The following sheet contains information on how to best care for your Dirty Catz Kandi Masks! Please bear in mind that I have evolved my mask making skills from the first masks in 2013 to what they are now, here at the end of 2017. Because of this, some of the masks from my earlier days may require a bit more delicate handling but the care methods are pretty much the same. I have done my best to encompass all the care and cleaning methods I can possibly think of, however this list may or may not be complete. If you have a mask from my earlier days and you are unsure if the care and cleaning methods outlined below are suited for your Dirty Catz Mask, please reach out and we can go over the best way to care for your piece!
You will see this over and over in the following topics, but plain old water and a mild dish soap are pretty much your best friends for all my care methods!
- Mask Base, Plain Beads
- Mask Base, Specialty Beads
- Teeth, White
- Teeth, Special Effects
- Fur, 1, 2, & 3 Layers
- Gems, Spikes, Pearls
- Whiskers, Clear Filament
- Whiskers, Black/Silver Metal
- Whiskers, Fiber Optic
- Mouth Lights
- Craft Foam Pieces
- Thermoplastic Pieces
- 3D Printed Pieces
- Apoxie Sculpted Pieces
Mask Base, Plain Beads
If your mask base is made from plain beads (ie no special finishes like gold/silver plating or hand painted galaxy glitter), you may do a light cleaning with dish soap and water, or for stubborn spots you may choose to use a diluted solution of 1 part rubbing alcohol to 4 parts water. For both options, I recommend using a soft bristled toothbrush to gently scrub your mask. Use a circular motion and do not be afraid to work the bristles between the beads to get any dirt loose, but do not use excessive pressure. Use cool water only. If your mask does not have any attached electric components (like fiber optic whiskers or permanently attached lights) then you can fully submerge your mask in water to both clean and rinse it.
Mask Base, Specialty Beads
If your base contains beads that are plated in 24k Gold, Sterling Silver, or have a hand painted Galaxy Glitter finish, you will need to exercise a little extra care when cleaning. For all three finishes, please avoid any contact with sharp pointed objects (X-acto blades, knives, etc) as these can permanently damage the finish. Please do not use any solvents such as rubbing alcohol, acetone, etc to remove dirt or stains. For 24k Gold plated beads, please use only water and a mild dish soap along with either a soft cloth or a soft bristled toothbrush. For Sterling Silver plated beads, you may use either a silver cleaning cloth (available at some craft stores, jewelry stores, or online) or toothpaste, applied with a soft bristled toothbrush. This will remove any tarnish on your silver beads. Tarnish is completely normal, and is recognizable by the slightly grey to black film that forms on silver. This tarnish will NOT appear on Gold plated beads! For Galaxy Glitter painted beads, please be EXTREMELY careful when handling and cleaning as this coating can flake off easily if not cared for properly. Use only water and a mild dish soap, preferably applied with a soft cloth. Avoid using a toothbrush unless you deem it absolutely necessary.
The materials I have used for teeth include both ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) Plastic and HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene) Plastic. It is impossible for me to say exactly when I made the switch from ABS to HIPS, and each material reacts differently to solvents. As such, I recommend ONLY water and soap to clean the teeth on your mask. The use of any solvents like rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, facial toner, acetone, etc may cause adverse effects like warping, melting due to chemical reaction, or decreasing the structural integrity of the base material making it more prone to breakage. If you have a spot on a tooth that will not come off, you may try gently rubbing at it with a fine/high grit sandpaper (1000 grit or higher, with higher being better). If you have access to Wet Sandpaper this is your best option. After sanding, the tooth will look a bit more dull as you have sanded away a portion of the polished finish. To restore the shine, you may choose to apply a thin coat of clear nail polish (preferably an enamel top coat, avoid gel polish) over the entire tooth.
Teeth, Special Effects
Teeth with a specialty finish require a bit more love, but not so much so that it makes them impossible to clean. Solid Color Teeth and Blood Drip Effects are created with simple liquid enamel colors. The colors are chemical based (not water, latex, oil, or alcohol based) and therefore MUST be cleaned with water ONLY. If the color begins to chip for any reason, you can reapply color using liquid enamel or, if you prefer, nail polish! It works very well, comes in more colors that liquid enamel typically does, and is usually cheaper. You can pick up generic nail polish colors for $1 versus a bottle of liquid enamel from a hobby shop for anywhere between $5-$10 for a small bottle. Use the material that meets both your design and budgetary needs.
Fur, 1, 2, & 3 Layers
Fur is very simple and easy to clean. Lighter colors tend to show dirt more, even when they have been thoroughly washed, whereas darker colors remain cleaner looking for longer periods of time. If your mask does not contain any permanently attached lights or other electrical components (mouth lights or EL wire that have been stitched on and/or fiber optic whiskers are all considered permanently attached) then you may fully submerge your mask in water to clean the fur. Get the fur wet, either by running under the tap or by placing in a sink/bowl/bucket of COOL water. Remove from water and apply a mild dish soap to each piece of cheek fur. Hold the mask in one hand, and use your free hand to gently squish the fur and work the soap into a lather with your fingertips. Rinse the fur under cool running water. If needed, repeat the soap and lather and rinse again.
If your mask DOES have permanently attached lights of any kind, you will need to wash the cheek fur pieces one at a time and avoid getting water near the wiring. I have done my best to solder, seal, and treat the wiring so it is not exposed to the air and therefore moisture, but in the event that the soldered connections get wet, they may begin to rust and over time, this will cause your lights to short and cease to work. To avoid getting water on your mask as much as possible, I advice the "two bowl" method. Fill both bowls with cool water. Dip one section of fur into the water, making sure it is pointed down towards the bowl at all times. Apply soap and work it into a lather as outlined above. When you are ready to rinse the soap out, dip the fur into the first bowl and squeeze and squish the fur to remove the soap. Once a majority of the soap is gone, lift the fur out of the water, allow the water to run off into that bowl for a moment, then dip the fur into the second bowl of clean, cool water. Repeat the squishing and squeezing of the fur to remove any remaining soap (there shouldn't be much left). Lift the fur from the water and with the fur still pointing down and away from the mask, lay the mask flat on a towel and pat it gently to remove most of the water. Repeat the process on the other side. This technique can be a little tedious but it is well worth the effort, and will keep your wiring rust free.
Once the fur has been completely rinsed clean of soap, lay the mask on a towel and let it air dry. When the fur is 100% dry, you may use a comb or brush to gently fluff the fur to restore the poof and shine. Do not brush the fur when it is wet! If your mask is older and the fur is starting to feel a bit coarse, you can work a small amount of conditioner or fabric softener into the fur when it is wet, then rinse and lay on a towel to dry. If using fabric softener, please do not leave it in the fur for an excessively long period of time before washing it out, otherwise it will dull the shine of the fur (leaving it in for a few minutes is totally fine! I'm talking about leaving it in for upwards of an hour, that's a no no!)
Please note: NEVER USE BLEACH ON YOUR MASK TO CLEAN THE FUR. Bleach CAN be used on faux fur alone when diluted but it should NEVER be used on a completed mask as it can eat away at several components of the mask (string, teeth, gems, etc).
Embellishments like gems, spikes, and pearls, no matter where they are placed on the mask, require very little in the way of cleaning. If dirty, use a soft cloth and some water to wipe them clean. If the dirt is persistent, add a little soap to the water and gently wipe at the dirt. If the dirt is REALLY stuck on there, you may choose to use a little rubbing alcohol mixed with water in a 1:1 ration. Please be sure to test this mixture on a small spot first before committing to cleaning all the dirty gems, spikes, and/or pearls! Some items have coatings on them that may react adversely to rubbing alcohol, so it is important to do a small test first.
A lot of my older masks used Hot Glue to adhere the embellishments to them, and excessive scrubbing may work the items loose from the mask base. If this happens, you may choose to reapply them using more hot glue, or a more permanent adhesive like E6000. When in doubt, please reach out! I am more than happy to answer individual questions about the best way to perform a mini repair like this.
Clear Filament Whiskers do not typically showcase dirt unless it is severe. You can probably guess what I'm going to say by now but water and a soft cloth will do the job here! The monofilament I use for the whiskers is very tough and durable, and can withstand a fair amount of abuse. Please do not expose these whiskers to direct heat though, as this will cause them to melt, warp, and possibly break off (direct heat sources like open flame, hair dryer, straightener, curling iron, etc are on the no no list!)
Fiber Optic Whiskers are one of, if not the, most delicate option I ever made available on my masks. As I learned more about fiber optics, I moved away from using thick, bulky fiber that had very little give, to thin, delicate fiber that had optimal brightness and offered more points of light. I also began scoring the whiskers to create a "sparkle" effect along each whisker which made them a slight bit more susceptible to breaking if handled roughly. Due to their sometimes fragile nature, you should always handle any mask with fiber optics with more care than you usually would. Store it away from other items, refrain from tossing your mask into a bag, etc. To clean the whiskers, hold the mask with the whiskers pointing towards the floor. Use a damp cloth to wipe them clean. Do not twist or bend the whiskers, especially if yours have the "sparkle" effect. Holding the mask with the whiskers facing the floor will significantly reduce the chance of any water coming into contact with the wiring, battery pack, or soldering. I have made every effort to make the electrical components water tight but no method is ever 100% fool proof. If water gets into the wiring etc, it may rust and cause the lights to stop functioning. Please take every precaution to keep the wiring away from direct moisture and you will be fine! If you need to clean the back of your mask and it has fiber optics installed, you may still use a damp cloth but avoid using soap, and the use of soap will require more effort to remove soapy residue, which means more exposure to moisture. If you need to clean using something stronger than water, a Clorox/Lysol wipe along the back will serve the purpose. Just be sure to follow that with a quick wipe down with a damp cloth to remove the chemical residue before putting the mask on your face again.
If you need to replace the batteries in your battery pack, you will need two CR 2032 batteries per pack. The batteries stay pretty snug in the pack so you may need to use a needle to gently pry them out of the pack. Always be sure the pack is switched off before removing any batteries! Your local Radio Shack or computer/electronics store should carry CR 2032 batteries but they are outrageously priced and you should seek them out only in an emergency (like forgetting you wanted to replace your batteries and you remember on rave day...yikes!) If you can, plan ahead and order them online through eBay! You can get packs of 10 batteries on eBay for the price of one battery in a store. A much better deal, especially if you take your mask out often.
Mouth lights are pretty easy to care for. I did experiment with a few methods for attaching them along the backs of masks but quickly settled on velcro patches to make them removable. To remove your lights from your mask, slide a fingernail, pen, fingertip, etc between the two pieces of velcro, and pry the light piece from the piece left on the mask. The piece on the mask is the soft (loop) half of the Velcro. I intentionally attach the soft piece to the mask so if you choose to leave your lights off, you will not have the rough (hook) part of the Velcro rubbing on your skin. To clean the light casing, first remove the chip from the casing. Directly opposite of the bulb end of the light, you will find a small cut out in the casing. Gently pull the top half off and remove the chip from the two halves. Wipe down with water or rubbing alcohol (no need to dilute) and allow to FULLY DRY before reassembling the chip and reattaching the Velcro to the mask.
If you need to replace the batteries in your mouth lights, I have found that the best way to remove the old batteries is with a pen. Push the batteries from the bulb side to the back of the chip. Each chip takes two CR 1620 batteries. Your local Radio Shack or computer/electronics store should carry CR 1620 batteries but they are outrageously priced and you should seek them out only in an emergency (like forgetting you wanted to replace your batteries and you remember on rave day...yikes!) If you can, plan ahead and order them online through eBay! You can get packs of 10 batteries on eBay for the price of one battery in a store. A much better deal, especially if you take your mask out often. If you are local to a gloving supply store, you can always purchase your batteries through them as well! If you ask nicely, they may even help you replace the batteries in your lights.