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Clay Poker Chip Cleaning Tips by Michael Thomas

Your poker chips go through a lot of manhandling. They are your prized possession and a symbol of what you bring to the table, but they are also among the dirtiest things you may own if not cleaned properly. Every player at your table will toss, stack, rake, and pass your chips, transferring oil from their fingertips and hands to the chips. If you offer food and drinks at your game, then small particles of food and drops of drink end up on the chips as well.

If you are not proactive at cleaning clay poker chips, they will start to show the dirt and grime left on them from hours of aggressive play. Before you know it, you will be left with dirty chips that players do not want to touch.

There are different methods of cleaning clay poker chips, and you will likely come to your own preferred system with time. To get started, there are some basic guidelines that you can follow to minimize your chances of ruining your chips.

Before proceeding, note that the following cleaning strategies do not apply to vintage clay chips. If your chips are vintage, you must take them to a professional cleaner to ensure you do not ruin them while cleaning.

Clay Poker Chip Cleaning Supplies

There are a variety of poker chip cleaners on the market, but not all of them are suitable to a serious poker player interested in maintaining the integrity of the chips. You will rule out a lot of the options simply by looking for a cleaner that meets all of the following criteria:

  • Ability to remove body oil, food particles, and other sources of dirt and grime.
  • Gentle enough to leave the ink unharmed.
  • Maintains the moisture content of the chips.

An example of an unsuitable cleaning agent is rubbing alcohol because it is harsh enough to remove ink from the chips and dry the chips out. Some examples of suitable cleaners include Sterling Magic, Quick’n’Brite, Armor All Multipurpose, and a mild dishwashing detergent (for hand washing, not machines). If you choose Armor All, make sure you only use the multipurpose variety. The Armor All tire cleaner and other varieties will damage your chips.

You will also need a soft cotton towel or terry cloth, a bowl of water, and a baby toothbrush with soft bristles. You may also choose to use baby oil for extra shine.

The Cleaning Process for Clay Poker Chips

Properly cleaning clay poker chips requires you to hold your thumb over the center of the chip to protect the ink. You should work the toothbrush around the outer surface of the chip until it is adequately cleaned. The chips are rinsed in the bowl of water and gently wiped with the towel or terry cloth until dry.

That is the basic cleaning process for clay poker chips, but baby oil can be used as a final coating that adds shine. Start with this process, and you will eventually come up with your own preferences for cleaning clay poker chips.

This article was published on Friday 31 July, 2009.
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