Friday, April 10, 2020

How to Clean Resin Tools

Every hobby requires you to outlay some money, whether it's for tools or consumables. 

In resin crafting, you can't avoid spending money on consumable items like resin, colourants and moulds. They are the things that you will keep replenishing as you run out. 

But there are items you can SAVE MONEY on; things like mixing/measuring cups and stir sticks.

When you first start out on your resin adventure, most beginners use disposable plastic cups (or Dixie cups) and wooden stir sticks. They're inexpensive, convenient and very easy to find. But after a while, you start to see how many of these items you are throwing away and start thinking, there has to be a better way.

And there is!

You can replace disposable cups and stir sticks with reusable cups and stirrers made of polypropylene (PP). 

Why polypropylene? 

Because resin doesn't stick to it and it's sturdy so it can be reused.

You can tell if a cup is polypropylene by the recycling symbol on the bottom of the cup.
The recycling symbol used for polypropylene plastics
Apart from their reusability (good for your pocket and good for the planet!), you'll also find that polypropylene stirring wands produce dramatically fewer bubbles during mixing, so switching to PP stirrers is a WIN-WIN.

Another option is to choose silicone cups and silicone stir sticks (these are awesome!!).

Both polypropylene and silicone are safe to use with resin. Resin doesn't stick to either of these, so tools made from these two materials are the ideal choice for working with resin.

Whether you choose PP or silicone cups and stirrers, you can be assured that you'll be able to use them over and over before having to replace them.

And now that you know why it makes sense to switch over to these materials, you need to know how to clean them so that they can be reused again and again.

Cleaning Mixed or Unmixed Resin from PP Stirring Wands

Keeping your mixing tools clean and ready for use is essential so that you don't get contaminants in your next batch of resin.

And this is best done when the resin is still liquid (you'll understand why further down).

You'll need a square of toilet tissue and some methylated spirits (denatured alcohol) and gloves. (Always wear nitrile)

Fold the square of toilet tissue so you have a couple of layers and wipe the resin off both sides of the stirrer.
Wiping a smear of yello resin from a plastic spatula across a piece of tissue.

Double a fresh square of toilet tissue and wet it with the methylated spirits. Now place the stirrer inside the layers of tissue and run it back and forth to clean off the rest of the resin.
Wiping the plastic spatula clean with a piece of tissue that has been soaked in solvent

Leave it dry for a few minutes and voilà! It's ready for re-use. Easy!
A cleaned plastic spatula ready for re-use.

Cleaning Cured Resin from PP Stirring Wands

I prefer not to allow the resin to cure on the stirring wands. But there are times when you get distracted and forget to clean them straight away. When this happens, let the resin cure completely. You'll need to use a sharp knife to lift an edge so you can peel the resin away. Be very careful doing this, as slipping can leave you with a nasty cut.
Using a utility knife to lift the edge of cured resin from a plastic spatula

Once you've got it started, you can pull the resin off. 

If it's a thin skin, it will probably tear so you might have to do this a few times to completely peel it off. And this is why it's best to clean the stirrer while the resin is still liquid!
Peeling off all traces of cured resin from the plastic stirrer.

Nevertheless, this method works and will clean up your stirring wand so that it's ready to reuse (even if it is a bit tedious!!).
A utility knife, a cleaned plastic spatula and the cured resin that has been removed

Cleaning Resin from Silicone Stirrers

There's nothing to stop you from cleaning silicone stirrers whilst the resin is still liquid but I'm always cautious about using alcohol on silicone because alcohol dries out silicone. In time, the resin won't release as easily from it... plus, it shortens the life of the silicone. 

I also find that lint from the tissue can stick to the silicone after cleaning. But if you need to use the silicone stirrer again straight away and you have bits of lint left behind, you can clean the fluff off easily with a piece of adhesive tape. 

For cleaning silicone tools, I prefer to let the resin cure first. Cured resin is easy to remove from silicone which is why it makes such a good mould material.

Here's how I do it:

  • Leave the stirrer standing upright in the cup to cure. 
  • Once the resin has cured, squeeze the sides of the cup to release the resin.
Gloved hand holding a plastic cup with a silicone stirrer standing up in cured resin

  • Remove the stirrer and the resin from the cup.
Removing a silicone stirrer standing in a cup of cured resin

  • Hold the resin plug in one hand and the stirrer in the other and wiggle it until it comes free. It will release easily.
Removing a silicone stirrer from the cured resin left in the bottom of a cup

  • If there's any resin left behind on the stirrer, press a piece of adhesive tape firmly across the resin.
A hand holding a silicone stirrer with a piece of adhesive tape pressed across the silicone

  • Peel the tape off the stirrer, and the resin will come with it.
Pulling a piece of adhesive tape off the silicone stirrer along with the cured resin

Repeat until all the resin is removed and the stirrer is completely clean. Now it's ready for your next casting session.
Polypropylene cup, silicone stirrer and a cured plug of resin sitting on a Teflon craft sheet

If you've made the switch to polypropylene or silicone measuring cups, then the next thing you need to know is the easy way to Clean Your Mixing Cups.

Pin this Tip!
Inspiration Sheet showing small plastic measuring cup with silicone stirrer being held in a gloved hand on a wooden table top

Happy Resining!

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Would you like to comment?

  1. thank you for this article :)
    hoping for more tips :)

    1. Hi Marielle
      I'm glad you found these tips helpful. If you'd like more useful tips like these, join my email list. My subscribers get tips like these delivered direct to their inbox every week.


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