean mat.
How to Make a Cricut Mat Sticky Again
Cleaning your Cricut mat should bring back some life to the adhesive. However, if you’re not satisfied with the level of stickiness on your Cricut mat, there are a few things you can do to improve it altogether.
Clean Your Mat
The first thing you’ll want to do is clean your mat. We mentioned various methods for doing so above, but the reason you want to do this before going a bit further with adding stickiness is to ensure any adhesive you do apply doesn’t incorporate any debris into it right off the bat.
One of the products you don’t want to use when cleaning your Cricut mat is nail polish remover. While it might seem like a go-to instead of alcohol wipes, the nail polish remover can actually do more harm than good.
Remove the Old Sticky Layer
The next thing you’ll want to do after cleaning is remove the old sticky layer. You can do this by scraping it with a plastic scraper, like the one that’s included in the Cricut tool kit. Rubbing alcohol works well to get the stickiness to lift off the mat, but you will still have to scrape at it to get it off.
Once you’ve got all the old adhesive off, it’s time to apply a brand-new layer. Before we get too deep into that, you’ll need to prep your Cricut mat by taping off the sides where there’s no adhesive present. Any adhesive here can cause the wheels to gum up and not feed right, so make sure you’re covering everything except where you want the stickiness to be.
Repositionable Adhesive Application
The final step here is to create a new sticky layer. In order to do that, you can choose from one of the following adhesives to apply:
- Quilt basting spray
- Glue stick glue
- Scrapbooking glue
- Tacky glue (thinned out with a bit of water)
- Spray adhesive
Ensure that the entire surface of your mat (that’s not taped off) is covered by the adhesive. You will probably end up having to apply more than one coat of adhesive in order for it to become properly sticky. Make sure, however, that you let the adhesive completely dry between coats for best results.
Tips on Protecting Your Cricut Mat
Like anything else, protecting your Cricut mat from losing its stickiness begins and ends with proper maintenance every time you use it. Here are a few tips on how to keep your Cricut mat sticky and ready to use the next time you cut:
- Always keep your Cricut mat covered with the protective film, unless you’re cutting, of course.
- After a handful of uses, take a minute to clean your Cricut mat. You can use any of the methods we described above to do so.
- If you’re using a variety of materials, invest in dedicated Cricut mats for every material type. For instance, felt or fabric projects should be cut on one Cricut mat, while vinyl and paper projects could be cut on another, separate mat.
- Contact paper is another great way to protect your Cricut mat. Like a flat lint roller, simply place the sticky part of the contact paper up, with the non-sticky side to the Cricut mat itself. Once the contact paper wears out, you can simply replace it.
There are times when you may find your Cricut mat is too far gone to salvage. You may need to invest in another mat, but at least you’ll have the knowledge now to make the most out of your purchase.
Make Your Own Cricut Mat
For you DIY-ing crafters out there, there is the option of creating your own Cricut mat. You can check out YouTube videos on how other crafters created their own budget Cricut mats, or you can use your imagination to solve this problem.
Don’t Let Unsticky Mats Stop You
Cricut machines are meant to spark your creativity. Don’t let a tired old Cricut mat get in your way. Use these techniques to rejuvenate your mat or keep them in mind for the new mat you purchase.