Thrifting awesome plastic gear without damage or faded colours can be quite a challenge but when you do discover a fabulous piece of plastic history it’s absolutely worth snapping up and adding to your collection.
Here are my top tips for cleaning thrifted plastic and keeping it in top condition:
Vintage plastics such as celluloid or Bakelite require a gentle touch when cleaning. Modern chemical cleaning solutions can discolour or even dissolve the item. Modern plastics do not require as much TLC however using gentle-based products will help prevent damage regardless of the age or type of plastic your thrifty treasure is made of.
Water + a soft cloth are all that are needed to remove light dust and dirt on the surface of the item.
Water + gentle dishsoap + a soft sponge work a treat for cleaning dirtier items. Simply let it soak in a mild mixture of warm, soapy water to loosen the dirt and then gentle wipe with a soft sponge.
Baking soda + warm water + a flannel rag can be used for stubborn spots. Spread a baking soda/water paste onto the affected area and let it sit for a while then wipe clean with a damp flannel rag.
Grime that has built up in grooves and difficult to clean areas can be gently scrubbed off with a soft bristled toothbrush.
Difficult to remove dirt and grime can be cleaned up with a mixture of mild soap and baking soda gently scrubbed into the area with the soft toothbrush. (baby toothbrushes are brilliant!)
Petroleum jelly (a.k.a: vaseline) buffed onto plastic gives it a marvelous shine!
Before trying any type of modern cleanser on plastic be sure to test it out a small hidden area to ensure it won’t damage the item.
Never put vintage plastic in the dishwasher as it can warp, bleed colour and even melt.
Share your helpful hints for cleaning secondhand gear in the comments below.
Check out all of my thrifty cleaning tips right here!