Cleaning Chalk Couture Transfers
One of the first questions I had, when I started designing with Chalk Couture transfers, was what is the best way to clean chalk couture transfers when I was finished making my beautiful piece. It took me a long time to find the answer, so I want to save you some time and tell you all you need to know when it comes to cleaning chalk transfers.
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What is a transfer
So you may have heard the term transfer and wondered what it is. Transfers are simply Chalk Couture designs that are cut out of sticky material. I like to compare them to a silkscreen because that's what they are most similar to.
See, as a crafter I like to cut designs out of vinyl and those can be used to make signs or shirts with. BUT, if you've done this, then you know the tricky part is the piece that is in the middle of an object – like the letter O or letter A. These have a space in the middle that's not connected and therefore with vinyl you'll have to place it in the middle of your design as a separate piece.
With transfers, your design is all in one sheet. You can see from the photo that the “e” in the middle of the word is all included! If you look at the words above it there are lots of letters that have “middles” in “doubt, add”. It's all together! So this means that you peel off one-piece – all stuck together- and place it where you're going to paint or ink.
How to use a transfer
So, let's talk about how to use this beautiful thing! It's really quite simple.
Before you start, you may want to gather these additional items. I'd also suggest you put an X (or you can write the design name) on the back of your sheet with a permanent marker. Then, you're going to peel the front off the back carrier sheet and place the transfer of a fuzzing cloth. I love the fuzzing cloth from Chalk Couture (here are some tips on using your fuzzing cloth).
If you don't have a fuzzing cloth then an old hand towel will do. This will remove some of the sticky from your transfer so it doesn't stick so well to your project that you can't peel it up.
Don't worry, we'll be cleaning it to “reactivate” the sticky so make sure you don't skip this part.
Not fuzzing your transfers will cause them to stick REALLY well to your project and you could damage or destroy the transfer trying to get it off once you've painted. You could also damage your surface by peeling up part of it if you are using a non-Chalk Couture board. Additionally, if you are layering designs, it could peel up the first layer of chalk paste.
If you are inking on fabric then you do not need to fuzz your transfer. You will need to make sure it is “sealed” to make sure your ink does not bleed around the edges of your transfer.
If you are using your transfer on a rough wood surface, you will want to wax your surface first. You can learn more about waxing wood in an upcoming article.
I like to clean chalk couture transfers immediately after using. This keeps the paint from clogging up the silkscreen areas so I can get the maximum value from my transfer.
You'll want a large pan filled with enough water to cover the bottom. If you're using a small A size transfer, a plastic dish also works well. I'm very much into recycling so I use a plastic tub that held food and I use that (after I thoroughly clean it!).
After painting and carefully peeling off the transfer, lay it flat into the water. Make sure there's enough water to submerge the transfer. I then use my fingers to rub the paint off the transfer.
You can also use board erasers to help get additional paint off. Keep in mind some paint colors like red or black that are deep colors may stain your transfer and that's ok. Also, inks tend to have higher pigments and will also stain more easily.
I've found the following tips really help to keep in mind when you get ready to clean chalk couture transfers:
You can use the commercial cleaning erasers if you don't have a chalk couture board eraser. I like to cut these large erasers into smaller pieces for easier use. I use one-fourth of a rectangle eraser usually (it's my thrifty nature to use my resources wisely!)
I find the board eraser will remove more of the paste than just rubbing it with my fingers.
If the water in your pan has become very colored, I find putting my transfer under running water one last time helps to remove any color that may still be on your chalk couture stencil.
Once you've got all the paint off, pick your transfer up by 2 adjacent corners and lay it sticky side up on your fuzzing cloth (but flip it over to the microfiber side. (I like a double-duty utensil!). Using a disinfectant wipe (DO NOT use baby wipes) wipe over the adhesive part of your transfer to remove any junk it's picked up from your surface. It also helps to wipe away any water that has puddled on it too.
If disinfectant wipes are hard to find, thanks to a pandemic, then you can use a small microfiber cloth. I love this little pack as you'll also have enough to place around your house to clean other things! You can also use a sturdy paper towel (not the kind that falls apart when they get wet!) or an old t-shirt that's been cut up into small rags. I have found all work well for cleaning your chalk couture transfers.
My favorite though is the small microfiber cloths! (remember I love items that can do double duty!) These are also better for the earth as you aren't creating a lot of trash. I've also been known to cut up larger microfiber cloths, serging the edges to use as well.
You'll let it dry like this. Once it's dry you are ready to put the backer back on. You'll put the side you marked on facing you (so you see it) so that means the shiny side (right side) is facing the transfer. If you place it on the wrong side (the not-shiny side) it may stick to the sheet and not come off – which is why it's SO important to mark the backside!
Cleaning Tips for Best Results
- I mark the backs of my transfers immediately after unwrapping them. If you have a transfer with lots of pieces, be sure to mark each piece. I store these in a small bag. More on transfer storage to keep you organized.
- wash your transfers immediately after using. Just like the dishes! The quicker you do them the easier it is!
- Do not let your transfers sit in water for long periods of time. This can degrade the adhesive on the back of the transfer and potentially cause it to not stick as much.
- a larger pan works best for all sizes. I like to reuse plastic ones that might otherwise be thrown away. Look around & see if you can “reuse” something you have! If that fails, try a resale store or a place like a thrift store to get an inexpensive dish or pan. a 9×13 pan should work for most smaller transfers.
- For really large transfers, a 10-gallon mixing tub from Home Depot works. Some ladies wash theirs in their tub or shower. Just be sure you have tile in your shower as the transfer will stick REALLY well & you might have trouble removing it.
- Items like glitter are a bugger to remove so try to keep it away from your transfer as much as possible
- You may want to use separate pans for shimmer paste. I have found that shimmer paste can leave some shimmers in the pan. This can lead to having shimmer on your transfers. If you don't use a separate pan, then clean your pan well between designs where you use shimmer paste.
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How do I clean Chalk Couture Transfers or Stencils
After using your transfer, you'll want to clean it in a dish or pan with enough water to cover the bottom. Rub the paste with your fingers or use these helpful tools to get your transfer clean. Your transfer is reusable, so cleaning it will make sure you can use it multiple times.