5 Board Game Care Tips To Keep Your Games Pristine

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There is nothing I enjoy more than having a good time with family and friends around one of my favorite board games.

If you are like us then we enjoy the full social experience, including food and drink, when gaming. This can lead to the inevitable accident here and there and a bit of cleaning up to do.

Here are 5 tips to help you with your board game care and ensure they last for many more great sessions.

To keep your board games in pristine condition, stack them properly, keep them dry and out of direct sunlight, keep them clean and consider using card sleeves.

Let’s look in more detail at 5 tips to extend the lifespan of your board games.

5 board game care tips

Table of Contents

1. Stack them properly

The first and most obvious tip towards board game care is to store them properly. If you store your board games like the image on the right then there is a high probability that over time your games can become damaged.

Game boards warping and pieces getting lost as the boxes break are inevitable. So, keeping them stored properly, out of direct sunlight and in a dry place will go a long way to keeping them in pristine condition.

Opinion is divided about whether they should be stored horizontally or vertically and to me this seems more of a personal preference.

I am happy to do both and consider the following things depending on which way they are stored.

5 Board game care tips

Horizontally stored

If you store games horizontally, one on top of the other. Then you will need to make sure the weight of the board games above does not damage the games lower down.

The important thing is to ensure that the boxes on top are not too heavy and are of a similar size. Boxes that are significantly smaller and heavier can cause the box lid to bow. Ensuring that the weight above is resting on the sides of the box is a good idea.

How to stack board games - Right and Wrong
Store boxes of similar sizes

Vertically stored

Board Game shelves
Storing vertically

Vertically stored board games can bring their own problems with the pieces falling out and getting mixed up making it harder to setup the game. Or even losing some pieces altogether.

One tip I have read is to keep the card punches that the cards are pushed out from and putting them under the box insert. This will raise up the insert so it is against the lid and prevent the pieces from falling out.

2. Keep them dry and out of sunlight

Keeping your board games in a dry, well ventilated place, out of direct sunlight will ensure that they keep in pristine condition whilst not in use.


Direct sunlight can cause the artwork and colors to fade over time. So it is a good idea to keep them out of direct sunlight.


As well as sunlight, damp and condensation can damage your board game irreparably as it can attract mildew.

Mildew is a living fungus that eats into your board and once contaminated the mildew can spread to other games too.

Bright sunlight image

So ensure to keep any games with mildew away from uninfected games.

Two ways to identify mildew is by smell and touch, it will look like dirt but feel velvety to the touch.

Prevention is better than cure here and so keeping your games stored in a dry well ventilated place will work towards preventing mildew.

3. Keep the board games clean

The next board game care tip is to keep them clean. If you use a game regularly and it has some wear and dirt, giving it a clean will make sure that it will last longer.

Cleaning at the point the board gets dirty will be best so keep a towel or cloth to hand to mop up during a session. If it requires more than that then try some mild soapy water. Something like a non-abrasive, non-detergent washing up liquid will do.

Place a small amount on a damp sponge and use it carefully in circular motions. The key here is not to get the board too wet. Be careful around worn or frayed areas where the protective cover may not be there to stop the water from penetrating the board.

Rinse the sponge and repeat often and the dirt should be cleaned away. Once finished make sure the board is completely dry before storing.

Another neat trick is to pop down to your hobby or craft store and get a kneadable or soft art eraser. These can be useful for getting pencil or pen marks off the surface of cards or boards.

4. Store components in separate bags

Often board games will come with pieces in plastic bags. Continuing to store them in the bags when not playing will keep them in better condition and ensure that individual pieces don’t get lost. If they didn’t come with these then any hobby or craft store should provide sealable bags which will work well.

When you have larger games with more pieces then plastic bags become more difficult to handle as the above video demmonstrates. Having them all in various plastic bags can extend the time taken to set the game up considerably.

A good alternative would be a compartmentalised case which can store the pieces in groups. This will make it easier to separate all the different types of pieces and make it easier to setup the game. Something like the box shown below is a good example.

5. To sleeve or not to sleeve

Example of card sleeving

The next thing to consider in our board game care is how to protect the cards from dirty and sticky hands. If you are like us and like to eat and drink whilst playing then this is a real consideration.

You can buy plastic sleeves of various sizes that your cards can fit snugly inside to protect them from the stickiest of fingers. Board gamers are quite divided over whether you should or should not.

Some sleeve all their games, some only sleeve the frequently played and some do not sleeve at all.

You can read my article Do You Sleeve Your Board Games? to find out more about sleeving. Which also has a great tip on shuffling sleeved cards using the mash shuffle method.

There are a few forum posts on Board Game Geek that discuss the use of sleeves on board games. ‘a Sleeving Introduction for a noob‘ is a good one to read along with this one helping you get the right sleeve with the right card, ‘Card Sleeve Sizes for Games.

The pro’s and cons for sleeving are below:


Keeps the cards clean
Protects against spills
Extend the life of the cards


Harder to shuffle
Some find them harder to hold
Some don’t like the feel

Sleeves are pretty inexpensive and typically come in packs of 50 or 100 with a range of quality. Some manufacturers even put packs of sleeves together specifically for games.

Different sized card sleeves
Titanshield sleeves

The main difference is the thickness which can range from 40 (thin) – 120 (thick) microns. The thicker the sleeve the more protection but this will change the feel too. So it is really about personal preference and which thickness you prefer.

I go into more details about sleeves here in my article: Do you sleeve your board games? There is also a simple method to shuffle your sleeved cards easier.

Pick some up and give them a try and see if they are something that works for you. I use the Titan Shield range which are 100 microns and come in a reasonable 150 sleeve pack.

5 Board Game Care Tips Conclusion

Buying a board game is an investment in good family fun, protecting that investment only makes sense. However, if that is at the expense of reducing that family fun then it is up to you how much you are willing to sacrifice in order to keep a game that is $20-$50 going longer.

Board games are still the best value per hour of play you can get. So it is worth protecting those that have value beyond the paper and plastic before you, such as those family memories that cannot be replaced by a new game.

Simple board game care, like sleeving and keeping the board and pieces clean will not affect this and can only make sense. For me, eating and drinking around a board game adds to the social aspect and so I will always allow this to happen in my family.

Ultimately, board games are about the experience of playing and so any protection you put in place should balance with the enjoyment you get from playing.

I hope you found this article helpful. While your here why not check out some of our top board game reviews selected especially for families here. We have some great family games such as Ticket to Ride Europe or the fun and easy to play Takenoko.

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