Caring for Your Self-Healing Cutting Mat

I love my self-healing cutting mat. Probably one of my best friends, in the sewing room anyway. But did you know that your mat needs some regular care in order to keep it in tip top shape? Otherwise it will begin to look like my old mat here. (Eek!)


Caring for your self-healing cutting mat is easy. Every now and then you will want to take a little scrubber (like the kind used for dishes) and brush off your mat to release any loose threads that get caught. You don’t need to rub too hard, just a light touch is sufficient.

Cleaning Your Mat

Once you have the excess loose threads and fibers removed, it’s time to moisturize your mat and bring that surface back to life. A quick bath in a solution of vinegar and dish soap will do the trick, plus it should also remove any surface stains on the mat. (Except for ink stains – those are a little tougher.)

To soak your mat, place it in a bathtub or container that is large enough so your mat can lie flat. Add a solution of ¼ cup white vinegar per gallon of cool water and let it soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure the water is cool! Warm or hot water can warp your mat.

vinegar-poured-in Now add a bit of mild dish soap and take another soft brush, gently scrubbing the surface of your mat. This will get any straggler fibers that may be trapped in the cuts on your mat and prevent it from self-healing. (Note: you’ll have to keep an eye out for any hitch hikers who may decide to join your mat bath. Baxter thought he needed a soak too.)

baxter-tub-hijacker This special solution will absorb into your self-healing mat and make it nice and supple again. You can dry the mat with a cotton towel or let it air dry flat. Make sure it’s flat too – you don’t want it to warp as it dries.

And that’s it! Easy. Just remember, keeping your mat clean, moist, flat, and away from excess heat will preserve it for years to come.

Happy quilting!

Related Video: How to Care for Cutting Mats

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29 Responses to “Caring for Your Self-Healing Cutting Mat”
    • M J Lee

      I have a 58 x 33 mat on my cutting table, which will not fit into a tub for a soaking bath. After Any suggestions for revitalizing it?

      • National Quilters Circle

        Hi M J. Do you have a children’s pool available? Now would be a great time to pick one up!

  1. Nancy

    What if you don’t have a tub? Is there another way? I have recently purchased a new mat and would like to keep it as new as possible. Thanks for the article!

  2. Katie

    Is there a way to repair a warped mat. I just bought new one and on the way home in the car(it was hot) and it warped on one side. Is there a way to unwarp it? Thanks

    • National Quilters Circle

      Hi Katie. I’ve tried many ways to unwrap, unfortunately I am not aware of a way. With that being said, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way. Let’s see if any of our other experts have an idea.

      • Jewellene

        I placed a warped mat on my patio(flat surface) and allowed the sun to heat it. I then placed something flat on top for a day, once mat was heated from the sun and afterwards it was as good as new.

        • Judith BRumm

          This worked for me as well. The mat warped in the hot car and was a mess by the time I got home. I used this method of wetting it and laying it flat on the balcony to dry with some books on top of a towel on the mat. Temp was about 100 in the sun. didn’t take long for it to be as smooth as new!

  3. Linda Sohm

    I didn’t know this either. But my mat is too big for the tub. Can I just spray the solution on?

    • National Quilters Circle

      Hi Linda. You can, but you won’t get the full effect the tub gives. Do you have a children’s pool you can put an inch of water in?

  4. Marjorie Goble

    I use my gloves (the ones with the little rubber grippies) on the fingers to clean my mat. Just rub over the mat in circular motions and it will remove any pieces of fabric, threads, bits of batting, etc. Then just pull the little matted clump from your glove and you’re good to go.

  5. Cheryl Buchanan

    I had cleaned my mat and let it dry for a few days. Then I put a new blade in my rotary cutter and it cut all the way through my mat. As many years as I have been cutting I’ve never had this happen. Has anyone else?

  6. Jeanette

    I just wish I had a bath in this house. Is there an alternative if you don’t have a bath or large laundry trough.

  7. Jess

    If you don’t have a tub or kiddy pool, use a garbage bag! Find a flat spot outside, slip your mat in the bag, add water/vinegar/soap, and fix the opening so it doesn’t spill out. I’ve done this with my oven racks and other flat items and it worked great!

  8. Jan

    Is this method of care suggested for all materials that mats are made of? All brands? I see that you are soaking the very popular brand of green mat. My mat is is a harder surface blue one. Should I soak it? And in the past, I had a translucent white one that eventually develloped places so cut that it became unusable. Would this method of care have prolonged its life?

    • Customer Service

      Hi Jan. This method is usually suggested for ‘self healing’ cutting mats. This is due to the fact that those mats need to retain some kind of moisture in order to keep their self healing properties. As for other non- self healing mats, I recommend using the edge of a ruler to push out or brush away bits of fabric that can get stuck down in the cuts of the mat. If you are getting large piece of cuts areas so cut up that they are unusable, it is best to just replace the mat. I would recommend trying to not always cut in the same spot on your mat. For example, if you are repeatedly cutting 4″ strips, don’t always line up the fabric and cut at 4, 8, 12..etc.- instead offset the fabric to utilize different areas of the mat. This can help make it last longer.

      Hope this helps!