Cleansing Tarot Cards For The First Time + Between Readings

Let’s talk about cleansing tarot cards! Whether you’re working with a brand new deck you need to cleanse for the first time, or need a quick way to clear the energy between uses, I’ve got you covered. Here are my favorite 7 methods for cleansing tarot cards.

When Should I Cleanse My Tarot Cards?

As a rule of thumb, you should cleanse your tarot cards on any of these occasions:

  • When you get a brand new deck
  • Between card readings (for yourself or others)
  • After someone else touches your cards

Do I Have To Cleanse Tarot Cards Before Using?

Yes, you always want to cleanse your cards before using them. Cleansing your tarot cards clears their energy and gets them ready for a new reading.

Just as you clear your mind before pulling tarot cards, you should clear your cards, too. But cleansing your tarot cards doesn’t have to be a big, drawn out ritual. There are many quick and easy ways to reset your cards and prepare them for use.

I recommend cleansing your cards before a reading, as opposed to after. That way you don’t have to try to remember if you already did it or not.

What Happens If You Don’t Cleanse Your Tarot Cards

If you don’t cleanse your cards, you may get an inaccurate reading. This is because the energy from the prior reading is still in the cards.

To be clear, if you’re doing a 3 card pull for someone, and they have 3 different questions, it isn’t necessary to cleanse your cards in between pulling the cards – you can consider that a single reading or session.

The main point is to clear the energy so you don’t get muddled responses to your questions. So if you read for a friend or client, then want to read for someone else, you definitely need to cleanse your cards in between.

How To Cleanse Tarot Cards For The First Time

Let’s say you’ve got a brand new tarot deck – yay! One of the first things you want to do when you get a new deck is to cleanse it.

Just imagine all the people they’ve encountered on their journey, as they moved through a factory, then along to a warehouse or store shelf. They picked up a lot of random energy while waiting for you to find them! So you need to introduce the cards to your energy and make them your own, first thing.

You can use any of the cleansing methods below to initially cleanse your deck.

Then, I strongly recommend you go through the deck, touching each and every card, to get your energy into them. Try a few one-card pulls for yourself as you do this. You don’t even have to ask a question – just see which cards come up for you as you continue to handle the deck.

Once you start to pull cards that feel relevant to what you’re thinking and feeling, it means you and your cards are linked. At this point, you’re good to go!

One more time for clarity: it doesn’t matter which cleansing method below you choose, as long as you do one of them.

How To Cleanse Your Tarot Cards

All the methods below are equally effective, so you should feel free to do whatever works best for you.

Also, these methods apply to oracle cards too! If you’re not clear on the difference, you can read more about that here: Oracle Vs Tarot Cards: Here‚Äôs The Big Difference


Lighting incense and wafting your cards through it is a lovely way to cleanse your cards.

You’ll Need:

  • Incense – I use Nag Champa but any kind will do
  • An incense holder
  • Matches or a lighter


Place your incense holder on a table or flat surface, and light it. If you haven’t worked with incense before, the flame will usually go out by itself fairly quickly, and you’ll be left with a aromatic line of smoke rising from the incense stick or cone. If it stays aflame, just blow it out yourself.

You don’t need to do one card at a time unless you feel guided to do so. I usually cut the deck into 3 parts, so they’re easier to hold. Then I fan them out and hold them several inches above the lit stick, so the smoke hits them.

As you’re cleansing your cards, keep your intentions for clearing their energy in mind. You don’t have to say any special words, just try to stay present and focused on what you’re doing.

One safety precaution with this method: don’t set your cards too closely to the incense holder, where the ashes fall. The last thing you need is a burn hole in your cards!

Cleansing tarot cards with incense
Cleansing tarot cards with incense


If you love working with crystals, this tarot cleansing method will be super easy for you. Each type of crystal carries unique energy, and you should feel free to use whichever crystals that call to you.

But there are some crystals that do a really great job of clearing energy:

  • Clear Quartz is a natural amplifier, so it will pick up on your intentions and give them more power. It ushers in mental clarity, too, which will help with your readings.
  • Rose Quartz radiates the soothing energy of love, peace, and well being. This is my go-to, all purpose stone.
  • Selenite has purifying properties that brings in angel energy
  • Black Tourmaline has very protective energy and clears negativity

You’ll Need:

  • Your crystals of choice


Using crystals to cleanse your tarot cards could not be more simple. Just place your crystal(s) right on top of your deck. Then, set your intentions so they know what to do, and leave them to their work.

I’d give it at least half an hour, but you can leave them overnight if you have the time.

For more fun ways to use your crystals, read this next: How To Use Crystals: 6 Ways to Put Healing Stones to Work

Using a wand, like the one in my image below, is really nice for this process because you can wave it over your deck. I also have several pieces of rose quartz (my favorite):

cleansing tarot cards with crystals

Smudging With Sage

Where are my sage lovers? If you have a bundle lying around, you probably already know that it’s an expert at clearing energy. In addition to clearing your home, you can use sage to cleanse your tarot cards.

You’ll Need:

  • A dried sage bundle
  • Matches or a lighter
  • You may choose to use a feather to direct the smoke, but it isn’t required


This is similar to the incense method. Fan out your cards on a table or any flat surface. Then light your sage and waft the smoke over your cards, while holding the intention to clear their energy. This only takes a minute or two. But you’ll know when it’s time to stop ūüėČ

If you want more details on smudging with sage, read this next: How to Smudge with Sage

cleansing tarot cards with sage
Cleansing tarot cards with sage is effective and smells wonderful!


Some people will instruct you to fill a bowl with salt and place your cards inside. Frankly, I think this is little bit messy, not to mention waste of salt, lol (it’s not like you can repurpose it since it’s soaking up all the unwanted energy from the cards).

So I came up with this method and it works really well.

You’ll Need:

  • A small favor bag
  • A couple tablespoons of salt (pink or white, it doesn’t matter)


Fill your little favor bag with salt and place it on top of your tarot deck. Set your intention for the salt to absorb any residual energy from the cards. You can save the bag for next time, or toss it. You can also combine this method with crystals, if you have them.

cleansing tarot cards with salt
Cleansing tarot cards with salt

How To Cleanse Your Tarot Cards Without Tools

If you don’t have the tools I mentioned above, or simply are pressed for time, that is perfectly fine! There are plenty of other ways to cleans your tarot deck.

Knock On Your Tarot Cards

This is hands down the fastest and easiest way to clear your deck. Knocking your deck works especially well in group settings, if you’re doing one reading after another for a group of friends or clients.

Simply hold the deck face down in your non-dominant hand, and give it a good, firm tap with your other hand, as if you were knocking on a door. Done!

knocking tarot deck
A single, firm knock on your tarot deck will clear its energy.

Cleansing Prayer

As I’ve mentioned before, the most important part of cleansing your tarot deck is intention, intention, intention! So a simple prayer or affirmation will do the trick.

Feel free to come up with your own wording for cleansing your tarot deck with this method. There’s no need to overthink it, because as long as the words are coming from your heart, they will be perfect. But if you want some help, here’s a suggestion to get you started.

Please clear all energy from these cards and charge them with positivity and light.

Cleanse Your Cards With Moonlight

My final suggestion for clearing your tarot deck is to harness the power of mama moon – especially when she’s full.

All you need to do is place your card deck in front of a window, overnight (don’t leave your cards outside because they could be damaged by weather). If you need to know when the next full moon is, you can check here: 2022 Full Moon Calendar: Names, Dates & Times

As an alternative, you could fill a spray bottle with moon water and your favorite essential oils, and give your deck a spritz or two! It’s a beautiful way to cleanse your deck, and prepare the space around you for your reading. Read this next to learn how to make a batch of moon water: How To Make Moon Water: Try This on the Next Full Moon


I hope you picked up some new tips for cleansing your tarot cards! Please leave me a comment below with your favorite method – I would absolutely love to hear from you!

XO, Andrea

Andrea Scalisi headshot

Andrea Scalisi

Andrea has been practicing Astrology, Numerology, and Tarot for many years. She is a certified Aromatherapist and Reiki Master in Central NY, and also holds a Masters Degree from Syracuse University. Andrea loves helping her readers bring more spiritual self-care into their lives.

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