tack cloth cleaning

5 Best Tack Cloths for Woodworking and Painting

In Tools by Jamie P.

Dust can be annoying when looking to stain or paint a project, it just gets in the way of a perfect final look. It is important to clean your surface down properly before applying certain products to your woodworking projects. I like to refinish furniture and after I sand down the surface the sanding dust accumulates instantly. There are a few ways to properly clean this dust, using a tack cloth is a popular method for cleaning wood that has been around for years, let me show you why.

Why Use a Tack Cloth?

A tack cloth is one of the best ways to get a surface truly spotless for an exceptional outcome with your home improvement projects. Similar to gauze, a tack cloth is a loosely-woven fabric made of cheesecloth that can be cut to any shape or size. What makes it so powerful and helpful is the sticky beeswax coating. It clings to the dust and grime that a regular dust cloth, or even a dust vacuum, can’t get to.

A tack cloth is used in woodworking to clean the surface free from wood dust that could impact the results of painting or staining a wooden surface.

With a tack cloth, you don’t have to use water, which could damage the surface of porous materials like wood. You also do not need to use a lot of force. But you can be sure the rough fabric will loosen the grime off the surface, then the beeswax will lift it off for a final product of the highest quality. And for an added perk, the cheesecloth will hold its shape extremely well, so it will last over time for multiple uses when stored in a sealed bag.

Please note that a tack cloth is generally not ideal for surfaces like leather, glass, ceramic, or metal because the coarse fabric will leave scratches, and with some products, the beeswax may leave a residue. However, some companies keep these issues in mind and incorporate versatility into their designs—particularly for use in automotive work.  But in general, a tack cloth is ideal for wood surfaces and walls.

So before you paint or stain, a tack cloth will ensure a smooth finish and high-quality results. Or after you sand a project, a dust vacuum may get the bulk of the dust out of the space, but the tack cloth can help finish the job and get the surface of the object and your work area completely dust-free. Read our 6 Ways How to Clean Wood After Sanding article here, it has a lot of great information about cleaning wood in preparation for paint or stain. If you are trying to achieve a professional-grade final product, the best tack cloth will help with the small details that can make a big difference.

5 Best Tack Cloths for Woodworking and Painting

1. Premium Tack Cloths, Bond Crystal Brand

Bond Corp. specializes in the production of tack cloths, and they have been crafting their product with dedication for over 75 years. They offer commercial-level manufacturing, but they also cater to smaller projects for hobbyists and basic home improvement work.

This Crystal tack cloth will surely last for multiple uses. Their manufacturing process focuses on premium quality with specialty techniques, so the edges will not fray and unwind. With multiple formulas to choose from, the Bond Crystal tack cloth is also versatile with specialties in woodworking, painting, as well as automotive work. This particular formula is great for basic home use. So whether you are working on a whole room, a small piece of furniture, an instrument, or a car, their tack cloths can ensure a final product that you can be proud of.

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2. Trimaco 10506 SuperTuff Tack Cloth

Trimaco is an excellent supplier, with its roots dating back to 1906. American-made and manufactured, their SuperTuff Tack Cloth will stand up to hard jobs. Trimaco has been focusing on dust-containment solutions for over 100 years, and they have crafted a product to help you accomplish your best work. With this tack cloth, you can produce top quality work to the finest detail of invisible dust and particulates. Because when you pay attention to the small details like that, it pays off in the end when the problems dust can cause are nowhere to be found.

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3. S&F STEAD & FAST 15-Pack Painters Tack Cloth for Painting

S&F features a tack cloth that is particularly good for painting. Their product does not use wax or silicone, so it avoids any sticky residue that may react with paints, stains, or varnishes. So unlike some other tack cloth designs, this specialty design also allows use with automotive painting. Simply apply wax or a grease-removal agent, and follow up with the tack cloth for a shining finish on your car, boat, or motorcycle.

You will want to keep in mind that among the various levels of “tacky-ness” out there, this cloth is less tacky. That means less residue on smooth surfaces, but it also means it may take more time to pick up dust on more coarse surfaces. But you can also be sure these can last for multiple uses, as long as you store it in a sealed bag. And because it is made of cotton, disposal is super easy and eco-friendly once you have used it as far as it will go.

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4. Addicted DEPO – Tack Cloth (8 Pack) for Woodworking

The tack cloths from Addicted DEPO are specialized for woodworking. They are made with a higher degree of stickiness in order to pick up as much dust from wooden surfaces and walls as possible. However, with that in mind, they may leave residue on metal surfaces. With stickier materials, it is also suggested to use less force and let the materials do the work.

Also made with cotton for simple, eco-friendly disposal, this cloth will make your workspace a lot cleaner and hassle-free. You won’t have dust flying around in your airspace and getting into your tools. And most importantly, you will be able to tend to small details and create wooden products of the highest quality.

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5. PRIM-TEX Tack Cloth for Woodworking & Painting

PRIM-TEX also produces a tack cloth without silicone or wax for a residue-free surface. While this may lead to more time and energy needed to collect particulates, it will make for a smooth, even, and professional-grade finish. And it still has the tacky quality, so it will still collect particulates in an effective way—just maybe not as well as stickier formulations.

It is easy to cut and you can get long-lasting use with proper storage in a sealed bag. It is also made of cotton for simple disposal so your workspace can be neat and tidy while you accomplish projects of the best quality.

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Final Thoughts

After getting a visual and reviewing 5 different tack cloths I hope it helped make your decision easy. Choosing a tack cloth is not meant to be hard, but finding the right one that works on your project is important. If it leaves a wax residue it may cause issues painting or staining, but if you are looking to just clean a surface that may not be a concern for you. If a tack cloth isn’t right for you remember that there are other cleaning options that could be a better fit!