People really like to have food around during long gaming sessions, to avoid the discomfort of hunger and dehydration.

Sleeves are pretty useful for keeping crumbs and dirt off your gaming cards. Sometimes, however, a player will knock a drink over onto the table, risking water damage to your hobby materials.

How well do typical card sleeves protect game cards from spilled drinks?

How effective is double-sleeving in this situation?


My own experience is that, barring using a bag sealer on the sleeves, sleeving is not going to protect against direct spills nor large spills on a hard surface. On a surface that wicks moisture, an indirect spill will not get in. A direct spill (can knocked over onto cards, for example) will penetrate.

I've seldom double sleeved, and will note that it's a major pain to get done, requires two sizes of sleeves, and makes the cards really feel wrong.

And I've seen a card ruined by a direct spill despite double sleeving - a hockey card, to be specific, which was better material than most game cards.

  • 1
    I wholly agree.
    – Pow-Ian
    Apr 16 '13 at 12:39

This is going to be largely based on the situation in both instances of single and double sleeve.

The single sleeve will probably not protect if the open end is facing the spill and certainly will not if the spill completely surrounds the card.

The double sleeve is going to be better at the directional spill but still cause you problems because it is not sealed. There is still an open end. You may be able to defeat the open end of a double sleeve issue with some clear tape.

Also how fast you react to the spill is important.

Sleeves are not intended to protect from liquids. They can actually cause more harm than good because they are going to be trapping any liquid that contacts them and the card, on the card.

If you were going to use sleeves to prevent liquid damage , I would suggest double sleeves with the open end taped.

As an aside: If you wanted to make your cards reasonably spill proof, I suggest getting a food saver and sealing them. Only way you are going to make it air tight and you are going to seal the cards from damage as well as preserve them from oxidation.

I understand this is extreme but if you are playing with small children it is sometimes justified.

This can also cost money and take a lot of time. But you will have a very well sealed card.

Plan on having to make custom boxes also.

  • 1
    Why wouldn't you just put a card in a penny sleeve and then upside down inside a normal sleeve? Doesn't that seal both ends reasonably well without having to tape everything?
    – SocioMatt
    Apr 15 '13 at 20:51
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    yes reasonably well, however if there was a large amount of something sticky or particularly thin (Mountain dew) then it can easily get into the top sleeve. If you are not careful when removing that sleeve then you will have a mess all over your cards. Sealing the end makes sure that you are almost water proof.
    – Pow-Ian
    Apr 16 '13 at 1:07

As an alternative suggestion (considering the effort involved in effectively laminating your deck), I would suggest proxying your entire deck.

A common printer can create an excellent facsimile of any card, and printing out a copy of your deck could be easier than making it vacuum-sealed. Then you'd get to play with your cards as, you know, cards. If you like that sort of thing. Which I do.

And as a bonus, Chaos Confetti!

  • That is a great idea, but the cost on ink would be excruciating and you would certainly not be able to get a print shop to do it for you.
    – Pow-Ian
    Apr 16 '13 at 16:50
  • You don't have to print them at high quality, you can even reduce to greyscale if you want. I had a friend print out a Magic deck several years before photo printing was common, and while it did use up about a third of his ink cartridge I'd say it was comparable in cost with buying several packs of deck protectors. If you aren't in the habit of completely rebuilding your deck every month you might not have to print more than one card a month after the initial print run. So it can be a one-time cost.
    – Task
    Apr 16 '13 at 19:20

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