Comic Book Cleaning 101

Posted by Adrian Woods on

Comic Book Cleaning 101

Part I


Comic book dry cleaning is the process of removing imperfections from a book such as dirt, dents, stains, or other nonpermanent marks caused by years of being exposed to the climate by using nonabrasive chemicals or solvents.  Of course, the goal of dry cleaning is to clean the comic book as if nothing ever happened to the book, but many of these marks cannot be removed.  Comic book dry cleaning will not fix major defects. It is a way to preserve the books appeal.  You can still remove many imperfections creating a better overall appearance.  For those submitting for grading, this increases the grade considerably.

There are countless techniques to dry cleaning a comic book.  The practice will take hours of patience and practice. Always begin by practicing on a cover that is irreversibly damaged.  This way you can make mistakes and not damage a valuable book.  Below are listed tools that you will need to begin.

  1. Clean work-space
  2. White erasers 
  3. Printer paper 
  4. Spotlight 
  5. Eraser Pad  
  6. Baby Wipes

The Dry-Cleaning Process for Comic Books


Before you begin, I must warn you that this process takes hours and hours of practice.


Step One: Use a Baby Wipe to Remove any Layers of Dust or Residue

Even with best storage, there will be dust and other marks on the surface of the comic book.  If there is a stain on a comic book cover or page, hopefully it is merely surface level. First take a baby wipe and ring out all excess liquid.  You want the wipe to be damp, but not wet.  Take the damp wipe and rub it gently across the cover. This will remove the dust and some or the discoloration that has occurred through time. This step is for surface stains only.  Dried stains, like Kool-Aid or blood, that were caused by an accidental spill will require a more thorough cleaning technique.


Step Two: Use Eraser Pad to Remove Stain

A dry-cleaning sponge will help to pull heavy marks and stains from the cover and pages of a comic book. I prefer Absorene eraser pad, which can be purchased on Amazon; but Mr. Clean Magic Eraser will do a more than adequate job. You want to apply this with a gentle touch.  If an area is overly scrubbed on an area without a stain, it could pull ink from the pages. That would be an irreversible mistake. Erasers work better, whether it be pencil top sized or like a school eraser.


Step Three: User erasers to remove dirt spots

Take several white erasers to fine tune your cleaning and remove tough dirt stains and pencil marks on white surfaces. DO NOT USE ERASERS ON COLORED SURFACES.  White erasers are preferable because other color erasers tend to leave a colored stain. I use several different size erasers for this purpose.  White erasers can be used to scrub off marks that can be more stubborn.  Use bigger erasers for bigger erasers for more defined edges.  After you clean an area, use a paint brush to wipe away any excess debris.


Step Three: Use Wallpaper Putty to Complete the Job

The last step is removing any particles that may remain. Take wallpaper putty and roll the putty into an elongated shape and roll it across the paper.  This will pick up any left-over dirt and remove particles of stubborn stains.  This will also brighten the cover and allow colors to pop.


There are several expert techniques and tools that can be added to the dry-cleaning process, but practice with the basics before trying these advanced techniques.  Do not expect to become and expert overnight.  The process of dry-cleaning takes hours of practice.  If turning in an expensive comic for grading, I suggest paying for an expert grading and pressing to ensure a high grade, until you are comfortable with this craft.

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