Mats are a problem area for many Cricut users. They often feel like Goldilocks – this mat is too sticky and this mat is not sticky enough. Finding the “just right” mat can be tricky. In this guide we will discuss some ways of caring for your mats and making them last as long as possible.
Cutting mats come in various sizes. The smaller ones are 12 x 6, 12 x 8.5 and 12 x 12. The largest one is 12 x 24. The mats have a sticky surface so they hold your paper in place while it is cut.
The mats were not designed to last for the life of your machine. You will need to replace them periodically. However, there are ways to extend the life of your mat which we’ll be talking about in this guide.
Be sure you press the paper down firmly on the mat. This is particularly useful if your mat has just started losing its stickiness. Make sure the paper is firmly stuck to the mat before loading the mat into the machine.
One way to extend the life of your mat is to switch back and forth occasionally from the landscape to portrait mode. This means your cuts will be spread more evenly over the mat. Otherwise the mat will soon start to show wear and tear from the same area being used the most.
I know the mats are supposed to be directional meaning you load it with the arrow pointing toward the machine, but I have known some to say they alternate loading the mat from the bottom to extend the life, so the same area is not always being cut.
One complaint I hear from Cricut users is their new mats are sometimes too sticky. This is a rather easy fix. Get a clean t-shirt or some other clean material and as lint free as possible and simply press it on the mat. It should remove the excess stickiness. Then use a lint roller over the mat. You can also use your hands and pat the mat, the oil from your hands will reduce the tackiness.
Matter of fact, I use a lint roller on my mat after every few cuts. A little lint stuck to the mat or to the blade can ruin your cut and rip the paper.
If your mat has lost its stickiness there are numerous ways to “restick” it. However, it is important to note that if your machine is under warranty that adding adhesive to the mat can void the warranty. So consider your options before deciding to do this, wait until your warranty has expired. Buying a new mat might be a better solution.
Some people use baby wipes to clean their mats or just simply wash the mat with soap and water. You can use your spatula to scrape any excess paper or gunk off your mat. If you don’t have a spatula a credit or gift card will also work.
Cleaning and Resticking Your Mat
After a while your mat will have a variety of gunk stuck to it. One way to clean the mat is with a product called Goo Gone. The first thing you need to do is cover the edges of the mat with blue painter’s tape. You don’t want any cleaning or adhesive product to be on the part of the mat that goes under the rollers in your machine. This can cause your mat to not move through the machine cleanly and to get gunk on the rollers.
After all the edges are covered with tape; spray the mat with the product. Three or four sprays are sufficient. You don’t want to over spray. Then let the mat sit for ten or fifteen minutes.
Then take a small nail brush, a toothbrush will even work, and scrub the mat carefully. The stuff should come off easily. If not, you can spray it again and let the mat sit longer. But most paper remnants and glitter will start to come off. Then get a clean rag and just wipe the mat off.
Next, you’ll need a product called Easy Tac. Spray the mat lightly. Again, you don’t want to over spray. Follow the directions and only use this product in a well-ventilated area. Let the mat sit for at least fifteen minutes before you use it again. You don’t want it to be wet when it goes through your machine. It’s not a bad idea to let it sit overnight before using it again. Don’t forget to remove the tape from the edges when you’re done!
Another product that some users have suggested to restick their mats is Alene’s Tack-it Glues. With this product you’ll need to have a foam brush or sponge and apply a thin layer of the glue to your mat. Add water to the glue in equal parts of glue and water before brushing it on.
Again, be sure it is completely dry before you try to use your mat. It is still important to cover the edges of your mat with tape before you apply any type of glue or adhesive.
I prefer the Easy Tac, myself. But you can try different products and see which works best for you.
Zig Two-Way Glue is another option. Because it comes out blue; you can be sure you’re covering the entire mat since you can see clearly where you’ve applied the glue.
Another option some Cricuter’s use is scotch taping their paper to their mat. They tape their paper on all four sides before loading the mat into their machine. Some use regular tape and others use double sided tape or painters tape. If this works for you it can save you from having to restick your mats.
If you don’t have time to restick the entire mat and wait for it to dry then apply repositionable glue to the back of the card stock or chipboard you’re working on for a quick fix.
Save some of your mats that have lost their sticking power because they still work well enough with gel pens or markers when all you want to do is draw.
Remember; when you’re using any adhesive product on your mat let it completely dry before you try running the mat through the machine. Avoid getting adhesive on the sides of the mat where it can get onto the rollers.
Here’s a real time-saving tip. Have several mats handy with the whole project laid out; now you can cut out all your designs at once.
Problems Loading The Mat
If you have trouble loading the mat into your machine I find that just unloading and reloading sometimes helps. Make sure you are loading the mat with the arrows pointing the right direction. However, I know some crafters who have had luck with loading the mat from a different direction, not the way the arrow was pointing and corrected the problem that way. So try it from a different direction and see if that helps.
Sometimes a slight push down and forward, giving it a gentle nudge will help the mat load.
Make sure the mat is under the plastic guides and not too far to the left or the right. It needs to go into the machine completely straight.
Have you ever tried loading the mat and all it does is vibrate against the rollers or you see the rollers moving, but they don’t grab the mat? Try reducing the pressure for a simple fix.
Also, make sure the mat is not curled in any way. This can sometimes happen when the mat is shipped to you. Try a new mat and see if you still have the same problem.
The life of your mat is affected by how many cuts you make and how deep. Once the mat has enough cuts to make it rough feeling you may start having trouble with your paper tearing. In that case, it’s time to replace the mat or make a new one! (See the video tutorial on making your own mats.)
Make sure all your images are in the cut zone. The Cricut does not cut the full size of the mat. (Unless you know this paper saving tip found in the video tutorial section.) There is a no-cut zone around the edges; it can cause a problem if your images are running over into that border area.
One final tip for all you frugal folks out there, here’s how to get two for the price of one. Have you ever considered cutting a larger mat to make two smaller ones? One 12 x 24 mat suddenly becomes two 12 x 12 mats and a 12 x 12 mat yields two 6 x 12 mats.