How To Salvage Wet YuGiOh Cards: the Do's & Don'ts
Yu-Gi-Oh is an ever-evolving card game with new strategies and archetypes released every few months, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, every deck in the game released to date- regardless of however many negates it can pump out- remains weak to one thing in particular (pipe down Kaiju fans, we ain't talking about y'all): water. A $20 flower cardian deck and a $700 dragon link deck both find themselves equally vulnerable to the cardboard-bending, luster-fading and wrinkle-inducing havoc that is water damage. Duelists understandably resort to quite expensive measures to protect their cards from damage in general and card sleeves, deck boxes, binders and game mats all offer some element of protection in their utility.
Unfortunately, while these methods are impenetrable by dust and grime, none of them are foolproof against the element of water and any duelist worth his salt has had at least one experience where water took its tool on his favorite hobby. Whether you tripped and scattered your cards in the wet grass or your mum washed your deck along with your jeans, you've undoubtedly seen the catastrophic influence of water on your favorite shiny cardboard. In this week's special article, Adilsons covers all the DOs and DONTs for you to remember should the next time your shiny cardboard get drenched.
DOs and DONTs of Cleaning The Card
Water is bad. Dirty water is worse. Muddy water is usually a lost cause. Here's how to make the card a bit more presentable.
DO Clean The Card With Water
If your card fell into dirty water, remember this- once that water dries, even if the structural integrity of your card is preserved, all the dirty particulate contaminants in that water will stick to the surface of your card and be almost impossible to remove. The only way to get it off is to VERY gently run clean water over your card from an angle as close to horizontal as you can. Running water over the card may seem counter-intuitive, but remember that water doesn't tear the card; moving it around does! All the same, use your better judgment on how much water to use for cleaning, as it will generally reduce the shine and lighten the colours of your cards. Foil cards can withstand a bit more water for obvious reasons, especially ultimate rares (you don't wanna know how we know that).
DON'T Brush/Scratch At The Card
Don't attempt to use anything other than the flow of water to drag away the dirt; if it doesn't go away, leave it there. Your PSA dreams died the moment your card got wet anyway, and the specks are now a permanent part of the card and there to stay. Don't attempt to scratch it out or you might not be left with a playable card at all! This applies to all forms of contact and friction removal- toothpaste bristles, paint brushes, toothpicks and everything else that would directly apply any form of pressure on the card should never be considered for restoration attempts.
DOs and DONTs of Removing The Sleeve
Sleeves are only your friends while the cards are dry. They're as inconvenient as wet clothes. Here's how to get them off:
DO Cut Away the Sleeve
If the card just got wet and hadn't had any opportunity to start drying, the easiest way to get it out of the sleeve is to simply cut away the latter. Place the sleeved card on a flat surface and gently cut away the transparent sleeve plastic perpendicular to the card. Once the sleeve has been split down the middle, cut away the two split halves and merely peel away the wet card. If it's wet enough, this will happen without any tearing, so make sure that you don't use this method on a card that's already had a few minutes to start drying; these will stick and you'll rip them off like sticky labels on a plastic container. (Don't worry, go to our next DO if that's the case!)
DON'T Freeze The Card
Easier said than done and a fool's errand, no less. If you aren't 100% confident in your abilities, never ever go for this method, although you'll see it being tossed around on a few self-help forums online
The idea is to get the water within the sleeve to freeze into ice, which can then be chipped away from the card. What they don't tell you is that not only will this shrink and horribly wrinkle up the foil cards, but the ice (and the sleeve it's frozen stuck to) will be next to impossible to pry off without tearing off bits of the card in the process. You can wait for it to start thawing, but guess what- you're back to step one.
DO Place The Sleeved Card in The Sun
Just avoid direct sunlight and never place it with the transparent side facing the sun, or else you'll still get the card back, just 50 shades lighter. You may also risk melting the plastic onto the card, although we haven't seen this happen in practicality. Leave the cards in heat for 2 hours and then place them in shade for 30 mins. Do this 2-4 times depending on the amount of water exposure and leave the cards untouched for about half a day after you're done the cycles, even if you think it looks well and dry. Try bending the card very slightly through the sleeve and if it offers resistance throughout, it should be safe to remove. You can cut the sleeve away or brave sliding the card out if you're feeling a bit lucky.
DON'T Blowdry The Cards
Just don't. You'll waste a lot of electricity and time to achieve what the sun can do better. To make matters worse, blowdryers have been reported to make the sleeve plastic melt onto the cards inside, which certainly compounds the issue. There's also the matter of the air, which may bend the card, especially at the exposed edges. We haven't tried out this method and we don't see any reason to either.
DOs and DON'Ts of Straightening The Card
When wet cards dry, they shrink and fold irregularly, especially foil cards. You don't want this to happen or you can get accused of playing with marked cards. Here's the fix.
DO Place It In a Book
And then place another book on that book. And another one on top of that one, if you can. Once you've removed the card from the sleeve, let the final part of its drying process take place under the pressure of this setup. Leave it like this for at least 6 hours; trust us, if you don't, they'll just start folding up into "U" shapes, and those are a nightmare to shuffle. They're also not tournament legal if they're notably bent out of shape as they stand out much more in a deck. Put those phonebooks to use.
DON'T Iron The Card
While an iron may present as a source of both weight and heat (both of which help straighten fabrics), these variables are present in disproportionate amounts for something as delicate as a wet YuGiOh card. The excess heat can burn the card, char its edges, and produce unpredictable results- all mainly due to the difficulties associated with fine-tuning the exact heat that needs to be applied to each card. Furthermore, gliding around the iron can cause the card underneath (even if you wrap it up in cloth) to fold up and/or dry in uneven ways, raising the chances that it will assume irregular curvatures when being heated. Pressure is a much more important factor than heat during the drying process.
And that's the basics of salvaging a wet Yu-Gi-Oh card, folks! We hope you don't have to use any of the tricks mentioned here, but just in case you do, you know where to look! Please remember that none of these methods are foolproof and will vary in effectiveness based upon the degree of damage and the approach of the person undertaking repairs. So until next time, sleeve up your cards snugly and put them in a deck box that's placed away from any sources of water. (All card protection accessories are also available at our shop!) We'll catch ya next time, folks!