What does rubbing alcohol do to polymer clay?

Rubbing alcohol, also known as isopropyl alcohol, is a versatile tool in polymer clay crafting, serving various purposes to aid in shaping, cleaning, and enhancing your creations. Here’s how rubbing alcohol can be used with polymer clay:

Cleaning and Degreasing

Rubbing alcohol is commonly used to clean and degrease polymer clay surfaces before painting, applying finishes, or bonding clay components:

  • Moisten a cotton swab or soft cloth with rubbing alcohol and gently wipe the surface of the clay to remove oils, fingerprints, or contaminants.
  • Allow the clay to dry completely before proceeding with additional steps.

Smoothing and Blending

Rubbing alcohol can help smooth and blend clay edges or seams:

  • Dip a soft brush, sponge, or cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and use it to gently smooth and blend the areas where clay components meet.
  • The alcohol softens the clay slightly, allowing for easier manipulation and achieving seamless connections.

Ink and Paint Techniques

Rubbing alcohol can be used with ink or paints to create various effects on polymer clay:

  • Apply ink or paint to the clay surface, and then use a brush or cotton swab dampened with rubbing alcohol to create washes, blends, or textures.
  • The alcohol can disperse the ink or paint, creating unique patterns and color variations.


While rubbing alcohol can be a valuable tool, it’s important to:

  • Test rubbing alcohol on a small, inconspicuous area of clay before applying it to your main project to ensure compatibility.
  • Avoid excessive use of rubbing alcohol, as prolonged exposure can affect the clay’s texture or weaken its structure.

By understanding and applying these techniques, you can harness the benefits of rubbing alcohol to enhance your polymer clay projects.

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