Is Your Polymer Clay Oven Making Your Beads All Dirty & Discolored?

Polymer Clay Bleach Cleaning Technique

Now There Is Simple Solution. Martha Aleo of Ornamento Says To Use Bleach:

This morning while surfing (blog’s that is, not waves), I came across a simple polymer clay technique that I’ve never seen before. So simple in fact that it falls under the “Why-didn’t-I-think-of-that” category. The basic idea is to use a bleach bath to brighten up clay beads and pendants that have darkened or become discolored during the baking process. Credit goes to the clever and talented Martha Aleo of Ornamento for this idea.

When I read Martha’s post, it made me think… What beginner to polymer clay hasn’t had the problem of light colored clays getting dark or discolored during baking?! This is something we all should know and it must be passed on to you!

So if you end up with a polymer clay bead or project where the color has darkened or gone funny, you can plop it into a container of bleach. Put the lid on and let it sit! After a while, the piece will be restored to it’s original glory!

Since I just found out about this technique today, I have not had a chance to try it out myself. So the photo above displays the before and after pics from Martha Aleo’s polymer clay bleaching experiment.

The cool thing is that the bleach doesn’t actually remove or change any of the actual polymer clay colors. What I mean is, after bleaching, black is still black and red is still red. Which leads me to believe the bleach is only affecting the ‘film’ that has come from the dirty air in the oven.

That is probably why a cleaner oven causes less discoloration on light colored clays. As well as tenting your beads with a sheet of parchment paper or completely burying them in a layer of cornstarch keeps them brighter. Additional Resource: How to Bake Polymer Clay so that Your Whites Stay White

So if you have some polymer clay beads, pendants or other small projects that came out of the oven darker than they went in, give Martha Aleo’s idea a try and soak them in some bleach!

Just one more reason why you should never throw out your polymer clay mistakes. Cause you never know when a new idea will come along on how you can fix them! Thank you Martha!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Cindy Erickson, 10 January, 2009

    Thanks for the cool tip! I’ll have to remember this one!

  2. Cindy Lietz, 10 January, 2009

    You’re welcome Cindy E. I think it is cool too!

  3. Betsy Cross, 11 January, 2009

    Hi Cindy!

    Thanks so much for your sweet comment on the Modish blog. I am so new to this blog world, it’s really neat to see all the amazing talent circulating the net!

    All the best,

  4. Cindy Lietz, 11 January, 2009

    You are so welcome Betsy! I am crazy about your jewelry… You have the coolest style! Glad you you popped by!

  5. Lupe Meter, 11 January, 2009

    Thanks for the tip Cindy. Who would have thought…next time I will have to try it on some of my dull old pieces.

  6. Diana Philpott, 11 January, 2009

    What a wonderful easy tip. I am going to try it out tonight on a piece and see what it does. Thanks so much for passing this info on. I really appreciate your site and wish I had time to try everything out.

  7. Iris Mishly, 12 January, 2009

    i have to try this one, it sounds so wierd but i have to give it a try! :) thanks!

  8. Cindy Lietz, 12 January, 2009

    @Lupe: I’ve been meaning to dig through my unsanded beads to see if there are any dark ones to try this on. Ever since I’ve been tenting my beads I haven’t had problem with them darkening!

    @Diana: Thanks! Do let us know how it works for you!

    @Iris: I know what you mean about it sounding weird! Let us know how it works for you.

  9. Jocelyn@Translucent Sculpey Clay, 29 May, 2009

    Well, go figure, it works. Just dusting off a bunch of my old stuff and read somewhere that if you soak your polymer clay pieces containing white or transparent, in bleach, it will whiten the colors and increase transparency.

    Threw a couple of pieces in the bottom of a bucket, added 1/4 c. bleach and about 2 gallons of water, and let it soak last nite.

    Wish I had a digital camera so I could show the results. Amazing!!! It really did work.

    Would try it first with old stuff, and save a companion piece for comparison. Let me know if you have similar results!

  10. Sarahwww, 06 June, 2009

    Great hint! I just had a batch that I forgot was still in my “cooker” when I turned it on for a new batch. They got a little toasty. I’ll definitely try this.

  11. Kim C., 06 June, 2009

    Ahh!!! Something else I need to do! Thanks for the tip Cindy!

  12. Cindy Lietz, 09 June, 2009

    @Jocelyn: I know, it’s cool how well it works, isn’t it?! The thought just popped into my head… I wonder if Peroxide would work for bleaching beads too? It works for clothes. It might work here too.

    @sarahwww: You’re welcome! Let us know how it works for you.

    @Kim C: Yeah me too! I haven’t done it in awhile and it’s looking pretty grungy!

  13. Jocelyn, 08 July, 2010

    Tried peroxide, baking soda, vinegar, and that new stuff…

    Also tried muriatic acid, lemon juice, and sunshine. Oh, and one nite, mayonnaise and Miracle Whip. Cleans grease off great, love the shine.

    Conclusion? Depends on the effect you want. The etching that occurs in the foaming vinegar and baking soda bath is great if you like a satin finish buffed.

    Bleach, regular store bought, works the best on all types of clay…even the transparent stuff. Just let it go, and check it occasionally.

    I need Bill Nye and a white lab coat….lol!

  14. Jocelyn, 08 July, 2010


  15. RuthAnn T, 03 November, 2012

    do you have any results for this over time? bleach will eventually ruin plastic so i’m curious to know how the pieces stand up over time and if there is any residual effect on the sealers used on the clay. it sounds like a great rescue. to be sure you stop the bleaching action maybe use a peroxide wash.

  16. Cindy Lietz, 09 November, 2012

    Hi Ruth, good question! I haven’t seen any adverse affects to using bleach on polymer clay myself. The exposure to the bleach is not really a long term thing and then once it is removed I don’t believe that there is any residual bleach to effect the clay over a long period of time. From my understanding, the chlorine in bleach ‘gases’ off very quickly. This is not ‘Scientific Evidence’ however, since I haven’t done an official ‘in the test lab’ study on the subject. So you may want to do some testing yourself to be sure.

    In regards to it wrecking sealers on the clay, I generally wouldn’t use bleach on a bead with a coating. The only time I have bleached any piece, is when it came out of a dirty oven and had some darkening and discoloration on it. (Which hasn’t been a problem for years since I now use a separate oven for baking my clay.)

    If there was a finish on it and I still wanted to try bleaching it, I would remove the finish first using rubbing alcohol. Then I would bleach.

    Your idea to neutralize the bleach with a peroxide wash sounds interesting. I haven’t heard of that before. Will have to test that sometime and see how it works!

    Thanks for your comment! If you do some testing in this area, do come back and let us know your results… it is always best when we can learn from each other!

  17. Maria Casey, 24 March, 2020

    Hi Cindy,
    It’s fun to look at your old blog entries.
    During these strange times in March 2020, I have started to bake up color chips. I was surprised when my Cad Yellow chip came out a dark caramel color, while other colors baked at the same time, didn’t seem to be affected as much.
    I think my oven needs cleaning – it is a KitchenAid just like yours. What can I do to fix it?

  18. Cindy Lietz, 27 March, 2020

    Hi Maria, that sounds weird that your Cad Yellow turned so dark. If your oven was that dirty, you would think your other colors would have had an issue as well. I would do another test and see if the same thing happens. Perhaps there is a hot spot somewhere? Or maybe there is something wrong with that batch of Cad Yellow? How are you baking them? Are they protected from both underneath and over top? I would make a few more swatches and bake them in different spots in your oven. Also bake some white along side and see if it changes color too. I’d love to get to the bottom of this!

  19. Maria Sadovnikov Casey, 28 March, 2020

    I baked the Cad Yellow again, on the bead rack on a card as I always do, plus used another card as a tent.
    It came out Brown again!

    Then I baked it nestled inside corn starch and it was fine!!!!
    But yes, so weird – the yellow trans which was baked together with the Cad yellow came out perfectly. – I can’t imagine it’s a hot spot …

    yes, I hope you have some more ideas, Cindy…getting curiouser and curiouser!

  20. Cindy Lietz, 28 March, 2020

    Ok, that is really weird. I have no answer for you that makes any sense. I really don’t think a dirty oven would effect only one of the colors. I would suspect that there was something wrong with the Cad Yellow but it was fine in the cornstarch, so that doesn’t make sense. I am entirely stumped!

  21. Cindy Lietz, 28 March, 2020

    Maria that is sooo weird. I cannot think of a single reason that makes sense. I was going to say, maybe it’s the clay but when you said it was fine in the cornstarch, that doesn’t make sense. I also do not think it is a dirty oven, because if it were, the other colors would be affected. This has me totally stumped!!

  22. Cindy Lietz, 28 March, 2020

    LOL My first answer didn’t show up, so I answered again and as you can see from the two comments, my advice is the same! :)

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