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Comic books can be dry cleaned for an improved condition using no harsh chemicals or solvents. This step is recommended first before comic book pressing. What is comic book pressing? How to Clean Comic Books using a basic supplies. This is a free DIY FAQ instructional tutorial guide to teach how to clean comics yourself at home.

 

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Comic Book Dry Cleaning


 

WELCOME
Save money by cleaning your own comic books with basic office supplies or cleaning supplies. Most supplies can be purchased directly on Amazon or eBay to save time, money, and shipping costs. Start small with some cheap dollar bin comic books or reader copies. I have provided links for easy re-ordering, and for clarification on materials required in this free visual FAQ guide.

 

WHAT IS COMIC BOOK DRY CLEANING?
Comic book dry cleaning is the process of removing stains or production roller marks using no harsh chemicals or solvents. Comics can get stains on them from time, aging, mildew, rust mitigation, crayons, pen marks, pencil marks, date stamps, or other hazards along the test of time. Many of these cannot be removed. Good news: some of the more common concerns can be safely removed. The idea is simple: to clean the comic book as if nothing ever happened to the book. This makes the overall grade and eye appeal of the book increase considerably. Comic book dry cleaning is not restoration, more like comic book conservation. The difference can sometimes mean thousands of dollars when discussing high dollar key comic books.

This guide like my other one will require countless hours of patience, practice and time.

Click on any photo to zoom to full size and see all its glory before you.
Updated on 8/25/2018 at 11:07 AM PST




SHOPPING LIST
You will need the following:

  1. Patience and time for all the countless hours you will put into learning this technique.
  2. Box of 100 pairs of powder free latex gloves. Bookmark that reorder button page, too!
  3. Silicone Release Paper (SRP) ULINE has boxes of 1000 sheets cut to size for $85 shipped SAME DAY. (recommended)
  4. Dental tools, specifically a dental pick and scraper.
  5. Absorene Book Cleaner putty 15 oz tub should be reordered over time and throw away each piece after each use. Cannot be reused to be effective. Do not use on Modern Age glossy covers.
  6. Absorene Dirt Eraser Pad should be reordered over time and thrown away after it has become too dirty to be effective. Cannot be cleaned.
  7. Mr Clean Magic Erasers, no scent or fragrance-free. Cut your own 1″ cubes to size. Throw away after 1 use. Cannot be reused.
  8. Lots of non glossy cardboard comic book backer boards of various sizes and thickness.
  9. Golden Age sized Mylite2+Fullbacks for transporting/handling/cleaning/flipping/spinning books
  10. Phone or tablet for photos of your process
  11. Lotion free Kleenex tissues, a dust cloth, or a can of compressed air to blow away dust shavings while cleaning and prepping
  12. 4 ft x 5 ft work space area at minimum for your press and supplies in a climate controlled room. Do not press comics in your attic or garage.
  13. Magazine Sized backer boards for use between your SRP paper and the book being pressed. (Required, Important).
  14. White polymer pencil eraser caps. (Do not get the pink ones.)
  15. Flathead screwdriver (staples, positioning, pushing down flat)
  16. Putty or paint knife (staples, positioning, pushing down flat)

 

 

DOES THIS BOOK NEED TO BE CLEANED?
The first question you should ask is: Does this book need to be dry cleaned? Signs the book would benefit from dry cleaning:

  1. Production roller marks
  2. Preparation for a comic book convention for a signing
  3. Using a third party presser prior to using a grading service for a signature series yellow label
  4. Valuable
  5. Rarity
  6. Pencil writing marks
  7. Dirt sheen
  8. Skin and dander oil
  9. Blood
  10. Boogers
  11. Hair
  12. Candy
  13. Wax crayon

 


DEFECTS AND WRITING
Dry cleaning comic books improves the overall look and feel of a book. It is not divine intervention. Things dry cleaning will not fix:

  1. Miswraps
  2. Kool-Aid or Coffee/Tea Staining
  3. Foxing
  4. Rust
  5. Ink, ballpoint pen, crayon, marker, Sharpie pen
  6. Missing pages, pieces, tears
  7. Staple placement
  8. Rounded corners
  9. Edgewear
  10. Deep indentations that travel through then entire book on every page
  11. Crease lines with missing ink (color breaks)

 

PRACTICE ON 6 TYPES OF BOOKS
You will need to practice first on 6 basic types of comic books to learn the process slowly. Practice on your own books first. Practice treating each book as if it were priceless.

  1. Golden Age Books
  2. Silver Age Books
  3. Bronze Age Books
  4. Modern Age Books
  5. Foil books (Convention exclusives) are more intimidating if anything. Watch your fingerprints! Always wear gloves.
  6. Modern Marvel books have digital code inserts found at the last 4 pages. You will need to use copy paper sheets, or a magazine backer board to prevent the 1″ square digital code from imprinting on last 4-5 pages and back cover. Do not press down too hard while cleaning these books.


There are more to practice on, but this is a great head start for the learning process. Different books require different angles of approach. Practice how you handle a comic book as well. Always wear gloves. Always lift and remove comics from their bag/board by pulling the entire comic and board from the bag. Always use a second bag/board to flip books over so they are supported.

 

INSPECTION PROCESS
Look at every angle, every corner of the book. Take photos with your tablet or phone. Take extra time to inspect the corners and spine around the staples. Look for and count spine ticks and which have color breaking lines along the spine. Are the corners rounded? Is there edge-wear along the spine? Is there edge-wear along the top and bottom covers? Flip the book over using another backer board so you do not stress the spine. Look for scrapes or light scratches on the back cover. Use the black-light UV inspection flashlight to detect color touch or amateur restoration techniques. Super valuable key books should be inspected for color touch, just in case. It’s also a good idea to inspect the staples to look for signs of replacement. One sign of staple replacement is when staple indentations do not line up with the current staple heads position.

Use a dental pick and scraper to carefully lift and place tears or folds where they should be before pressing or cleaning.

As long as the book is not brittle or rigid… Look for corner flaps and tears that need to be set in place. This step should be done first while the book is dry and not under any heat or pressure. You will use a dental pick and scraper for this step. If the book is too brittle or old, then you should use the humidity chamber approach after cleaning the covers instead.

It may be tempting to just use your fingernail, but could potentially rip or tear the crease worse. Dirt and oil under your fingernails could get trapped in the paper fibers as well. Golden age books are very forgiving with corner flaps and minor tears.

You want to do this step first before cleaning or pressing. This step is important to try to inspect the book carefully and turn each page for inspection. You are also looking for cutouts, missing pages, and missing centerfolds during this stage.

Absorene Dirt Eraser Pads are the greatest tool to start with dry cleaning the cover of your book. Get one here at this link on Amazon.

 

DRY CLEANING COMIC BOOK TIPS
Use a dental pick and scraper to carefully lift and place tears or folds where they should be before pressing or cleaning. For dry cleaning, it’s always best to start in a non-aggressive manner, so start small with just a simple clean eraser from a Number 2 pencil. I also use eraser tops as well. You will need to clean your pencil eraser often as you lift the dirt and oils from your comic book.



Cleaning a book should be approached in stages. Starting with latex rubber gloves, use a dental pick for lifting up folds and creases. Do this first. Lightly dust off and wipe the surface clean lightly with a lotion free Kleenex, dust cloth, or a can of compressed air. Try using a regular unsharpened #2 pencil eraser end to remove light staining on cover. This noninvasive method is recommended before using anything else.

 

STAGES OF DRY CLEANING COMICS

The order of using the tools in your toolbox for light stage cleaning to most aggressive stages of comic book dry cleaning are as follows:

1. Finger from a latex glove
2. Pencil Eraser Head Top
3. Unscented Dryer Sheet with eraser head as a "handle"
4. Unscented Paper Towel with eraser head as a "handle"
5. Absorene Eraser Pad
6. Absorene Book Cleaner Putty
7. Unscented/untreated original Mr Clean Magic Eraser 1" cube

And if you alternate all of them together alternating you will yield better results. For instance, go back and forth between the magic eraser and absorene book cleaner putty along the spine to clean out all the dirt that gets pushed into the trenches of the creases.

The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is harsh and should be used lightly on light colored or white colored covers and avoid red/black/yellow if you can.

 

Use the Absorense Eraser Pad to clean your pencil eraser top.

 

Next, if you have an Absorene Dirt Eraser Pad, wipe this across the surface of both front and back covers. Use the eraser pad lightly, let the weight of the pad be the only pressure as you gently glide it across the cover surface to remove dirt and oil.

Dirt and oil grime from production on a brand new modern age marvel 1:1000 retailer incentive copy of Venom #1 (2018)

 

(After) Dirt and oil grime removed from production on a brand new modern age marvel 1:1000 retailer incentive copy of Venom #1 (2018) Using a simple pencil eraser top.

 

So this is a pretty big secret, even if you don’t press comics. You can clean most comic book covers in this manner, regardless if you are pressing the book or not! You don’t need a press in order to perform this method.

 

Use Absorene putty next to delicately lift dirt and oils. You roll lightly and gently across the surface to remove and clean the paper at its fibers. If you do not have Absorene, try using a regular pencil eraser or a gum kneaded eraser. You will have to knead and work in the eraser until it becomes soft like the Absorene. Never rub the kneaded eraser, always blot or push downwards then lift upwards with straight up and down motions. Never use the kneaded gum eraser sideways or against the paper grain. Most of the time, 90% of the time, the pencil eraser and absorene eraser pad will do most of the work for you. If you cannot lift a stain, that’s okay – just remember we are not restoring comic books.

Go slow with the Absorene around corners and tears. You should place a perpendicular mylite2+fullback against your hand so that you do not lift up the cover or page being cleaned.

 

HOW TO USE ABSORENE PUTTY
Absorene comes inside a small plastic storage tub. It looks and feels like Play-doh. You want to take small 1/2″ cubes and roll it across the surface of your book covers and pages for dry chemical free cleaning. You will roll very lightly with light pressure as you roll “logs” across the surface being cleaned. I also have great results with warming the book up in the press for 5 minutes on each side on low heat at 150 degrees. When using the Absorene, take great care along cover edges and corners or you will lift up the cover unexpectedly and cause a crease. Worse yet, if you go too fast due to being impatient with your time – you can cause a rip and tear the cover. It helps tremendously to use backer boards to the left and right of the areas being rolled with Absorene. Try it to see if this works for you.

 

 

ABSORENE BOOK CLEANER PUTTY WARNING
Absorene Book Cleaner Putty should be used only on older books with covers that are not glossy or shiny. Avoid modern comic books with paper thin covers. The putty can easily rub into the book cover and cause severe and permanent damage. This is why I would suggest trying a pencil eraser or kneaded eraser on Modern Age books, instead. The Absorene Book Cleaner Putty works best on Silver Age, Copper Age, Dark Age and even most Bronze Age books. Any book produced after the year 2000 should be tested out on a reader copy first when considering the Absorene Putty. See below:

2018 Marvel Comics VENOM #3 San Diego Comic Con Exclusive

 

 

USING MR CLEAN MAGIC ERASERS AND ABSORENE TOGETHER
Cut 1″ cubes of Mr Clean Magic Eraser to alternate from Absorene and Eraser along spines. Never reuse a magic eraser cube. Apply firm but gentle pressure against book. Erasers are best used for white or light covers. Avoid red and black with the magic eraser!

For small spaces or around dark print area, use a pencil eraser with a tiny torn off piece of clean magic eraser material. Use the pencil as a hand tool to better control the magic eraser around corners, spines, or red/black/yellow print area.

Magic Erasers are great for white rear covers or white front covers. Warning: Black, Red and Yellow ink are easily lifted off the cover with the Magic Eraser! Use a Mr. Clean magic eraser very carefully. Always cut fresh 1” cubes with scissors. If you try to keep re-using the same magic eraser, you will start rubbing dirt into all the crease lines of comics, which creates new dark crease lines and makes the visual appeal start to drop significantly, so be warned about the magic eraser! Use this product with light pressure. Never use circular swirls when trying to lift up staining with a magic eraser. Make swift light strokes in one direction, never back and forth, and never in swirls. This will take time. Do not wax on and wax off. You only wax one way. You do not want to send the very same dirt lifted up from the magic eraser into a crease line crevice or crack on cover.

For small spaces or around dark print area, use a pencil eraser with a tiny torn off piece of clean magic eraser material. Use the pencil as a hand tool to better control the magic eraser around corners, spines, or red/black/yellow print area.

This is why you should alternate with the Absorene and the Magic Eraser. After using the Magic Eraser, it causes white powder dust shavings filled with dirt and oil. Even using a new Magic Eraser cube will push those shavings and dust back into the cracks and crevices of the spine being worked on. You will need to blow the dust away with a can of air. Alternate and use the Absorene to clean the area just cleaned with the Magic Eraser. Back and forth. Patience is key. Sometimes it feels like the Absorene just isn’t working but it is. Keep at it and you will eventually start to see staining and other debris being lifted slowly. It takes time to figure this one out. The magic eraser is very forgiving on white or light covers. However, use extreme caution using this technique on all black covers or very dark covers. The magic eraser does lift ink! Because of this, most professionals do not advise using a Mr Clean Magic Eraser. Most will suggest to use Absorene, because it is actually made for cleaning historical documents and archival paper such as the Library of Congress. If you are just starting out and learning the whole process, try using these products on some cheap books first to get a feel of the process. Remember, this is just a guide for beginners!

Before and after back cover photos of upper right corner dirt oil buildup along a staple bump. Magic Eraser and Absorene did wonders to this corner with minimal effort to lift the staining.

 

Before and after back cover photos of upper right corner dirt oil buildup along a staple bump. Magic Eraser and Absorene did wonders to this corner with minimal effort to lift the staining.

 

DRY CLEANING IN STAGES
What I do is approach every book with cautious cleaning tactics first, to see what is effective with the least effort. Less invasive first, to a more increased aggressive cleaning stage each time, to see what works. I like to start small, slowly increasing my efforts:

Start by carefully chipping or scraping away gunk, boogers, candy, or mud with a dental pick. Press down staples flat with a putty knife or flathead screwdriver.

1. Used dryer sheet.
2. Kleenex lotion free tissue.
3. Number 2 pencil with a white polymer eraser cap.
4. Clean eraser cap regularly with absorene eraser pad.
5. Absorene eraser pad across cover surfaces.
6. Absorene book cleaner putty across cover surfaces.
7. Mr Clean Magic Eraser tiny cubes cut, rub along spine and light colored surfaces of cover. No black or red or yellow inks.
8. Alternate between magic eraser and absorene eraser pad to remove magic eraser shavings.
9. Deep staining or moisture stains cannot be removed using these basic non-invasive dry cleaning methods.

 

STAPLES
Staples can push through the front and rear cover. Dirt and oil like to get trapped around elevated bumps along staple on back cover. Cleaning staples is not recommended either. Watch for rub and try not to clean them or scratch them up too much. It can be evident if there is staple cleaning with third party Grading Companies such as CGC and CBCS so I caution you on scuffing up staples. Rusty staples should be lightly scuffed but I would not recommend it.

 

 

JOIN US
There is a dedicated Facebook Group called "KaptainMyke Comic Book Pressing" for anyone to join and contribute ideas open for discussion. Ask questions about this guide or show off your own books! Anyone is welcome to join. I firmly believe the spread of accurate free information will help us all keep books preserved and conserved. You may find the Facebook Group at this link here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/kaptainmykecomicpressing

 

 

CONCLUSION
Try to be non-invasive with your books. Start small and work your way up to more aggressive tactics when removing stubborn stains or writing.

These tips will hopefully save you money, and guide you along the way as YOU learn and pick up new ideas and better ways to accomplish things.

 

 

 

Check out the KaptainMyke Comic Book Pressing Group on Facebook:
KaptainMyke Comic Book Pressing Group


1949 Quality Comics Group PLASTIC MAN #17
Before and After

 







1952 E.C. Publications VAULT OF HORROR #23
(Before and After)




 

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