When i first started polymer clay 3 years ago i had the biggest problem. Dirty clay , lint covered charms or red clay would stain my hands and it would transfer over to my other colors such as white.
Over the years i have learned a few tricks to keep my clay almost lint free.
Your work surface:
Before i work on any project, i spend about 15 minutes wiping down my work surface with a wet napkin or a baby wipe. Along with cleaning my work surface i wash and clean all my tools. If you work on a wooden table and do not want to use a wet napkin or baby wipe that may damage the wood, use a lint roller or tape to instantly pick up all the lint on the table.
Paint brushes will get washed with soap and dry off on a lint free towel or a napkin.My craft tools will get wiped down by a baby wipe.I use parchment paper/baking paper to line my work surface to make sure my clay always has a clean area to be on while working.
Aside from lint or dust, a work area and tools will accumulate clay pieces stuck to it. Clean them often to avoid specs of other colors in your clay.
You should also keep the room you work in clean. Keep pets outside of the room when working or at all times if possible.
Washing your hands:
Everyone should wash their hands obviously, but when you work with clay there will be a residue that sticks to your hands when you work with it for an extended period of time.There are colors in polymer clay that also stain your hands such as red,green and brown.
Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Dry off on a lint free towel that is dry and not damp. I notice dry towels clean off my hands better than a damp towel.
Washing multiple times while working
Wash your hands when you are transitioning from different colors. Especially when working with red clay. This will also help keep your clay clean by washing your hands often any lint or dust you accumulated while working on a project.
How to clean raw/unbaked clay:
I used to use water and a q tip to clean my raw clay but that didn’t help as much as i thought it would.I also learned water on raw clay is not good.
To clean raw clay, use a Q-Tip and Rubbing Alcohol to gently clean off the lint or small hair pieces stuck to your clay. Be careful not to push into the clay if it is a project you have not baked yet. This should clean off most if not all the lint on your piece before baking. Make sure you do not put too much of the solution on the Q-Tip when cleaning raw clay.
I have also seen other crafters use kitchen wipes or Lysol wipes. They contain a lot of strong alcohol solution. Use this to clean clay along with your work surface.
How to clean cured/baked clay:
If you find lint or hair on your baked clay pieces you can use nail polish remover on a cotton pad to clean off your pieces. This will remove a thin layer of clay off your piece. Be very gentle and do not use too much on the cotton pad or q-tip while cleaning. Nail polish removers usually contains a chemical called acetone.
It is also important you do this in a well ventilated area when using products that contain acetone or alcohol and away from fire.