What is the best way to clean a laser etched tumbler?

How do you clean the residue off a laser etched tumbler?

Let me start off by saying, the cleaning of a Stanley or Dupe tumbler seems pretty intuitive, but it does get a little complicated dependent on the type of coat and color. I think overall I picked up on the best techniques pretty fast, but I definitely ruined a couple cups before I got there. And if you are new to this you are saying, why is it that hard? No, but there are some tricks to know about in the coatings. 

The best way to clean a Stanley, Yeti, Simple Modern, JDS or “Dupe” laser etched tumbler or cup is to determine the coat covering and use one of the two methods. Method one, for almost all cups is to gently scrub with a “magic eraser” coated in Harbor Freight Degreaser. For the thicker coatings and blue tumblers use the same magic eraser, but instead use Blu Powder Coat Residue Cleaner. For both styles I then follow up with a warm soapy wash to remove the cleaners.  

Going more into detail, I talk below about the specifics about how I clean my tumblers, and where I buy the materials. Read on!

Picture of Harbor Freight Degreaser and Magic Erasers.
This is the easy way to clean a laser etched tumbler.

The cheapest vs. best ways to clean a tumbler.

First a quick note about me. I prefer to do everything the cheapest way possible AND the best way possible. In saying that I try to make those intersect making an affordable, yet really quality outcome. I hate flaws, won’t accept them, so the information you are getting here is my real deal opinion.

The cheap way!

I use Harbor Freights Super Heavy Degreaser and a “magic eraser,” I always put the Magic Eraser in quotes, because I use the knock off! Starting off I shake up the degreaser (I don’t know if it matters), they I put between 1 to 2 ounces of the degreaser on the Magic Eraser. Lightly scrub the laser etched  area with the eraser and voila! Clean. Finish that up with some warm/hot soapy water to remove the degreaser and you are good.

This method would run you $25.94 before taxes, but I am telling you, you will clean thousands of cups with this supply. 

The REASON for the BEST way to clean a CO2 engraved tumbler.

This where you realize I don’t just try stuff, I learn about it. The reason the cheap way isn’t always the best (although its what I use 95% of the time) is that certain powder coats and colors don’t completely emulsify correctly when etched.

  • First Issue, is just the chemical composition. Some powder coats have different key chemical.

  • Second Issue, is the wave-length of the laser. Co2 lasers burn at a frequency of 9,300 to 10,600 nm. If you look at the chart, all the way to the right is your laser. 

What color powder coat is hardest to etch?

Ask anyone. Blue. Royal Blue. Navy Blue. Blues are the hardest color powdercoated type of cup/tumbler to CO2 Laser engrave/etch. Now look at the chart again, blue is the furthest point from the area your laser burns. That’s why it’s hard, and that’s why you have a blue film left over. 

This is a diagram of the light wave length spectrum and shows the CO2 Laser range. This is to show an important point on how to clean a laser etched tumbler.
This is a diagram of the light wave length spectrum, it shows the CO2 Laser range (9,300 to 10,600 nm).

The best way to clean your tumbler.

This is, I guess, subjective. If you are not having troubles or think you will have troubles with film removal, the cheap way might be better. I still use the other version 9 times out of 10, well maybe 50/50 because I do a lot of navy blue for my area.

The what seems to be sure fire way to clean off residue is to use the same Magic Eraser and a chemical called Blu Powder Coating Residue Cleaner. Like with the degreaser, it does not take much chemical or effort and the residue falls off. It’s just amazing how this works. 

The Blu costs about $6 more for half the amount, but will still allow you to clean hundreds of tumblers. It works on Simple Modern, YETI Duracoat, RTIC, Ozark Trail, Polar Camel and SIC.

This picture shows a Simple Modern Cup that burnt in the etching process. The residue burns off leaving just the brownish unremovable char.

A couple last tips on how to clean a laser etched tumbler.

If your residue is still very think and doesn’t come off, you likely didn’t laser it enough, and if the residue is a baked on looking brownish (you will see steel and lines) you etched it too much. The first way might be fixable, the second to my knowledge, is not. 

I will add a picture of the Blu and a dark blue cup, but as I write this I don’t have one in the shop!

Are you still wondering which Rotary Device to get? This article will probably help.

This picture shows the Lens Digital PiBurn 4.0 as it finishes a laser etching.
This picture shows the Lens Digital PiBurn 4.0 as it finishes a laser etching ready for cleaning.

Make sure to check out the rest of my website and blog! My store has many of the common items I personally use and the WHY behind it.

Have a great one!


Hill Country CNC & Woodwork

Hill Country CNC & Woodworking is an affiliate marketing business, but it is one with ethics and morals. We only promote the items that we use in our daily business. Let’s help each other! I will give you my experience (and discounts sometimes) and you can help me grow.

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