How to clean board games

Almost all households have board games; some come out occasionally, others are used frequently. Despite the frequency of use however, handling of the game pieces will get them soiled and dirty. This should not be a deterrent to enjoying your game or an indication that it’s time to throw them out. With a little know-how and patience, most, if not all board games can be cleaned.

Tools:

• Sponge
• Mild soap
• Warm water
• Vinegar

What to do:

Determine the type of material the game is made from as this will dictate how you go about cleaning it. It is also best to start off by cleaning a board game that is easily replaceable instead of an antique or family heirloom.

• Make mild soapy water and dampen the sponge
• Separate the pieces from the container
• Clean the container, vacuuming the box to remove dust. Make sure to get into the corners, even if the inside of the box seems clean, still do some dusting.
• Next, clean the pieces themselves. Clean the pieces in a circular motion with the damp sponge. If the soap and water does not work try using some vinegar
• Make sure the game is dry before replacing inside the storage container
• Finally, make sure the area where the games are stored is also clean.

Some games need special treatment, such as Chinese checkers which will need to be vacuumed to remove collected dust from the holes in the board.

Board games where the pieces are made of wood must not be cleaned against the grain. If the piece is painted, take extra care to use a sponge that is damp, and not wet.

Pay careful attention while cleaning the game pieces and stop if you notice any signs of damage such as letters or numbers fading, or paint chipping.

Some board game pieces can be washed if they are made of plastic or other such material, but do ensure that they are properly dried before storing.

To keep your games smelling fresh, even if stored for long periods of time, place one or two pieces of fabric softener sheet inside the storage container.

Periodically, vacuum the storage area to keep the area and games as dust free as possible. If the games are not used often, a twice per year cleaning is recommended, especially if the game is a family ‘treasure’. Keeping board games clean is not just a way to maintain their life and keep them looking good, but can be healthy as well. Germs and bacteria can be transferred when playing with games, so cleaning them periodically will minimize this.

To help keep your board games clean it is also a good idea to handle them with clean hands. Remember that grease stains can be hard to remove, and in some cases grease spots can permanently stain the material.

So before condemning an old board game to the dustbin, try cleaning it first. The results may surprise you.