It's traded hand to hand, shuffled from one side of the table to the next, and tossed back into the pot time and time again. It sees a lot of action, and represents everything that you bring to the table. Of course you've guessed it; I'm referring to the darling of the table, the poker chip.
Poker chips get handled, tossed and raked by everyone at the table. It's at this time when poker chips tend to pick up not only body oils from the players hands and fingers, but also tiny bits of food and beverages always present at a poker game. After repeated exposure to these conditions, poker chips can begin to change in appearance. The buildup of oils and food particles which get deposited during play will turn any shiny poker chip turn into a grimy token no one wants to pick up.
If your poker chips are beginning to offend your senses, then it's most definitely time to clean them. Just how you clean them comes down to personal preference, but there are a few general guidelines you can follow to keep your poker chips in pristine fashion, without damaging the chips. Please note that the following suggestions do not cover the cleaning of vintage poker chips. You are advised to seek out a qualified professional to clean vintage poker chips.
Although the choice in cleaning supplies seems limitless, when it comes to cleaning poker chips your choices are considerably narrowed down for you. In fact, there are three very important properties that your chosen poker chip cleanser must possess before it can be considered for use. To prevent damage to your poker chips, make your choice wisely.
When choosing the cleanser you intend to use, it's important to remember the cleanser must pass the following three very crucial criteria:
Removes Grime Buildup. The cleanser should be able to remove the aforementioned body oils and food particles adequately.
Leaves Ink Intact. The last thing you want is to remove the ink from your poker chips while cleaning. Be sure the cleanser isn't harsh enough to dissolve ink.
Leaves Poker Chips Hydrated. It may sound a little strange, but poker chips do need a certain level of moisture left in them, or they will become brittle. Avoid using agents such as rubbing alcohol, as it can remove ink and dry out your poker chips.
Some of the cleansers that veteran poker players use to clean their poker chips are mild hand dishwashing detergent, Sterling Magic and Armor All Multi-Purpose Cleaner. When using the Armor All, be sure you get the multi purpose cleaner and not the Armor All tire cleaner or other Armor All products as they will damage your poker chips. Another popular cleanser to use is called Quick'n'Brite. When used properly, all the above mentioned cleansers will clean your poker chips without any harmful side effects.
When cleaning poker chips, it's best to use a very soft-bristled baby toothbrush, or a very soft cotton towel. Pay special attention to protecting the center design. Try keeping your thumb over the center of the poker chip while using the toothbrush around the outer edge.
Rinse the poker chips in a bowl of water and wipe them dry with a soft towel or terry cloth. After a good gentle cleaning, you can add extra shine by giving them a dip in baby oil to restore luster. As always, due diligence is required by testing your cleaning method on one poker chip to see if you get the desired results.