A Polymer Clay How To Tip for Making Beads Using White Fimo Clay

Using Rubbing Alcohol to Clean White Fimo Clay

Vid #72: For making jewelry beads with bright white clay, always keep rubbing alcohol handy for cleaning:


Have you ever been frustrated after your pasta machine left streaks of color on some brand new white polymer clay that you ran through it? Well there’s no need to worry because rubbing alcohol works great for cleaning the surface of light-colored clays when they get dirty.

Fimo, Premo, Sculpey and Kato Clay can get dirty in a few different ways. Since all polymer clay brands are sticky to some degree, they can easily pick up dust, hair and residues from your work area and tools.

One tool very prone to getting dirty is your pasta machine. Scraper blades inside of the machine are meant to keep the rollers clean. But unfortunately they don’t always do their job very well. Trapped bits of clay left behind from previous bead making projects are what cause the streaking or spotting issues mentioned earlier.

This can be a huge problem when working with light colored and dark colored clays back to back. Dark colors will leave streaks of color onto sheets of light colors and vice versa.

This is the very reason why some professional clayers have two pasta machines in their studio. One dedicated to lights and the other only to be used for dark clay.

If two pasta machines seems a little over the top for you, all is not lost. As I said earlier, all you need to do is keep some rubbing alcohol handy to clean off the surface of your polymer clay when it gets dirty. And while you’re at it, use your rubbing alcohol soaked paper towel to clean out your pasta machine as well.

Bonus Tip: Rubbing alcohol works pretty good for wiping away fingerprints from clay as well. For 7 additional techniques to keep those nasty finger prints at bay, read this article: Polymer Clay Beads That Look Professional

So when your making beads using white polymer clay… and you actually want your beads to end up looking bright white… then today’s polymer clay how to tip is for you. Always keep some rubbing alcohol handy.

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The full version of the Rubbing Alcohol preview video shown above, is available for purchase at my Polymer Clay Bead Making Videos Library in the Volume-005 Back Issue Package.

In this Rubbing Alcoholvideo tutorial I show you what can happen to white fimo clay when you don’t keep your pasta machine clean… and more importantly, what to do about it.

  1. Cindy Lietz, 27 July, 2008

    You can also use rubbing alcohol to clean your work surface and your polymer clay knife. Clay rolls out smoother and easier on a clean surface and canes slice better with a nice clean blade!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Handmade Jewelry from Polymer Clay Rose Beads and Ghost Cane Beads

  2. Sue, 27 July, 2008

    Cindy, I think you need to change the name of your blog to “Psychic Polymer Clay Tutor”.
    As I peruse your topics I’m struck by often you cover topics JUST AS I NEED THEM! Tonight I was experimenting with the mokume gane technique with clayshades of blue (one very light),and translucent and silver leaf…I was watching my favorite reality show and mindlessly conditioning my clay when I looked down to discover a purple streak right down the center!
    I think the rubbing alcohol would have worked if I’d caught it sooner…as it was, it was compact enough that I could cut it out and reshape the clay..;but I’ll have a bottle of ETOH at the ready in the future!

  3. Marianne Huber, 29 July, 2008

    Sue, you are so right about Cindy being psychic. I definitely need to be more conscious about cleaning up after each color. Today, I was working with red clay and cannot get the red off of my hands. (I am going to try the rubbing alcohol on my hands) Well if my hands are so stained I can imagine what my work area will be like by the time I am done.

  4. Cindy Lietz, 29 July, 2008

    @Sue: What’s your favorite reality show? I’m curious! Sorry I wasn’t Psychic enough that I could have warned you before making the mistake!

    @Marianne: The rubbing alcohol will work on your hands but you may find it drying. Try baby wipes or baby oil instead. It’s a little easier on the hands!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Slicing Fimo Nail Art Canes | Sculpey Polymer Clay Cake Toppers

  5. Garnie, 30 July, 2008

    Sue is definitely right here…you ARE psychic!! :) Or how about maybe it’s ESP? Was just “trying” rubbing alcohol last night on stained/streaky white clay..and it works soooo good!
    (baby wipes are great, too)

  6. Marianne Huber, 30 July, 2008

    I just got some baby oil to try on my next trip I will get baby wipes. what a great site, I really get energized when I read all of the great tips and ideas.

  7. Cindy Lietz, 30 July, 2008

    @Garnie: That’s too funny! Would really love a little ESP skills though… would help with parenting and so many things!!

  8. Cindy Lietz, 30 July, 2008

    That’s great Marianne! I find it funny, kids grown up and I’m still buying baby wipes and baby oil!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Millefiori Beads by Polymer Clay Cane Artist Iris Mishly [Israel]

  9. Carol Cooper, 27 October, 2008

    Hi Cindy:
    I had to really laugh when I saw this simple, but very clever trick to clean white clay. I can’t tell you how many times, I decided that my white clay was going to have to be mixed with something else because of the colour that was being picked up off of my past machine.
    I’m really glad that I bought my membership, because now that money has saved me much more in white clay.

  10. Cindy Lietz, 28 October, 2008

    Yeah I know! When I filmed it I thought is this too simple?… Then I thought, this one tiny trick alone has saved me tons of grief! Everyone should know about it! I’m glad it was helpful for you!

    Thank you so much for purchasing the membership and all your kind comments! It is because of people like you, all the time, money and effort I’ve put into this is worth it! Thanks again Carol!

  11. Maria, 28 October, 2008

    Hooray! How simple and effective. I was thinking of getting a “white-dedicated” pasta machine… but now I don’t have to. Thanks for saving me some money.

  12. Cindy Lietz, 28 October, 2008

    You’re welcome Maria! Thank you for the comment!

  13. Melanie T, 22 July, 2009

    Hello! I have a silly question. Would a Fimo holeless bead swell or crumble if permanently submerged in baby oil? Thanks!

  14. Cindy Lietz, 23 July, 2009

    Hi Melanie! Are you making a snow globe or something? I actually don’t know how polymer clay will hold up submerged in oil. That is something you would have to test. I do know it will hold up in water though. Let me know how your experiment turns out!

  15. Kaz T, 05 July, 2015

    Hi Cindy! I am sooooo loving your site and tutorials!!
    What is the best way to ensure that polymer clay items in snow globes last? I have read so many articles about this and they all conflict so I need an “expert” opinion please! So here are my (many!) questions:
    Can I use, water with glycerine added? Will the glycerine effect the clay? Do I need to seal the clay first? If so what is best as I know that water based sealers are better for polymer clay but will that work when constantly submerged in water? Is there a clear liquid clay or similar that stays fluid for the snow that would be better?

    I have loads of white polymer clay that I want to use up so what is best to colour it? I have seen chalks used but surely they “wash” off in water. Can I use acrylic paint? If I use either of these does that effect what sealer I need to use?

    Sorry, but as you can see I am going round in circles over what is the best way to do these and my budget is very limited so I want to buy the right things first time.

  16. Kaz T, 05 July, 2015

    Does the baking process ensure the chalk colouring stays on perhaps?

  17. Cindy Lietz, 14 July, 2015

    Once baked on chalk does stick onto the clay pretty good, but it doesn’t hurt to seal it with a finish. There are several options for finishes. Just type finishes into the search box and you should be able to find the answers you need.

  18. Cindy Lietz, 14 July, 2015

    Ooops I forgot to address the snow globe question…

    Polymer clay on it’s own does not need a sealer to be waterproof. It is a plastic and does fine in the water. Paints caulks and other finishes may not do so well in the water though. So I would stick to colored clay, rather than white. You can tint clay with inks and paints though, so you could experiment with that.

    As far as glycerin and polymer clay compatibility goes… I have no idea. I just bought some recently so it is something that I plan to do a test lab on, but it is not currently being tested, so the results will be quite some time from now.

    Let us know if you try to make a snow globe, and how it turns out. Good luck!

  19. Monica E, 21 July, 2013

    Hi Cindy,

    I am new to polymer clay and I of course am jumping in all the way. LOL I am making clay horses that look like my sisters actual horses for her for her birthday. They are a beautiful bunch of paint horses but unfortunately for me that means using white and brown together. When I try to shape and smooth them out I keep getting brown residue on the white. These guys love to be dirty so I can blame it on that and that I did it on purpose but I sure would like for them to be nice and white. Can you point me in the right direction? You may already have a video on this and I just haven’t found it yet.

    Thanks for your time. :-)

  20. Tante Sherry, 22 July, 2013

    Hi Monica E – you might try rubbing alcohol on some paper towel to wipe the darker clay away from the lighter colors
    I go through a lot of both keeping my work area and hands clean:)

  21. Tante Sherry, 22 July, 2013

    LOL- for pity sake – I just saw that this whole page is about rubbing alcohol!!! anyway it does work;)

  22. Jocelyn C, 10 August, 2013

    Another thing to try to remove surface stuff from clay demoed on YouTube, is to use a nail sanding block, and gently sand the surface of the unbaked clay. It really did remove surface dust and bits.

  23. Mini H, 25 May, 2014

    Hi…i like your art..n m aldo making polymer jewellary..bt after baking spray a gloss on neckset so…be sticky..m very dipressed .my 8 to 10 neckset is waste..so plz guide me that rrmove stickyness on beads..help me…sorry my english not well…thanku do much..your many tutorial i wachting always n cery useful to me…thanku…reply plz..

  24. Cindy Lietz, 26 May, 2014

    Hi Mini, most sprays are not compatible with polymer clay and will react with the chemicals in the spray and the clay… making it sticky over time. See if you can remove the spray with rubbing alcohol or acetone (nail polish remover might work too). Then use a finish that is compatible with polymer clay. Type the word finishes into the search box at the top o the page and you will get a list of posts that should help you. Good luck!

  25. Tina S, 15 July, 2015

    im just getting started making memorial beads. so far my favorite is white clay with dried red roses. what kind of sealer should I use to protect them after I have baked them?

  26. Cindy Lietz, 17 July, 2015

    Hi Tina, it isn’t actually necessary to seal your beads, but if you want to there are plenty of options. Type the word finishes or glazes into the search box and you will find lots of info on the subject.

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