Card Printing Tips & Advice

Wondering how to clean your ID card properly? Read this first…

Cleaning ID card lead image

Photographic identification and access control cards are crucial for many organisations and are likely used by every member of staff.

While cleaning your ID card printer is essential, something that isn’t considered as often is the cleanliness of the cards themselves. In the current environment, it’s more important than ever to ensure they are sanitised. But how do you make sure your cards don’t start to fade?

ID cards are relatively durable things and have an average lifespan of between two and five years. However, there are certain points you should keep in mind to ensure your card does not begin to fade if you’re cleaning it regularly. First things first…

How do you clean an ID card?

To clean and sanitise an ID card, you will need soap, warm water, a container and some disposable paper towels.

  1. Mix a small about of soap into a glass and fill with warm water.
  2. Mix the solution up until it produces suds.
  3. Take your ID card and place it on a flat, clean surface.
  4. Take a paper towel or piece of kitchen roll and dip it into the soapy mixture.
  5. Pick up the ID card and hold it around the edges with your fingers and thumb.
  6. Dip the paper towel into the soapy water and rub the dampened area over the ID card.
  7. Repeat the process on the reverse side of the card until all smudges and dirt is gone.
  8. Take a dry paper town and dry your ID card.

Are ID cards resistant to cleaning products?

And it’s as easy as that. However, we recommend that you only ever clean cards with soap and water. Why? Because depending on how your ID card has been printed, washing it with harsh cleaning chemicals can significantly shorten its lifespan – especially if you are using a direct-to-card printer to produce cards.

Not all ID cards are created equal…

If you are using a direct-to-card ID card printer, the dye-sublimation process it uses means that ink is directly printed through a printhead onto the card’s surface.

Even if you are using a printer ribbon with an overlay panel, this will not make it 100% fade resistant. In fact, cleaning these cards with plain soap and water can cause some fading if it’s done often enough as in the photo below.

Fading ID card and lanyard

Read more: Why fading ID cards are bad for security… and bad for business

It’s really important to consider how often your cards will need to be sterilised because choosing the wrong sort of ID card printer can lead to higher reissuance costs. Not only that but once key information and photographic identification begin to fade, your security is compromised. This is particularly crucial if you print barcoded information onto your cards.

Time for a retransfer ID card printer?

The most effective way to stop your ID cards fading after multiple cleans is opting for a retransfer ID card printer.

Instead of printing ink directly onto the card itself, the print design is first transferred directly onto the underside of an overlay transfer film.

Thanks to a combination of heat and pressure, this transfer film is then applied to the card itself. Because the printed information is embedded onto the protective film itself, it is much better protected from the elements – including harsher cleaning agents.

Along with other benefits such as a higher quality finish and the ability to print on to access control cards, they produce a much longer lasting card and more durable print finish.

The end result is an ID card and one that is much safer to clean, without the potential for security issues that is caused by a fading card. While a retransfer printer may be more expensive to purchase in the first instance, don’t forget that a longer card life also reduces your reissuance costs.

Need more help?

If you require more information on how best to protect your ID cards and ensure you keep reissuance costs as low as possible, get in touch with our experts on 0800 988 2095. They will be able to determine what sort of card and ID printer is the best suited to your requirements.

Read more: Is your ID card printer ready for the return to work?