8 Things That Kill Card Decks

The majority of bridge players I know have a couple of card decks in their collection. Some are simply sentimental, while many players out there might have vintage or rare decks that require special care and particular storage to stay in good condition.

Here’s what to know about the things that kill card decks – and how to restore any worn card deck back to its former glory. 

1. Light

Sunlight has a habit of eventually causing fading and damage.

Preferably, always store card decks as far away from light as possible. Boxes can be purchased for card storage to keep your decks protected (and it’s highly recommended that you do).

2. Moisture 

Cards should be kept away from any liquids, although sometimes accidents happen.

If cards are accidentally exposed to direct moisture, clean it up immediately and wipe the cards dry.

3. Humidity

Humidity refers to any moisture in the air – and of course, this is a huge enemy for card decks. It’s something that varies greatly depending on the weather and where you live. 

Getting a dehumidifier for your card room is always a good idea, especially if the card decks you keep are vintage. Silica packages can also be beneficial for drawing excess moisture out of the air. 

4. Smoke

Smoke is a killer for anything made of paper, fabric or wood. 

While many players still romanticize the idea of a smoke-filled card room or casino, it’s not great for card decks. Smoke, especially tobacco smoke, tends to absorb into card decks and might lead to yellowing, too.

Simple, you want to keep your decks far away from smoke.

5. Dirt

Dirt tends to get around, especially if a card deck is well-used. 

Most card decks can be wiped clean with regular wet wipes to remove dirt and dust. Dry with tissue paper after before putting the deck back into storage. 

6. Oils

Most people have natural oils on their fingers: Unless all the games have been played with gloves or without any hands on the deck, it’s bound to contain traces of it over time.

For keeping oil residue off card decks, wipe immediately after use. For removing anything that remains, there’s corn flour: Place the deck in a baggie, cover in flour and wipe off. (The whole point is absorbing the oils through the flour – and yes, it works in most cases.)

7. Mold

Mold is a certain killer for card decks. 

It’s more likely to happen where items have been stored in a moist or humid environment, or where mold has already taken hold.

At the first signs of mold, immediately remove offending culprits and clean the area (or store cards in a different place). 

8. Bugs

Newer card decks are usually covered in materials that bugs won’t get near – but this isn’t the case when the covering has worn (and usually not the case for many older card decks, either). 

There are plenty of things that help to repel bugs, including moth balls and the fragrance of incense sticks. Cedarwood is also known to be an effective deterrent for bugs. 

3 Tricks for Freshening Up Card Decks

Other than cleaning a card deck properly after use, here are a few more tips for how to keep the deck fresh.

  • Freeze It: For card decks that have lost their natural “spring”, place the deck in a baggie and stick it in the fridge or freezer for a while. Surprisingly, the deck should have some of its natural, first-time feel back at the end of the process.
  • Flour It: For card decks that have accidentally ended up exposed to moisture, excess humidity or oils, corn starch or flower in a baggie can help to absorb it. Wipe and dry the cards properly after, of course.
  • Sand It: For card decks that have become dirty, rough or worn around the sides, very fine sandpaper and a careful touch should do the trick.