13 Simple Hacks on How to Clean and Store Stencils

6 minute read

Stencils are a fantastic way to add patterns and designs to your paper crafting projects. They can be used for scrapbooking or card making and other DIY crafts like stenciling furniture and walls! The best part about using stencils is that you will have an endless supply of different shapes and patterns at your disposal. However, these tools require some care to get the most out of them. Read on for tips on how to clean stencils and some clever storage ideas!

Storage ideas for stencils

Altenew Stencils

What Is a Stencil and How Do You Use Them?

A stencil is a template that’s engraved or cut into thin material, such as paper, plastic, cloth, or metal which is used as a pattern to apply things like paint or ink. The stencil’s design can be words, patterns, letters, or shapes. These handy tools work best on flat surfaces, and depending on the ink or paint you use, and can be used on metal, cardboard, plastic, or any other material. Stencils can be placed on walls, canvas, paper, fabric, and even furniture like couches, chairs, pillows, and more!

In paper crafting, stencils are must-haves! They are easy to use, inexpensive, and render well to a wide variety of crafting techniques. A stencil has two parts: islands, which are the spaces that allow the color to seep through to the material below, and bridges, which are the areas that connect the stencil together.

Stencils for paper crafting

Geometry & Nature Stencil Release Bundle

Here are 5 simple steps on how to use stencils on paper crafts:

  1. Place the stencil on top of your cardstock paper.
  2. Secure the stencil in place using washi tape, purple tape, or repositionable spray adhesive for stencils.
  3. Start adding ink or paint using a stencil brush, ink blending tool, or paddle brush. You may also spray mists, apply embossing paste, or add glitter.
  4. Once you’re satisfied with the result, gently remove the stencil. 
  5. Use baby wipes to clean the stencil’s surface and let it dry. If you use embossing paste or paint, you may soak the stencil in warm water with soap and brush it gently.

Make sure you clean and store stencils as soon as possible after using them. This will prevent them from getting dirty and make it easier to find the stencil you want when you need it. 

At Altenew, our stencils are high quality and unique!

Embossing paste, stencils and palette knife for paper crafting

Palette & Paste Bundle

How to Clean Stencils

The more you use your stencil, the more likely it will get dirty, so make sure to clean them before storing them away again. The last thing you want is a messy, cruddy, and crusty-looking stencil that has been sitting in storage for months. Using stencils in paper crafting projects will involve a range of coloring mediums like dye ink, pigment ink, watercolor, alcohol ink, ink spray, embossing paste, or acrylic paint.

DIY craft made with stencils and paint

Floral Drape Stencil

That being said, you might be wondering how to clean acrylic paint or dye ink from your stencil. We’ve got a few tips and hacks here for you!

  1. Make sure you wipe down the surface of the stencil after every use. Inks are usually easier to remove with wet wipes. Cleaning acrylic paint or embossing paste might be harder to clean and require water, soap, and some cleaning solution. 
  2. Let it dry thoroughly before placing it into storage again. You can air dry it or wipe it with a clean, dry cloth. 
  3. You can use cleaning solutions and adhesive removers like Krud Kutter, Goo Gone, Goof Off, and Dawn stain remover for heavy-duty cleaning.   
  4. Keep out dust when storing stencils by sealing them in an airtight bag, plastic box, or resealable container. 
  5. The best way to remove paint from plastic stencils is by using a soft or slightly damp cloth (wet wipes work wonders, too!). You can clean metal stencils with heavy-duty cleaner but make sure you let them completely dry before storing them for the best results.
  6. Use a palette knife or a laundry brush to scrub dried paste or paint off your stencil.
  7. You may soak the stencil in clean, warm water overnight to remove repositionable spray adhesive for stencils or dried acrylic paint.
  8. Most cleaning solutions are non-toxic, but you can always wear gloves to protect your hands and skin. 
  9. With some stencils, you don’t need a brush to scrub the crud; a cleaning solution or warm, soapy water is enough. However, when cleaning acrylic paint off your stencil, more scrubbing is needed.
  10.  Don’t use your palette knife on intricate and delicate stencil designs. This might ruin it. Use a laundry scrub with stiff bristles instead.
  11. You can use a dry brush, laundry scrubber, or a used toothbrush, preferably a brush with hard bristles to remove any stubborn residue.
  12. You can also use your palette knife to scrape off any stuck-on paint or adhesive gently.
  13. You can always soak your stencil in water and dish soap if you don’t like cleaning solutions or stain removers. This is still the easiest and best way to remove paint from plastic.

Embossing paste for card making

Embossing Paste

If you’re a card maker or scrapbooker looking to level up your handmade projects, then stencil art is a must-try!

How Do You Store Stencils?

Every crafter has a different storage system for their beloved crafting supplies. You probably own one of those IKEA carts and drawers in your craft room. Stencils are relatively easier to store since they are flat and don’t occupy that much space. These tools can be stored independently or with other craft supplies like stamps, dies, embossing folders, and cardstock. The best way to keep your stencils neat and organized is by placing them in an envelope, box, or container.

Embossing folders from Altenew

Altenew Embossing Folders

Here are a few quick tips on how to store stencils:

  1. It's always a good idea to store your stencils away from direct sunlight.
  2. Make sure to store your stencils with both ends tucked in so that they can't flap open and become bent or warped. 
  3. If you want to make it easier to find the specific stencil you want when you need it, try sorting and storing them:
    1. Alphabetically
    2. By size
    3. By design or pattern
    4. By company or brand
  4. Some stencils have a handle that makes them easy to store on their own, but if yours is a flat piece of metal or plastic, you can store it in an envelope or a plastic box to keep it from getting bent or warped.
  5. Here’s an easy solution for your stencil storage problem: storage trays! These nifty little containers will keep your stencils clean and organized while taking up less space than traditional storage methods.
  6. Store in a dry environment away from moisture and humidity.
  7. If you’ve grown your stencil collection, you can store them in a plastic container with a lid. This is the best way to prevent dust and dirt from collecting on them when they are not being used.
  8. You can also store your stencils in plastic ziplock bags or resealable bags. If you do this, make sure not to store them unless they’re completely dry. This is to avoid excess moisture.

Stenciling on DIY journal

Stylish Stencils Release Bundle

If you use stencils in your crafting, it’s essential to clean and store them properly after each project. Stenciling is a messy business - getting repositionable spray adhesive for stencils or embossing paste all over the place can be frustrating. Whether you’re simply trying to figure out how to clean stencils or the best way to remove paint from plastic stencils, we hope this quick read was helpful! Your stencil will last longer if you follow these tips and hacks. Let us know how long your old favorite stencil has been around in the comment section below. 

As always, if you’re looking for stenciling inspiration and ideas, our All About Crafting page is the best place to visit! 

Ready to start your stencil art project? Check out our arts and crafts stencils!


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