5 Simple Steps to Read Tarot with Confidence

How to Clear and Cleanse Your Tarot Cards

By August 19, 2010Everyday Tarot

Cleansing your Tarot cards is important for maintaining a positive energy in your Tarot readings and connecting with your Tarot deck. In the following blog post, I take a look at a number of different techniques that will help you cleanse your Tarot deck and when you might need to use these techniques.

When Does a Tarot Deck Need to be Cleansed?

Generally, you’ll know when you need to cleanse your Tarot cards – there’ll be that niggling feeling that something isn’t quite right with your cards and that something needs to change. Here are some examples of different situations when you will most likely feel compelled to cleanse your Tarot cards:

  • Other people have touched your cards
  • You’ve bought a new or second hand Tarot deck
  • You’ve done a particularly draining Tarot reading
  • Your Tarot cards have been sitting dormant or unused for quite some time
  • You or your Tarot cards have been exposed to a lot of negative energy (for example, a particularly negative client, or a challenging situation in your own personal life)
  • Your Tarot readings are beginning to feel unclear, disconnected or ‘stuck’
  • Your cards have fallen all over the floor or had some other sort of accident
  • You simply want to reconnect with your cards

How to Clear and Cleanse a Tarot Deck

There are many different techniques that you can use to clear negative energy and cleanse your Tarot deck. The important thing is to choose the technique(s) that feel right to you and to the situation (e.g. you might use one technique in between each reading, and another technique to cleanse on an annual basis). Below are a number of different ways to clear and cleanse a Tarot deck:

Sorting and Shuffling. Firstly, sort your cards in order, starting with the Major Arcana, then into each of the suits of the Minor Arcana. While you’re doing this, look briefly at each card and remember the special message it has to offer you in your readings. You can also use this time to check that you have every card in your deck (a few years back, I found that I had been missing the Ace of Swords for quite some time without even realising it!!). Once your cards are sorted and in order, start shuffling and reinvigorating your cards with your energy. You might like to shuffle seven times, put your cards in a big messy pile and randomly select cards, or simply use a shuffling technique that is comfortable to you.

Meditation. Hold your cards in both hands, close your eyes and relax. Allow your mind to be free of any thought and just ‘be’ with your cards. You may then like to visualise the Universal energy being drawn through you and to your cards, surrounding your cards in a protective white light. Those with an understanding of Reiki may like to use this mode of energy healing to cleanse their cards by channelling their healing Reiki energy through the cards. This is personally my favourite as it is easy to do in between readings and it helps me focus and concentrate on my next client.

Moon Bath. The full moon is an excellent source of energy for your cards. On a full moon, you can simply place your cards in a window or even outside to bathe in the moonlight. Alternatively, many people use this time to conduct a special ritual or to cite different incantations for cleansing their Tarot cards.

Salt Burial. Salt can be used to draw out negative energy from your cards, just like you would use salt to draw out the moisture from a food item in cooking. First, wrap your Tarot in a plastic bag as tightly as you can. Then take an airtight container that is larger than your Tarot deck, place your wrapped cards inside and then completely surround your cards with salt on all sides, above and below. It is imperative that this is an airtight container as salt not only gathers the energies from a Tarot deck well, it also gathers any moisture that might be in the air, potentially damaging your cards. Keep your cards buried in the salt for at least a few days or a week before taking them out and disposing of the salt.

Fresh Air. Just after a rain shower or even in the warmth of the sun, place your cards outside to take in the fresh air and draw in the cleansing rays. Of course, keep in mind the (imp)practicalities and be careful not to place them in a windy position or somewhere where you may end up doing more damage!

Smudge Stick. Burn some dried sage or rosemary  (or use a store-bought smudge stick) and simply pass the cards through the smoke several times. You can also cleanse any crystals that you use during the process.

Elemental Clearing. Elemental clearing brings your awareness to using different techniques that are aligned with each of the four elements used in Tarot. For example, for Earth clearing, use the Salt burial; for Water clearing, use the Moon Bath or sprinkle a little water on your cards; for Fire clearing, pass your cards over a candle; for Air clearing, use a smudge stick. You may like to go through each of the four elements for a more comprehensive cleansing.

Most readers do some form of cleansing each time they read – it might be a simple shuffle of the cards or a meditation. From time to time, you may like to do a more significant cleansing process to really reinvigorate your cards. Again, choose what method and what frequency feels right to you.

Keeping Your Cards Clean

Now that you’ve cleansed your Tarot cards, how do you make sure they stay ‘clean’? Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Keep your Tarot cards wrapped in a special cloth or stored in a special Tarot box.
  • Store your cards with a quartz crystal which is a wonderful absorber of energies. If you want to keep your crystal ‘clean’ too, then use any of the cleansing techniques above.
  • Place your Tarot cards at a specially made altar in between readings.

I’d love to hear from you – what cleansing techniques do you use and/or prefer? Maybe you have a new technique to share? Please post your comments below.

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  • Cassie says:

    Thanks Biddy! I used your salt trick and it worked great! I ended up flushing the salt down the “loo” in a sort of spiritual cleansing! It was really easy and inexpensive.

  • PrincessPaulina says:

    Hello, Brigit!
    These are great tips! 🙂

    Here’s one of my cleansing strategies:
    For elemental clearing with “air”, I diffuse 6-10 drops of frankincense, myrrh or sandalwood essential oil, diluted with water, in an oil warmer (a.k.a. tea light “aromatherapy diffuser” such as this one:

    Once fragrant vapors begin to rise from the oil warmer, I fan the deck out and pass the cards through the fragrance, alternating with holding them face up or face down, while doing my own visualizations & incantations.

    Thanks again for a great article!

  • XX says:

    Dear Biddy,

    Thanks for this great article. I just ordered a deck for myself online as there is no shop here that sells tarot cards.I was supposed to get the deck on a Friday the 13th ! But some delay was there and I got it later!! Anyways I was wondering whether using just the moon bathe technique for all the cards would be fine as its hard to get sage or rosemary from where I come from. I somehow feel attracted to the moon bathe technique. Hoping you will reply soon.

  • David Thompson says:

    Hi Brigit, I use the ‘Universal Energy – white light’ visualization technique which has been fine, which I hope kind of doubles up as psychic protection. I keep my cards in a Tarot box made in India ,I also place 4 small pewter buddahs on top, one in each corner facing the center of the box, and I always use the same silk cloth for my spreads. Thanks for the other techniques, next full moon I think I’ll take the whole lot into the garden and say a few prayers, regards David

  • Monique says:

    I use the moon bath, for both cleansing my cards and stones, its works wonderfully, The moon has great energy anhelps clear even your own mind, mediating under the full moon is agreat experience aswell

  • IzzyAnne says:

    Great ideas, thanks.

    I aslo like to bury my cards in brown or bismati rice. I use a wooden chalice for this. i place rice, with or without sea salt in the chalice and place the cards on top. I then cover them wih rice and then place them on an altar. I do this after I have been to a fair or festival where I have done a lot of readings and the cards (and I) feel exhausted. Afterwards I either burn the rice in the fire or bury it in the garden. I do this for for any crystal or stone rings tat i wear wen reading too.

  • Michelle McD says:

    I do a variety of these for different occasions. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of Tarot Parties and have been shuffling the deck in between clients and using a combination of visualization and reiki to quickly cleanse and recharge my deck. And then I always blow on the top to blow away any lingering negativity. It usually does the trick but sometimes I find that if I have a large party or a particularly emotional client sometimes their energy has a tendency to “cling” to my cards and occasionally I have to repeat the process.

  • Kris says:

    I had my cards in a drawer to a looong time. My first reading I did for myself was really disconnected. I took a nap and placed the cards under my pillow and my next reading was very informative. Should I do more? It really seemed it got my energy. I usually just do readings for myself but friends now want readings….should I do more?

  • Akairyuu says:

    Hi. I just got my first Tarot Deck today (Rider-Waite) and I was just wondering that for elemental cleansing, could I use corresponding crystals for each element rather than candles, incense smudge sticks etc? e.g. For Earth clearing, I could sit a Garnet on top and let it’s energy clear the deck, for air I could use Rose Quartz, for water I could use Sodalite and for Fire I could use Carnelian.

    This is mainly because my family don’t allow anything that burns like candles or incense in the house; which I can understand as they are fire hazards.

    • Brigit says:

      The important thing is that you choose a ritual that feels right for you. It doesn’t matter if it’s different to what everyone else is doing. So long as it makes you feel as if your cards are cleansed and you have a stronger connection to them.

  • kassondra says:

    Sorry if this is a stupid comment, but when I am arranging the cards by suit am I supposed to stack them face up or face down? I feel like they should be face down..but I am not sure.

  • Michelle says:

    I will apologize now if this gets really wordy :). Ok I am an empath and I have a great connection with my cards(usually). I recently separated from my husband but am still very much connected to him. I know when something is going wrong for him and I will ask spirit to show me. I will see it and send him some comforting words. We do still love each other a great deal. Well they have shown me that he wants to be with me but is carrying a lot of guilt and heavy burdens. I have expressed much love to him but it doesn’t help him. The other day I was some readings that were not making sense to me. Finally The Star came as an outcome, telling me I was about to receive a revelation in the nicest possible way. I really didn’t get it. Then I started doing a reading from my friend and the cards kept coming up signals of my husband. I stopped the reading to focus on what spirit was trying to tell me. When I thought about The Star and looked back, I realized they been trying to tell me for the last 3 readings I had done.They sent me on a journey with my husband telling me to tell him how I truly feel and eventually in a nice way releasing him of some of his burdens without him knowing. Then they told me to take a temporary retreat, which I did. After that I would not get anything but his journey until I would get upset and ask why they were doing this to me. They would tell me I have been victourious and to keep the faith. The next day they had me clear some other things out of my life and now I am back to getting only my husbands journey and his struggle with me. Can anyone tell me why this is happening?!

    • Brigit says:

      Hi Michelle,

      I think the important thing here is to remember that the Tarot cards are a guide only. You are the one who will know the right decision for you, as opposed to the cards telling you what to do.

      If you’re not receiving helpful messages right now, or unable to truly make sense of them, I would suggest putting the cards down for a period and taking a break. Just be present with what is happening and take some space for healing.


      • Michelle says:

        Hi Brigit,

        Thank you. Yes, normally I would only ask to see. This really has been my strangest experience with the cards! I meditated with them this morning and asked to see what they were trying to tell me. They told me I was not being objective and to take the emotion out of my work. A lesson in controlling my empathy I think. I sometimes see an unpleasant experience with him and another really close friend and rather than do what I should, understand and guide, I consume their sorrow which doesn’t help anyone. We all have lessons to learn, mine being to let them learn theirs 🙂 I acknowledged and felt my connection return. Thank You so much for replying! 🙂

  • ellie says:

    I need help

    My mother in law gave me some tariff cards from her sister that passed away. I got a regular tariff card deck, a Crowley deck and some sort of stones that are used for reading as well…my question is….can these be cursed?

    • Mia says:

      If your worried they are “cursed” just give them an Earth bath with sea salt and some dragons blood resin mixed in with it and maybe some angelica root pieces as well and leave both decks and the stones in that mix for a good week and you should feel that bad juju has left at that point

  • ellie says:

    Sorry I meant tarot cards

  • Julie says:

    Thankyou for your advice on cleansing, I received a second hand deck just recently and wanted to cleanse it and was asking it mattered in a moon bath if it the cards were left under or behind glass to prevent any further damage? Will you still have the same cleansing effect than leaving them out in the open air?

  • Camlica says:

    Iv reacently bought a pack of tarat cards from a local charity shop ;
    i knd
    ew that all my tools secondhand or new had to be clensed i didnt know how to do this but found your wonderful website through a friend .
    I have just done the salt cleanseing and put it into freshair wrapped in an airtight container .
    Thank you so much for your tips .
    Iv your page on my shortcuts .

  • VSN says:

    In the last week or so I did multiple emotionally draining readings and especially YES/NO spreads because I wanted to know how accurate they are. In the end I did so many that confused and drained me so that I believe even my Tarot cards were “exhausted” and stared backfiring me. So I did one last YES/NO one-card reading inquiring if they needed some sort of cleansing. Pulled 8 of cups… guess they even told me their preferred method of cleansing, under a full moon 😀 Thank you very much for the tips!
    P.S.: in the end I believe that out of all the YES/NO types of spread the one-card “says it all” one is the most accurate.

  • Rebecca says:

    Hi biddy, great article!! 🙂
    I have a ‘worry’ I was wondering if you could help with??

    I have a pack of tarot cards (aquarium deck)
    I brought them new about 3 years ago.
    I haven’t used them and they were on my shelf idle for about 2 months. (wrapped in a special cloth)
    How ever, I wanted to use them, and placed them under my pillow for a few nights. And shuffled them to reconnect with them.
    But lately I didn’t want them in the room with me, (kept in my bedroom, their more for personal use, for now) I was getting scared from them like their was ‘something bad’ with them, almost as if there was an ‘evil energy’ with them, so I placed them out on my dresser in my hallway, before I went to bed last night and I have dreamt that there was a spirit outside my bedroom, who just flung my bedroom door open, I immediately awoke with the fright and the deck of tarot cards popped into my head, I was wondering do you think they are linked?
    Is there something wrong with my cards? I bought them my self, I know their better if they are givin to you.

    I’d greatly appreciate your advice, thanks in advance 🙂

    • Brigit says:

      You’ve got to go with what feels right to you. If you keep feeling icky every time you think about those cards, they might not be the right deck for you.

  • Amateur Empath says:

    Hello there!
    Being quite new to tarot, I have a question regarding storage. I still live with my parents, being a minor and all, and they are very closed-minded toward these matters and also very controlling. I recently obtained a deck of tarot cards from an older friend- cards of my own to scry with! I have been keepin them in a hidden compartment of a box of jelly beans underneath the head of my bed. I was careful to make it look like I was hiding food rather than tarot cards as this way I would get in less trouble. The thing is, and I’m sorry if this question comes across as strange or offensive, but I was worried that the residual energy of the jellybeans would affect the cards with their energy. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I want my readings to be as accurate as possible. I don’t want my cards getting a sugar rush all of a sudden! ;P

    Any advice would be appreciated! Xx

  • Brittany says:

    Hi Brigit,

    I use the moon bath cleansing. I never thought of using a quartz crystal, but am definitely getting some!

  • Maria says:

    It has been a while since I’ve worked with the Tarot, but recently I have been totally getting back into it. I have a somewhat unique cleansing process.. I like to cleanse my cards with a combination of sage and nag champa incense (which contains vibrations of all 4 elements), while also having a Tibetan singing bowl ringing.. I’ve found that the sound (waves of energy) help loosen up any bad mojo and help enliven them. My husband and I have all 7 notes of bowls, so before I cleanse I think about the cards and ring them and choose one that attracts me most. 🙂

  • alan says:

    I use the calabastian cross as a general clearance after i clear ( cars and space)with tamaasha ( magnified) chukura marocosim i can feel the energy clear around my feet also north american indian rattles. drums or chinese bells work for me thanks for your great site

  • Johanna says:

    Hi Brigit,

    I heard from a very old lady that if you need to clean your cards quickly from negative energies, You must take your cards in the palm of your hand, and with your fist hit the cards quite hard….
    Is this true?

    • Brigit says:

      You can do whatever you like! Really. For me, I cleanse just by shuffling the cards or taking in a few deep breaths. If hitting the cards works for you, go for it.

  • Ella says:

    I actually lost my favorite deck a few months back and today found them in my shed (must have been misplaced while cleaning). So I sorted them and now have them sitting on my window sill for 24 hours. I heard one time this was a good cleanse because they get energy from both the sun and moon to keep them balanced.
    Just wanted to share!

  • Jester says:

    Thank you so much for this info! I was just gifted my mothers Tarot cards and I can’t wait to cleanse my cards using the techniques listed above and begin my studies to read them correctly, also I now know how to keep them clean and stored correctly, I plan to come back to this site many times for more useful tidbits that you have to offer 🙂 Peace and love to you all.

  • Lorraine Hughes says:

    I put my cards in a purple velvet outside and lined inside string bag, hope this is ok for them?

  • Hal says:

    Hi Brigit
    Thank you for writing this informative article. I recently bought a new tarot deck I’ve been wanting for a while. It’s the wild unknown. Such a beauty! Although sadly i don’t think I’m connecting to it. I’ve cleansed them with sage and crystals (this is my preferred method that I’ve done with all my decks) and I’ve even had them under My pillow at night when I sleep. For some reason I just don’t feel I want to get them out and use them, like I’ve felt with my other decks. I just haven’t had that excitement from them. Should I take this to mean this deck isn’t working for me?

    • Brigit says:

      Ooo, that’s a tough one. I’ve seen the Wild Unknown deck, too, and fell in love with the imagery. But I’m not sure I could use it for a Tarot reading. It’s a little too abstract for my left-brained mind!

      You could leave the deck for now and store it away, then come back to it in a few months and try it again. It might call to you at a different stage in your life or for particular readings.

  • Lisa says:

    As rats are clean animals, I keep a small jar of my deceased rats ashes, along with another personal symbol of cleanliness with my tarot cards in a special mirrored pouch. I hope that their lil souls keep my cards as they kept themselves and their environment.

  • Christine Strachan says:

    I have inherited a pack of Tarot Cards from a very close friend who has now passed away.
    Can I use them if I cleanse them first or should I just dispose of them?
    I would very appreciate your advice as I would like to keep them, but ….. maybe its not to be.
    Thanks very much

    • Brigit says:

      Hi Christine,

      What a beautiful gift, especially in such circumstances. I would be inclined to keep the cards just as they are. They will be carrying the energy of your dear friend, and just think, each time you read with those cards, he/she will be right there with you. You might like to have this deck for personal readings only, or in times when you feel your friend’s energy is most needed.


  • Emmelia says:

    Thanks so much for this post! Lately when I’ve been giving people readings, my cards tend to give nothing but bad news/doom-and-gloom messages. I mentioned this to my boyfriend the other night after giving someone a reading and he agreed with what I’ve been feeling–that it’s time for my cards to be cleansed.

    By the way, does this ever happen to you, where after awhile your cards deliver nothing but bad news? What do you do?

  • [email protected] says:

    I bought a miniature pack of rider waite cards ie easier for travelling with, they came in a metal tin, sealed. Is this ok to keep them in, in metal.?

    • Brigit says:

      Absolutely – very practical!

      • [email protected] says:

        thanks, they are the size of a normal playing cards and it is practical as you say.

  • Angel Davis says:

    I use stones. I have the quartz to clean and clear, tigers eye to protect, but I was totally shut down on my thoughts to think of one for a charging stone. I have a box of 50 or so stones. Any suggestions?

  • elain says:

    nice techniqes! I always like to keep a glass of water next to the deck at all times n change the water after every client or once a week change water and burn a white candle with insence or sage to purify the cards and the environment. but I always like to try different methods so I can learn new ideas on what works best for me

  • deja says:

    Hi Brigit, I have a question about the moon bath: do you lay the cards out in a pile, are they boxed, or in a pouch, or do you lay all the cards out so each of them can be under the moon? Thank you!

  • Faith says:

    Which of these would be most effective for a second-hand Tarot deck that’s been in storage for a long time but has also been used by someone else? I need help deciding on how to star completly fresh with the cards.

    • Brigit says:

      Really, any of them 🙂 But select a method that resonates personally for you. I would probably just handle and shuffle the cards a few times and we’re done!

  • Dee says:

    Someone gave me an unusual deck of tarot cards ,that they said they never used…This person has some real odd vibes (negative to me)…So…i remembered you are not suppose to use anothers cards…I thought well..Ill sort them…and i said something positive over them…Then..I got a baggie and put the deck in the baggie and sealed tight…started running the cold tap water…I shook some epsom salt (all i had), on the top rinsed it off, on the bottom rinsed that off, and on the sides and rinsed off…I may do the candle bit as well…Just to be sure…

  • Algol says:

    I dreamed I was doing a reading for someone who was a little bit skeptical. I had a hard time laying the spread out on the silk scarf I use, & there didn’t seem to be enough room on the ‘table’. I dropped some of the cards. For some reason or another I left briefly, only to return to this person ‘playing cards’ with them – with another person! I was calm (but internally angry) & said to them both, ‘they are not for playing games with!’. I snatched them up & immediately ‘knew’ they needed to be cleansed. I think my cards are telling me something… Full Moon soon.

  • Devyn-Ashley says:

    I recently acquired tarot cards second hand, but I believe them to be stolen. My mum says to not use them without cleansing them and i believe her to be right. Do you have any advice about stolen tarot cards?

  • Katelin says:


    I also wanted to know that when bathing in the moonlight is it okay to be behind glass in the window?
    And if bathing outside in moonlight and or getting fresh air- how should they sit?
    Should they be placed in a cloth for protection or should they be put on the soil to absorb electrons from the earth?
    Any advice appreciated. Thank you. I have just received some second hand decks and last night was a full moon. My quartz charged in the moonlight through the window last night during that full moon period of time. Straight away when i got home- I immediately put all my decks on the window seal with the window open for them to gather fresh air and put a quartz crystal on each one of them for cleansing.


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