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.
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
You will need the following:
time for all the countless hours you will put
into learning this technique.
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.
Dirt Eraser Pad
should be reordered over time
and thrown away after it has become too dirty
to be effective. Cannot be cleaned.
Clean Magic Erasers
, no scent or fragrance-free.
Cut your own 1″ cubes to size. Throw away after
1 use. Cannot be reused.
Lots of non glossy
cardboard comic book backer boards of various
sizes and thickness.
Age sized Mylite2+Fullbacks for transporting/handling/cleaning/flipping/spinning
Phone or tablet for photos of your process
Lotion free Kleenex
tissues, a dust cloth, or a can of compressed
air to blow away dust shavings while cleaning
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.
(staples, positioning, pushing down flat)
Putty or paint
knife (staples, positioning, pushing down flat)
from the beauty department of any local
store like Target or Walmart. Use these first
to remove loose dirt and grime from any comic
Dry Mop Refill Sheets
from the cleaning department
of any local store like Target or Walmart. Use
these above all to remove loose dirt and grime
from any comic book. This is an amazing product
right here, folks.
COMIC BOOK TOOLBOX
Use all the tools in
your toolbox for dry cleaning comics. This ranges
from non-invasive to more aggressive stages of comic
book dry cleaning.
The comic book dry cleaning tools used to safely
and effectively clean comics. These products are highly
recommended for cleaning comics.
You will use many different
products to clean comics. These are the main tools
you will need to use. All of these products should
be used gently and lightly. Small circular motions,
back and forth, left to right, diagonally. Try different
light motions to see which motion will effectively
lift a light stain or debris from comic book covers.
Here is a full list of tools from left to right, row
Absorene Eraser Pad
Makeup remover Cotton Ovals
Makeup remover Cotton Rounds
Toungue Depressor / Craft Sticks
Number 2 Pencils with White soft eraser caps
UV Black Light Flashlight
Pocket handheld pen flashlight
Small flathead screwdriver
1.5" Ball Bearing or Massage Roller Ball
Dentail Picks and Dental Mirror
Absorene Book Cleaner Putty
Kleenex Small Lotion Free Tissues
Infared IR Thermometer Gun
Mr Clean Magic Erasers in various cube sizes cut
Hangar 9 Tack Iron
Also, worthy of consideration is Swiffer brand
dry mop dust sheets as cleaning pads. This
product is great and will safely lift most dirt and
grime layers off comic books. Try it!
My dry cleaning toolbox of various tools and cleaners.
My most widely used items I placed inside a metal
storage tin. The other less used items or items that
take up space I placed in a larger plastic storage
container. Take notice of the ball bearing, magnifying
glass, jeweler's loop, kneaded eraser, natural sea
sponges, pencils with eraser tops, UV blacklight flashlight,
Absorene putty, and two Absorene book cleaner pads.
CLEANING COMICS 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:
First, 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. Those 2 are priority
before you begin dry cleaning:
Start small and work
your way down the list one-by-one as needed:
1. Swiffer Dust Sheets,
Lotion free tissue, or a cotton round from beauty
2. Pencil Eraser Head Top + Absorene Book Cleaner
Pad (for cleaning eraser 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
8. Natural sea sponges
And if you alternate
all of them together 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.
DOES THIS COMIC 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:
Production roller marks
- Preparation for a comic book convention for a
Using a third
party presser prior to using a grading service
for a signature series yellow label
- Pencil writing marks
- Dirt sheen
- Skin and dander oil
- 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:
Kool-Aid or Coffee/Tea
pen, crayon, marker, Sharpie pen
that travel through then entire book on every
Crease lines with
missing ink (color breaks)
ON 6 TYPES OF COMIC 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.
- Golden Age Comic Books
- Silver Age Comic Books
- Bronze Age Comic Books
- Modern Age Comic Books
- Convention Exclusive Foil Edition Comic
Books (Convention exclusives) are more
intimidating if anything. Watch your fingerprints!
Always wear gloves.
- Modern Age 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
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.
Wear a fresh pair of latex
gloves as you get started. Take a moment to examine
the book. Always lift comic books out with the backer
board as you slide them out of the bag. You do not
want to scratch the back cover. Do not press
books with food, gum, or candy debris. You
will need to remove it prior to pressing. Even if
this means scraping or damaging part of the book
to get it off. Sometimes color breaks and ink removal
are part of the debris removal. You have to use
judgement and experience whether it will benefit
or harm the book's overall value, condition, and
appearance. Mark Jeweler insert comic books and
other books with centerfold posters should be okay.
Digital codes and tattooz inserts are different
and will require a few extra steps covered elsewhere
in the guide.
so what are you looking for prior to pressing or
cleaning a comic book? Research is part of your
job. Especially if the book is to be sent off for
grading with CGC or CBCS or PGX. 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. What is the
difference between a 9.8 and a 9.6? 1 tiny color
breaking spine tick or edgewear. Seriously. Assume
that all books are a 5.0 and add or subtract points
based off the following criteria:
for and count the spine ticks.
breaking lines along the spine.
along the spine.
along the top and bottom covers.
on the corners.
or light scratches on the back cover.
valuable key books should be inspected for color
touch, just in case.
Staple replacement. Verify staple prongs line
up with indents.
Gloss or missing gloss on cover.
Writing on cover.
Writing on interior pages.
Missing interior wraps. (may or may not effect
Inserts. (research: poster centerfold, advertisements,
tattooz, stickers, coupons)
Spine splits at top or bottom.
1" or longer tear on cover.
Page Quality. (White, Off-White, Cream, Tan)
Page count. (research: verify there are no missing
Rust, Foxing, or Tanning. (brown or black spots)
shade, sun fading.
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.
CLEANING COMIC BOOK TIPS
First start off wiping the cover with a cotton round,
lotion free kleenex tissues, or a Swiffer wipe. 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.
My #1 favorite
tool in the toolbox: Helix brand white polymer eraser
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
AND SCRATCHES ON GLOSSY OR FOIL COVERS
Wear latex gloves. Use a small 2"
square of SRP Paper and spin a pencil eraser top back
and forth for a long deep scratch. Use a lotion free,
fragrance free kleenex tissue folded and start lightly
buffing in circles using little to no pressure at
all for light or faint scratches. Unscented dryer
sheets sometimes work, too. Many deep scratches on
black covers cannot be removed.
For fingerprints, wear
gloves and use two wadded up lotion free, fragrance
free kleenex tissues, buffing in circles using little
to no pressure at all. It helps to exhale your warm
breath across the surface before buffing an area.
The safest method for fingerprints and scratches is:
1. Wear gloves
2. Lotion free, fragrance free kleenex tissues
3. Buff in circles using little to no pressure at
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.
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
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.
I've had a number of
people ask me via email if I have a paypal account
for sending donations as a way of saying "thanks"
for the continuing efforts of this "living document"
teaching people how to safely press comic books. This
is not required by any means, but if you feel compelled
to do so, you may send a donation to this link: http://bit.ly/2SMgWOM
Here is a list of common questions often asked in
our Facebook group. Chances are, it's been asked many
times over, so I decided to insert this added section
right here for you all to review.
Is this the only
"correct" way to clean comic books?
No! There are many ways to clean comic books.
Many professionals do it differently! There is always
more than one way to achieve the same favorable results.
I rubbed too
much of the gloss off cover of book. Can this be repaired
Sorry, loss of gloss or color rub cannot
be replaced or repaired unless you do professional
I've heard that
a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is a cleaning product with
harsh chemicals. Will I get a purple label from CGC
for restoration from cleaning?
It's true that Mr. Clean Magic Eraser has chemicals
in the product. Despite what many have said online,
Formaldehyde is not and never has been an ingredient
in Magic Eraser. One ingredient in Magic Eraser (formaldehyde-melamine-sodium
bisulfite copolymer) contains the word “formaldehyde”
in its chemical name. However, this ingredient is
not formaldehyde and poses no health or safety risks.
Any of the advice given in this guide has been tested
many times over safely without receiving the dreaded
purple label of restoration. I do not endorse the
use of chemicals or otherwise radical solutions that
would risk the comic book from receiving a purple
label. All of the books displayed on this guide were
cleaned and pressed by me - and have never gotten
a restoration label. Absorene book cleaner putty,
Absorene book cleaner pad, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser,
and non-scented dryer sheets are completely safe.
You have to be careful using very very light gentle
pressure to prevent loss of gloss.
What can I do
about stamps and writing on cover?
Leave any date stamps, store stamps, pen
marks, written names or grocery lists alone inside
books. They are a part of the history of ownership
and provide a tiny window of insight on the owner
and its story. Date stamps, store stamps, and wax
pencils do not take a very big hit if any at all on
grading. Rips, tears, stains, spine splits and detached
staples are what really hit you during grading.
How do I remove
water stains or "tide lines" from comic
That's a great question! That is a very experienced
advanced level technique that will require the use
of distilled water and blotter
paper. Blotter paper can be purchased on Amazon
- it's the exact same product used in calligraphy.
Because the entire pressing guide here is targeted
for amateur level novice pressing, I do not suggest
this method. The guide focuses on dry cleaning methods
only, without the use of chemicals or liquids. To
elaborate on this technique, it is dangerous and not
recommended for inexperienced pressers. You will damage
books, sometimes very expensive books (I have damaged
quite a few of my own trying this out incorrectly).
You want to place and slide a comic book bag (no board)
under cover or pages to separate water from the rest
of the book. The idea is simple: change your mindset
on the idea of a water stain. The goal isn't to remove
the stain, but to simply "transfer" it from
point A to point B. Use a Q-tip and distilled water,
lightly applying distilled water to the stain area
only. Rub q-tip along the stain lines, or "tide
lines". When the area of focus is dilluted with
water, you use blotter paper below and above the stain.
Then you must lift or transfer the stain from the
paper to the blotter paper through the use of a heavy
flat object such as a ceramic tile or a press machine
(with extremely light pressure, with backed-off adjustment
knob) You can use your press machine as a cold press
to transfer the stain this way, too. Next, once you
have seen the stain has been lifted or moved, you
would proceed to use a tack iron to warm and dry the
paper in that concentrated area. After this is completed
successfully, you may proceed to press the book as
normal. Again, this is a very broad vague description
of the process and I do not suggest it for inexperienced
pressers. This technique does apply to most stains,
such as rust, tea, water, rain, coffee, blood. However,
a lot of stains do not come out as well. It also is
necessary sometimes to do this technique 3-4 times
as the stain gets lifted lighter and lighter each
time you do it to the same book. You have to be very
patient and go slow. It's best that you wait until
you've had 2-3 years of pressing experience before
you are ready to tackle this method. (Seriously).
I take zero responsibility using this technique if
you damage your books. You have been warned.