After scouring blogs and tutorials, I first cleaned my mat with just a small amount of mild soap and water. It had lost it's stickiness after cutting Kenna's birthday supplies. After it dried, it definitely looked cleaner and it was still sticky! I thought for sure the soap would take the sticky off but it worked. I had also read that using a spray adhesive or a glue stick also works. Maybe I'll try these before I break down and buy a new one. Gotta stay thrifty =)
Speaking of more thriftiness, I also sharpened my blade with aluminum foil because it was snagging when I was cutting just scrapbook paper so I was worried it wouldn't be sharp enough to cut vinyl but it worked like a charm!
It turned out so well! I'm in love (and Kelsea is too) with it and want one for myself and already have one standing order from lil cousin Audi who decided she wanted one after seeing Kelsea's =) The first "kiss cut" I used didn't cut all the way through the vinyl so I increased my pressure by one and kept my blade depth on 6 and it cut through the vinyl but left the backing in tact so the second setting worked better on my Cricut than some of the suggestions I found on Google.