How to Safely and Naturally Clean Stained Clear Blocks

Have you ever had clear blocks stained by permanent ink?  Whether it be Archival, Staz-On, or other permanent ink, sometimes, the ink just doesn’t want to come off, no matter how much you scrub!  And if you’re like me, you like your blocks clean and shiny and looking new!

Normally, I wash my blocks with warm soapy water in the kitchen sink.  I use a scratch free scrub sponge and a little dish detergent, then put them in my boys’ old baby bottle rack to dry.   But even with regular washing, sometimes the ink just doesn’t come off!  So here’s a step by step guide on how you can safely and naturally clean your blocks, even ones with stubborn stains!

So here’s a block that my 3 year old got a hold of when I wasn’t looking.  I was making a card, I went into the other room, and when I came back, he was stamping the block onto my Basic Black Archival pad.  (I should have closed the pad, but I was literally gone for only about 30 seconds!)  Now granted, this block has A LOT more ink on it than a block normally would, but seeing it is what gave me the idea to write this post!   So here’s how I got this block looking shiny and clean in just a few minutes:

Step 1:  Gather your Supplies

To clean your blocks, you will need the following:  A scrub sponge, dish detergent, and LEMON essential oil.

Just a couple of things:

  • You want to make sure you use detergent.  Regular hand soap will work to a degree, but it will NOT break up the oil properly to remove it all from the block, and you want to make sure that all of the oil is gone.  More on why that’s important later!
  • You also want to make sure that you are using a NON-SCRATCH scrub sponge.  Brillo pads and steel wool will scratch your blocks!
  • For the oil, I am partial to Young Living Essential Oils.  Why?  First, Young Living oils are among the best quality oils on the planet.  They are 100% pure, therapeutic grade, and contain no artificial chemicals or substances.  Second, and here’s a disclaimer: I am also a Young Living distributor.  I don’t “sell” them as a business, as my Stampin’ Up! business takes up all of my time, but they are the only ones I use and trust to use in my home, especially as I have small kids!  So I highly recommend them above all others!

Step 2: Wash Your Block with Detergent Only 

Before using the oil, you want to make sure you give your block a good washing with the detergent alone.  This will remove any non-permanent ink from your block, as well as any other dirt or film that may be present.  Wash it, give it a good rinse, and dry thoroughly.  Here is what my block looked like after I washed it with detergent alone.  Although much of the ink washed off, what’s left here just would not come off, no matter how much I tried!

Step 3:  Add Essential Oil to the Block

Apply the oil to the stained side of the block.  Just a few drops are all you need.  This definitely works better if you start with a dry block.  Oil and water don’t mix and you want the oil on there full strength!

Step 4:  Rub the Oil Over the Surface of the Block

Rub the oil in so that the surface of the block is covered.  Let it sit for about 10 seconds.

Step 5:  Apply Dish Detergent and Scrub the Block

After letting the oil sit for a few seconds, you want to give your block a good scrubbing with the detergent and sponge.  This is important for two reasons: scrubbing will help get the ink off faster, plus it will ensure that all of the oil is cleaned from the block.  As I mentioned before, you definitely do NOT want to leave the oil on too long.  Lemon oil, as well as any citrus essential oil, contains natural substances that can damage plastic if left on too long.  Honestly, I do not know how long it would take to damage our blocks…I’ve never left it on there long enough to find out!

Step 6:  Rinse Thoroughly with Warm Water

Be sure to rinse well to remove the ink as well as all traces of the oil.  Dry thoroughly and you should be good to go!

Doesn’t that look great?  Now in the interest of full disclosure, for heavily stained blocks, it may be necessary to repeat the above steps multiple times.  For this block, I had to apply the oil and scrub FOUR times to get it all off!  Sometimes it works the first time, and sometimes it doesn’t.  But I have never had a block that it didn’t fully clean!  Even ones that the ink has been on for MONTHS! I’ve used this method many, many times with multiple kinds of ink, and so far, it’s worked on every one of them!  🙂

Some added benefits of using lemon essential oil to clean your blocks are that it’s all natural, it smells light and fresh, and may also help boost your mood, as citrus oils are known to help with that as well!  Lemon oil is one of the most versatile oils you can buy!

For more information on Young Living Lemon Essential Oil, please click HERE.

I hope that this post has been helpful!  Please feel free to contact me with any questions you have!