Chip Cleaning FAQ's
Read Me First
Casino chips are fairly sturdy and are
made to take a fair amount of abuse, but they do get dirty and
unattractive. Cleaning a chip that is dirty, but is otherwise in
good condition, can improve it's appearance. However, there are
exceptions. Cleaning a chip can actually damage it or give it an
unnatural appearance. Certain types
of chips are more delicate than others. Not all dirty chips
The recommendations below were compiled
from the suggestions of many chippers, see the list of contributors at
the bottom of the page. If you have something you would like to
add to this page, please send it to: Charles Kaplan.
To Clean or Not to
- I like 'em dirty! Adds
- I clean my own chips in my
collection as I see fit. I don't clean traders. I leave
that decision for the new owner.
- I don't clean my chips or my
- Don't clean worn chips. Worn
chips that are spotless look unnatural and unattractive.
- Don't clean chips that you intend
to trade or sell, let the new owner decide if they would like the chip
to be cleaned.
- I don't clean used chips,
other than to take off the big globs. For my collection, I currently
live by the philosophy that I can always clean them later, but I can
never put the history back on. I have lots of chips "awaiting a
- Not all chips are created
equal. Some old chips should be cleaned. Can even remove
light cigarette burns.
Chips that should
- Worn chips
- Very old or expensive chips
- Chips with paper inserts
- Chips that are very dirty
- Chips that are of a light or
color, like sky blue or orange, show dirt more readily than darker
colors. Even if they are not very dirty, sometimes you cannot
remove all the dirt from a light or bright colored chip and you are
left with an odd looking
How to Clean Chips
- Use a very soft bristled
- Let experts clean very old or
- A pencil eraser is good for
removing scuffs and crud from old chips.
- These cleaners have been reported
to have good results cleaning chips: mild dishwashing detergent,
Armor All Multi-Purpose Cleaner, Quick'n'Brite, Sterling Magic.
- The trick seems to be to find
something that will dissolve the greasy deposits that accumulate on
well used chips, without removing any ink, or leeching moisture from
the chip. Quick'n'Brite is a thick paste, and does not seem to
encourage any moisture transfer, while doing an excellent job of
breaking down the greasy gunk. I just stick the chip in the bucket
edgewise, rotate it a few time to coat the chip thoroughly, wait about
15-30 seconds, then wipe the chip down with a washcloth. It's
revolting how dirty that washcloth gets after only a few chips.
- I use Sterling Magic full strength
with a toothbrush. I use no water and just wipe clean with a cloth. It
has never, never, ever dried the chip out or caused it to fade. If the
chip has a hot stamp, I don't use the toothbrush on that part, I just
dab a little on with my finger and gently wipe it off with the cloth.
- I clean virtually all of my chips
except those that come straight from the cage and have never seen play.
I have also experienced no fading or drying out. The pink goop
(Sterling Magic) is great stuff.
- I've been using Armor All
Multi-Purpose Cleaning with fantastic results for the past year, no
damage to chip, luster and shine are still there...and it cleans the
chip. Don't use any other Armor All product i.e., tire cleaner,
window, bug, etc.
- Waterless hand cleaner, non
abrasive, with lanolin and a bath of johnson baby oil will restore the
luster. Give it a bath of oil, let soak for an hour or so on a bath
towel turn once after a while wipe dry. Regular mineral oil is
- I use a soft toothbrush &
Fantastik. I spray both sides of the chip & clean the dirt off with
the toothbrush & then rinse under warm water. I dry the chip with a
paper towel. I
then use a VERY small amount of mineral oil (which brings out the true
colors of the chip which may have been lost over time or due to
cleaning) rubbed between two fingers & work it into the chip. That
entire process should not take more than a minute. I'll then let the
chip dry for 24 hours on one side & turn it over & let dry for
another 24 hours before storing the chip.
- I used a soft children's tooth
brush and window cleaner. Hot stamps will turn from gold to
silver, so they get covered with my thumb and I only clean the mold
designs. Chipco, Paulson graphics BJ and others of like design are much
- I don't clean many of my
chips, but when I do I use Amway's L.O.C. (Liquid Organic Cleaner and a
baby's tooth brush (much softer than a regular soft toothbrush.)
I put a few drops of L.O.C. on the chip and brush very lightly. I so
this to remove the surface dirt. If the chip is extremely dirty I
generally leave it alone. It sometimes looks better dirty.
- Try Johnson & Johnson baby gel
instead of oils to restore the luster. I've been told this by a noted
chip collector and restorer.
- Crest and seals - Clean with a 3M
scouring pad or wet/dry sandpaper. Then bring back coloring with
Johnson & Johnson Baby Gel. (Note: the 3M scouring pad is
non-abrasive, it is sold for cleaning dishes.
- Simple Green is an
safe cleaner/degreaser. If you dilute it with water, it can remove
deposits from handling, without harming the chip. After cleaning, I
with plain water, and then pat dry with a soft cloth.. You can
Simple Green in almost any major store-Home Depot,Sears,Pep Boys, etc.
- Link to Sterling's
Magic Cleaner - http://www.sterlingsmagic.com/
How NOT to Clean
- Don't clean the hot stamp with a
toothbrush, only gently rub the cleaner in with your fingers.
- Never use anything abrasive to
clean your chips.
- Don't use steam to clean clay
chips, the steam will heat the chip until it softens and will warp.
- I did ruin a batch of old clays
once by putting them in the washing machine with bleach and Tide, it
messed them up pretty bad and was very loud to boot.
- I find tying them up in an old
T-shirt and running them through the washing machine cycle usually does
the trick. However, for that really tough grime that gets lodged down
in the bottom
of the cane in the hat&cane or the crevices in a small key mold,
there's really nothing like a good stiff wire brush and some elbow
grease. A little vaseline to bring out the colors when
you're done, and Viola! (This is meant as a joke.)
- Do not clean a hot stamped chip
with a toothbrush, instead gently rub with your fingers
- I have had very good luck with
Sterling's Magic cleaner. However, when I cleaned some old Mint
roulettes (this is
the series with the small crown mold and a round white inlay) I ended
removing a thin clear plastic cap that covers the inlay.
- Once I was cleaning (I think a
Diamond Jim) inlay chip with what I usually use -- dove hand soap bar,
toothbrush pared down and warm water, and water got under and
discolored the inlay. I think it must have happened because the
inlay was weak/lifting some/damaged.
- Once I really screwed up. I
had a lot of dried out, faded embossed style poker chips (maybe the
Golfer wearing knickers) I often rub chips like these with sewing
machine oil (or
mineral oil, or Vitamin E liquid). I'd apply the oil and rub it
right away with a paper towel.....But
this time I left all the chips in a pot
on mineral oil overnight, and in the morning a found them practically
ruined. As I remember, the main
problem was that rings and crescents
left on the chips where one chip rested on another.
Chip Cleaning Horror
- I was using my soft toothbrush
with Sterling's Magic to clean this Club Savoy chip ("Q" rated).
The sink in which
I was doing the cleaning is made out of stainless steel. Because I
want to disturb the hot stamp, I put my thumb over the center of the
chip. I guess I put a little too much pressure. That,
combined with the
fact that a stainless steel sink flexes, resulted in a "SNAP".
of the story: clean chips on a hard surface, not one that will
Don't clean the hot stamp with a toothbrush, only gently rub the
in with your fingers.
- I bought a $100 Silver Bird (coin
inlay). It so happened that there was a kind of glue or cement on
one side of the chip. I tried most everything. Lacquer
thinner seemed to work. It worked too slow for me. I poured some
Lacquer thinner in a small cup a dropped the chip in.
Unfortunately I lost track of time. Attached is the results of
"too long in the thinner".
- Unfortunately there is no picture
because I "sold" this chip at about $175 loss. This was a $100
from the dig (I think this was a "Q"). I ebayed it for $7.
chip was warped. I put it in the micro at "5" setting for about
seconds. I got about 90% of the warp out. Was I satisfied?
big NO. I put it back in for another 40 seconds. The chip
out flat, BUT the black chip separated from the white and pink
The main black, in effect, shrunk away from the inset which did not
- I got this California Bell Club
50c chip with a bunch of other chips. I didn't need and wanted to
use it as a
trader, but it was dirty. I thought that steam would do a good
it. So I put some water in the tea kettle and waited for it to
I couldn't hold the chip in my fingers, the steam was to hot, so I used
pair of needle nose pliers to hold the chip. The chip started to
clean, but the clay softened from the heat and the pliers left a
Contributors to this
- Ray Betts
- Scott Brodsky
- George Conrad
- Robert Eisenstadt
- Rich Hanover
- Larry Hollibaugh
- Andy Hughes
- Charles Kaplan
- Tyrus Mulkey
- Michael Par
- Pete Porro
- Jim Reilly
- Greg Susong
- Gene Trimble
- Gary Tucker