How to Dry Clean Comic Books: Tips and Tricks - Comic Years
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How to Dry Clean Comic Books: Tips and Tricks

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BY February 6, 2022

Any dedicated collector of comic books knows condition is everything. When comic books are looking worse for wear, it is scary to consider the cleaning process. Luckily, this article is going to break down the best ways to dry clean comic books. It might sound intimidating, but use this article as a guide. Likewise, once the process is done a few times, it becomes second nature.

Details will be provided on when to know it is time for a dry clean. After that, the tools for a proper dry clean will be listed so shopping can begin. After all tools are compiled, the process will be given step by step to ensure pristine condition for your comic books!

What is a Dry Clean for Comic Books?

If you have not dry cleaned a comic before, the process may be foreign. It is hard to keep a comic in perfect condition, even with a lot of care. Over the years, a comic book starts to feel its age in a variety of ways. Those signs of wear and tear will be explained in detail later. For now, the actual dry clean process needs a bit of explaining.

Dry cleaning a comic book involves removing stains, production marks, and other visuals from the cover and pages. Chemicals or other liquids that might damage the comic book further must be avoided at all costs. That’s why dry cleaning is the most popular form of care for comics. It would make no sense to remove a stain on a comic book cover with an oil or chemical. The process of doing so would ruin the ink, coloring, and overall value of the comic. To avoid these risks, dry cleaning stands as the safest way to clean a beloved comic book.

Signs Its Time to Dry Clean Comic Book

The obvious signs of damage on a comic book are easy to spot. If a stain has made its way to the cover or pages, it is often seen immediately. Additionally, tears are going to stick out like a sore thumb. There is not much you can do about ripping, but stains are no match for a good dry clean. A similar concept that runs parallel to staining is skin and dander oil. The body produces sebum, an oil that comes out of the skin to keep it hydrated. When excess sebum sits on the skin, it can easily rub off on things that it comes in contact with. This can be a tougher stain to spot at a glance, but visible upon inspection.

Most Unnoticed Signs of Comic Book Damage

Believe it or not, if hair gets into a comic book, it can actually imprint itself into the pages. Flipping through a comic to remove any excess hair that may have fallen into it can help save stress down the road. Likewise, an often unconsidered residue that can build up is food or drink leftovers. If a comic is read on a surface that ever holds food or a drink, it can actually make its way onto the pages. It can be tricky to spot, but taking care of your comic books is crucial as a fan. Assessing the damage is important before dry cleaning to know what books need it, and which are okay.

Things That Dry Cleaning a Comic Book Cannot Fix

A regular question many ask about dry cleaning is whether or not some TLC can take care of indentation. If an indent, caused by hands or an object of any sort, is present, it may not come out. The pages of a comic book are thin, and very susceptible to impressions. Similarly, if a wrapping caused any sort of damage to the book, that will also likely not come out. It does not always get noticed before making it home, but comic wrappings can be very damaging. The best way to combat this issue is to keep an eye out for it while shopping so you are not disappointed when you get home.

Supplies to Buy for Dry Cleaning a Comic Book

comic book dry clean tips
Image Credit: Kaptainmyke

The supplies needed for a good dry clean of a comic book are relatively straight forward. They fall in a few different categories that will be broken down below.

Primary Tools for Dry Cleaning

Cotton Rounds

The first thing to purchase for a comic book dry cleaning kit is a cotton round. This will be the first thing you use every time you dry clean comic books. The idea behind a cotton round is that its fluffy yet secure shape keeps any external residue from staying on the comic. Subsequent cleaning steps will be useless if a residue is left on the comic. Make sure the cotton round is dry. Some options in the beauty section come with lotion or a substance on them. That could cause further damage, so go with a dry option.

Dry Cleaning Sponge: Eraser Pad

Dry cleaning sponges are a material that helps to provide a white eraser to remove marks and stains. A common material many understand when they hear about dry cleaning sponges is a Magic Eraser. Dry cleaning sponges remove more with less product. A more comic book friendly version of a dry cleaning sponge is an Absorene eraser pad. The brand Absorene will come up again in this list of recommended tools . The purpose of the eraser pad is to help combat issues of discoloring in white backgrounds.

Book Cleaner Putty

A good book cleaner putty helps to finish things off when working on stains or marks. There are a lot of brands, but again, it is recommended by many to use the Absorene book cleaner putty. The putty, when extended into a worm shape, can be used to help finish off any extra marks without pulling from the ink.

These three tools are the key to a good outcome when you dry clean comic books. Once these tools are acquired, the process of removing stains and marks from your collection can begin!

The Dry Cleaning Process for Comic Books

Now that the necessary tools are in your possession and you have assessed which comic books need cleaning, the steps to making them like new again can begin!

Step One: Use Cotton Round to Remove Layer of Residue

If there is a stain on a comic book cover or page, it may be mostly contained at the surface. By taking a cotton round and rubbing it gently on the mark, some or most of the discoloration may be removed. If something like a stain from a drink or blood from a paper cut is causing the damage, this may not work as well. Dried stains that are the product of a liquid spill of any sort will likely be a deeper stain. For those that may just be minor marks, this step might do the trick.

Step Two: Use Eraser Pad to Remove Stain

A dry cleaning sponge will help to pull external color from the cover or pages of a comic book. Like a Magic Eraser, an Absorene eraser pad will take any sort of discoloration out of the picture. This is a smooth process, but does require careful application. If overused on an area without a stain, it could pull ink from the pages. That could be an irreversible mistake no amount of dry cleaning could fix. Erasers work better, whether it be pencil top sized or like a school eraser. The size gives you the ability to have total control over the cleaning sponge, as opposed to a larger object.

Step Three: Use Putty to Smooth and Finish the Job

The putty sends the job home with a smooth and neat finish. Rolling the putty into an elongated shape and letting it roll across the page can really help to remove any dust or stains that you may have missed. Likewise, when done gently, it helps to give a nice shine to the pages, helping artwork to stand out like never before. The vivid colors pop nicely when finished with the book cleaner putty, and makes the job feel complete.

Dry Cleaning Your Comics is a Must

Even if you never plan on selling them, dry cleaning your comics is a must. Taking care of your hobby is a great way to practice loving something that has given you a lot of joy over the years. For seasoned collectors with hundreds on their shelf, the years may have taken a toll on the comics in ways you do not realize. Making time to dry clean a comic is a great way to bond with an already huge part of your life.

Likewise, if you ever plan on selling, they will be in pristine condition. Use this guide to assemble supplies, clean your comics, and enjoy them in ways you have not been able to in years! Be sure to comment on whether or not this article was helpful for you and your collection.

Watch this Video – How to Dry Clean Comic Book


Taylor is the Gaming Editor of Comic Years and a lifelong fan of video games. He holds two degrees in Political Communication and wrote a Master's Thesis on resistance movements, race, and the exploitation of college athletes. His wife and two Toy Australian Sheppards keep him sane.


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