Mod Podge has been a favorite tool in a crafter’s toolbox for decades. It comes in handy for many different types of projects with various materials, such as paper, wood, glass, and fabric.
Working with Mod Podge is as simple as applying it with a brush and letting it dry. This usually does the trick, and creates a nice layer of clear finish over your decoupage project.
Sometimes, however, Mod Podge doesn’t work as we expect. Many crafters have expressed frustration with Mod Podge drying white or lumpy, even though it’s supposed to dry clear.
So, does Mod Podge dry clear? Mod Podge dries clear when it’s applied correctly, but there are several factors that can cause it to dry white. If it does dry white, there are tips you can dry depending on the issue, such as giving it more air circulation and exposing it to a warmer climate.
When used correctly, Mod Podge is great to work with and makes an ideal glue and finish for any project. If you want your project to dry perfectly the first time, keep reading to see common problems other people have and how to solve them.
How To Properly Apply Mod Podge
There are many different types of Mod Podge, and the first step to applying it correctly is choosing the right bottle. Consider the materials you’re working with and the finish you’re hoping to achieve, then choose the right product from the list below:
Each of these types of Mod Podge has their own advantages based on the type of materials you’re working with, the finished product you’re going for, and the finish you want to achieve.
Review each type based on what you think you might want for your project. Once you’ve selected your Mod Podge, you’re ready to apply!
Using either a foam brush or bristle brush, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge over your project. The key here is to apply only a thin layer. You can add more layers later on, but make sure the initial layer is thin.
Allow to dry completely. This can take anywhere between 15-30 minutes. If you want to speed up the process, try using a hair dryer to blow warm air on your project.
Once the first layer is completely dry, you can apply another thin layer. This process can be repeated as many times as you’d like to achieve the finish you’re looking for.
Common Reasons Mod Podge Dries White
Although applying Mod Podge is a simple process, many people make common mistakes that cause it to dry white instead of clear.
Below are some of the most frequent errors people make when applying Mod Podge that make the finish appear white or cloudy.
1. Too Much Mod Podge Is Applied
The leading cause of Mod Podge drying white, cloudy, or lumpy is that too much is applied. Often, people make the mistake of thinking they can slap the whole layer of Mod Podge that they want on their decoupage all at once.
Applying Mod Podge in a layer that’s too thick inhibits the drying process. The top of the Mod Podge will dry, but because it’s been applied so heavily, the Mod Podge underneath that top surface won’t ever dry.
Mod Podge is white when wet, so if it doesn’t have the chance to dry properly, it will stay white and won’t dry to the clear finish people are familiar with.
Using too much Mod Podge in one layer also leads to lumps along the surface of the Mod Podge. These lumps will also stay white for the same reason as the rest of the layer – the layer underneath doesn’t get the proper air flow to dry.
2. Not Enough Drying Time
Another common mistake made with Mod Podge is not allowing the full dry time needed.
Many crafty people love to make crafts for their loved ones. Unfortunately, this usually comes with a deadline, such as a birthday or anniversary or other special occasion holiday.
When that day approaches and you realize you haven’t had enough time to finish the craft, you may be tempted to rush the process. Applying a second Mod Podge layer on top of an initial layer that hasn’t had the chance to dry can also cause cloudiness.
This would be for the same reason as applying too much Mod Podge causes whiteness – the layer underneath doesn’t properly dry, therefore remaining white in appearance.
Even if your Mod Podge starts to feel dry to the touch after only 5-10 minutes, it’s best to leave it for the full 15-30 minutes. This ensures it has had the time to fully dry.
If you want to go even further to truly make sure your decoupage craft looks its best, try leaving it overnight to dry. Although this is significantly longer than the 15-30 minutes required, it will help significantly with creating a smooth, clear finish.
3. Too Much Humidity
One problem with Mod Podge that can’t be helped is the way humidity affects the drying process.
For those living in humid climates, such as Texas or Florida, you may notice your Mod Podge not drying correctly. It may take a longer period of time, or it may seem to never dry clearly at all.
Too much humidity in the air can prevent Mod Podge from drying properly. This doesn’t only come from the climate, but can also come from the location you choose to dry your craft.
It’s best to dry your craft in an open space with plenty of air circulation. Leaving your Mod Podge craft to dry in a bathroom with the door closed, for example, wouldn’t be a good place. You also wouldn’t want to dry it on your porch when it’s raining.
For best results, leave your decoupage to dry in a place with the lowest amount of humidity possible.
If you live in a naturally humid climate and can’t avoid the humidity in the air, you’ll have to adjust your drying times. Try leaving your craft overnight to dry completely between each layer.
4. Not Enough Air Circulation
Speaking of air circulation, another reason why a Mod Podge craft may not dry completely clear is that it doesn’t have enough ventilation.
This doesn’t just refer to the room you leave it to dry, but the type of container or craft you’re working on.
Applying Mod Podge on the inside of a small mason jar, for example, will lead to cloudy results. The inside of the mason jar doesn’t get enough air circulation to dry properly, and your glass will probably remain cloudy or white.
This can happen with any object that has a small opening for air flow. If you’re trying to apply Mod Podge on the inside of something, it likely won’t dry properly.
Unfortunately, this can’t really be helped. Some crafters have tried putting mason jars in the oven on a low temperature setting or in a food dehydrator to help it dry clear, but with mixed results. This often just doesn’t help enough to make a perfectly clear finish.
The only suggestion we have would be to try using a hair dryer to blow hot air into the jar. This might force enough air circulation to help the Mod Podge dry, but it’s not a guarantee.
5. Mod Podge Is Expired
Everything comes with an expiration date. This may seem a little silly for some products, so many people get in the habit of ignoring them. Water, for instance, is one product people often use past the expiration date.
Although it may seem silly, Mod Podge does have an expiration date. It’s usually only good for 6 months after opening, or for up to 2 years if the jar isn’t opened yet.
For those crafters who have jars of Mod Podge that have been sitting on your craft cart for 5 years, you may want to think about replacing them with new ones.
A big reason why some people have trouble with their Mod Podge not drying clearly is that the Mod Podge is expired.
This happens a lot to crafters who don’t craft very often. If you only make one or two crafts a year, that jar of Mod Podge has enough in it to last you a decade. Unfortunately, the product just isn’t designed to last that long.
Expired Mod Podge, like anything that’s expired, won’t work as well as it should. It will often remain white and cloudy even after it dries, no matter what you do.
You could apply in thin layers, give it plenty of drying time, and live in a climate with next to no humidity, and that Mod Podge still won’t dry clear.
If you notice this happening with your craft, it’s time to ditch the old bottle and buy a new one.
6. Paper Is Too Thin
Mod Podge doesn’t specify the type of paper it works with. If you look at the jar, it simply says it works with paper.
The problem is that Mod Podge won’t work with every kind of paper out there. Some papers are just too thin to work well with such a thick sealer, like tissue paper or regular printer paper.
If you’re applying Mod Podge over a layer of thin paper and it’s not drying clear, it could be because the paper has disintegrated through the thick application of Mod Podge and the material of the paper has mixed in with the Mod Podge itself.
Mod Podge mixed with white paper will, of course, dry white or cloudy. You may also see lumps formed from clumps of paper that rolled up on application.
Thick paper will hold up better against the weight and wetness of the sealer, preventing that disintegration and cloudiness.
7. Paint Or Ink Blends With Mod Podge
Other materials that are notorious for blending with Mod Podge and creating a cloudy finish are ink and paint.
Ink bleeding happens most often when using magazine pictures or cut-outs for decoupage. Although magazines are a popular source of paper designs for crafts, they often have thick, wet ink that bleeds directly into the Mod Podge.
This can happen with home-printed images too. Often we think the ink is dried soon after printing, but ink can take hours to fully dry. If you try to apply Mod Podge to a picture you’ve just printed, you’ll likely smear the ink.
Paint also has a tendency to smear when Mod Podge is applied to it. This can happen not only with crafts you’ve painted yourself, but images or objects you purchase from a store that are already painted.
Some types of paint are just prone to bleeding more when exposed to a wet sealer like Mod Podge, and sometimes it can be impossible to guess if this will happen with your paint.
A good rule of thumb when working with ink or paint and layering Mod Podge is to test a small area first. Apply Mod Podge over just one section of the magazine cut-out, or one corner of the painted object.
Allow the test area to dry completely before moving on with applying Mod Podge to the rest of the craft. Inspect the dried area to ensure that it has a completely clear look to it.
If the test area dried white, then you know this type of ink or paint will not take Mod Podge well. If it dried clear, then you can proceed with applying Mod Podge to the rest of the craft.
How To Fix Mod Podge That Dried White
If you’ve already made one of the common mistakes above, it’s too late to change your plan prior to applying. So how can you fix Mod Podge that has already dried white?
One way is to simply give it more time. Maybe the 15-30 minute drying window just isn’t enough for your object. Give it overnight, or even a few days, and see if it improves.
This can help if you’ve applied too much Mod Podge, if you’re working in a humid environment, or if you didn’t have enough air circulation. You can also help speed the drying process up, or help it dry more fully over time, by poking holes in the Mod Podge.
This can help for Mod Podge that’s been applied to thickly, to lumps that have formed on the surface, or to layers of Mod Podge that were applied without proper drying time in between.
One last thing to try if you’ve already made an error that caused the Mod Podge to dry white is to expose it to warm air. Combining higher air circulation with warmth can help the Mod Podge dry more fully if it’s having trouble getting to that stage.
There are a few different methods you can try to fully dry your Mod Podge to clear. Use a hair dryer on the high settings and blow it over the object you’re trying to dry. Make sure to constantly move the hair dryer around the object to provide even air circulation.
You can also try placing the object in a food dehydrator or in an oven at a low temperature.
Note: This should only be done with objects that are not flammable, such as glass. Never place fabric, paper, wood, or other flammable objects in the oven or food dehydrator.
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