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How to Clean Sports Cards for Grading

Clean Sports Trading Cards For Grading

Learn how to clean sports cards for grading upon submission to PSA or other authentication providers. Cleaning sports cards requires patience, steady hands, and proper preparation to prevent additional damage. 

We share the best steps to clean sports cards for grading, giving you an advantage upon submission.

Our guide will explain each tool you need and the technique you should use when cleaning trading cards for grading. 

It all starts with preparing your supplies. Understanding which tools to use will make the process easier and less risky. Next, we will go over what it takes to clean football cards and more. 

Let's dive in: 

3 Tools For Cleaning Trading Cards Safely 

1. Microfiber Cloth: Getting a small, thin microfiber cloth will help remove minor dirt and debris without harming the surface. The best part is how it leaves no lint or streaks on trading cards once you wipe them using this material. 

In addition, it's excellent at removing smudges, dust, and fingerprints while absorbing oil and moisture.

2. Magnifying Lamp: Cleaning the card using a magnifying lamp lights up areas of the card the human eye wouldn't naturally pick up, and it allows you to see any surface debris or smudges more clearly.

3. Disposable gloves: Avoid touching raw cards using your fingers because of the natural sweat and grease on them. 

Instead, use disposable gloves to keep the cards in mint condition when cleaning and not add more damage to the surface. 

Best Way To Clean Sports Cards Before PSA Submission

Use a soft cloth (nothing abrasive) and gently wipe off any fingerprints or dirt. If something is challenging and not coming off, you can gently exhale hot air on the card to fog it up and try cleaning again.

Please do not use any water or other liquids as it could damage the card. Consider if the card is worth submission in the first place since it's become dirty or dusty. 

Ideally, you want to submit cards with the highest chance of getting a grade of 9 or 10 since the value can decrease if graded as a 4 or 5. 

Use the following steps to avoid making a mistake: 

  1. Examine the card surface with a magnifying glass for dust or tiny printings.
  2. Remove cards from card sleeves while wearing latex gloves or cleansing your hands before touching them. 
  3. Gently massage the whole surface of the card on both sides with your microfiber cloth.

Here's more details: 

How to Prevent Damaging Cards When Cleaning

The better condition card it's in, the higher the grade it will receive, making it go up in value when looking to sell it.

Taking the time to clean these cards before submitting them will ensure you the best opportunity to get the highest grade. 

Knowing what graders look for will help you know what you should or shouldn't do when cleaning.

For example, you need to avoid touching the corners of the card while cleaning the card. Since PSA graders specifically look for how 'sharp' the corner is, and if they see that a card has round corners, it receives a lower grade. 

Here's a list of what graders look for and will explain how you can avoid these submitting cards with these errors. But, again, it's all about your preparation and technique. 

1. Corners: How sharp are they? 

You shouldn't submit a card that's dropped on its corner. When holding those cards while cleaning, do not accidentally lay them on their corners or bump the corners into the table. 

2. Centering: Is the image centered in the middle of the card? Do the borders line up? 

The cards have already been printed this way for centering, so you'll want to exclude this card from submission when you see it's not centered. 

A card that's not centered will receive a lower grade than those that are centered. 

3. Scratches: Do you see dents, scruffs, or scratches when shining a light on it? 

4. Chipped Edges: Does the edge show whiteness? Has the card been sided look white?

How to Prevent Damaging Cards After Cleaning

Always put the card directly back into a protector. There are many forms and ways to protect cards; however, these are the most effective: 

  1. Penny Sleeves: Each sleeve provides a thin layer of protection against natural finger oil. 
  2. Top Loaders: These prevent physical damage to the corners or bending of the cards. 
  3. Team Bags: Per the bag size, it prevents movement and seals the top loader opening. 
  4. Painters Tape: Use tape to seal the card within the team bags to prevent dust. 

Each does not cost a lot, and they can save you from ruining a trading sports card with tremendous value.

Why Clean Sports Trading Cards Before PSA Grading 

It's essential to give the grader a great first impression of the card and its condition. A high grade on a score increases the value and attracts new buyers. We hope you find these simple actions and processes helpful. 

Mainly to ensure the surfaces on both sides of each card are entirely clean and free of dust, smudges, and fingerprints. 

Also, these tools, like a magnifying glass, can make a difference when looking for dust or microscopic printings on the card's surface. 

They are taking the time to analyze these cards before a purchase can save you a lot of headaches and pain upon receiving them. And it's even better when they are in mint condition, and you can send them off to get a professional grade. 

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