Cleaning Plexi

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
Dec 8, 2003
What can you clean Plexiglas with besides nothing? It seems like everything, including my horse hair brush, leaves scratches on it.

I think the manufacturer recommends "mild soap and a soft cloth." I wish it were that easy!
We use the Larson Juhl glass cleaner in the spray can. It really stops the static electricity so that you don't have to brush so much.
I have used the cleaner bought from my plexi dealer, and the plexi cleaner from United. Plus, I keep a bottle of that scratch remover as well.

As for my customers, when they purchase a lot of pieces using plexi, I give them a bottle of cleaner. For one or two pieces, I give them instructions about using a mild soap and water on the rag not sprayed on the plexi, itself.

I include a small size can of plexi / acrylic cleaner with each order I do with the plexi.
Usually the only peices that get plexi are really large (ie: expensive) or extreme conservation using the UV filtering where breakage of glass could ruin something very valuable.

Even on large or extremely expensive glass projects, I will go and buy these tiny little spray bottles for $0.25 or so and fill them with some Tru Vue glass cleaner. Customers love it!
Jay, it's not the horsehair, it's the handle thingy that the horse hair is stuck into (been there, done that).

The obvious solution - which you've probably already thought of - is not to create a situation in which the plexi has to be cleaned. Roll the paper off one side, immediately put the plexi on the framing package, roll the paper off the other side, fit it in the frame.

The only time this method doesn't work is when building a shadow box with walls.

Customers' plexi is usually so abraded that it needs to be replaced.

Jay -
We use Lucite brand plastic cleaner - it has an anti-static additive that helps repel dust. We also use Kinetronics Static Wisks - cost a little more than camel hair brushes, but works better.
Always clean acrylic with acrylic cleaner -- never glass cleaner. I like Novus #1, but there are several good brands on the market, which will not only clean the acrylic, but leave a temporary anti-static property, too.

Apply the cleaner sparingly; applying it to the cloth, and not the surface, is a good suggestion. Buff thoroughly to remove all streaks. And use a soft, cotton cloth (I prefer to use a 'real' diaper).

The 3M synthetic cloth made for glass cleaning is good, too, but watch out for the hemmed edges, as their stitching will scratch.

(Shameless plug, FYI: Cleaning, scratch removal, handling, and cutting will be part of the new "Understanding Acrylic Glazing" class at WCAF, Tuesday, 1/25/05, 6-8 pm)
Here are a few tricks I've learned over the years in handling acrylic sheet:
Before you take the paper or plastic protective sheet off - scrape a 45° bevel on all the edges to remove any burrs left from cutting. If you don't - the burrs will break off and help scratch the acrylic when you clean or polish it. ( I made a tool out of sheet metal with a 90° V notch in it - works great and won't slip off the edge).

After bevling the edges, wipe down both sides and all 4 edges with a damp cloth. This gets rid of the burr scraping dust and kills a lot of the static.

To remove the paper protective covering, peel up one edge and tape it to a print tube and roll up the paper slowly. If you remove it quickly, it will generate static.

When cleaning with plastic cleaner-polish, don't rub fast. It will generate static. Rub slowly and coat the entire surface but let it evaporate without so much rubbing. It's the liquid coating that kills the static. The rubbing briskly builds it back up again.
To avoid scratching from a brush, one can use
Orinetal Hake burshes, make with soft, white
hairs. When preservation is an issue, the final
cleaning should be with water. Commercial cleaners
achieve their "anti-static" effect by having an
humectant as part of their formula. This component
draws water to the surface and, thus, kills the
static. Since one can never know exactly what is
in a commercial product leaving that on the surface, where it can come in contact with the
art, is not wise. A final washing with water on
a chamois will solve this problem and take away
the static.

Most plastic shops use Meguiar's Mirror glaze 3 Professional. It looks like baby poop (tan for the childless). We used Bounty paper towels and only Bounty. Other towels have synthetic threads that can scratch plastic. Bounty has a high rag content.

This stuff only works with light scratches, hazing. For deeper scratches you need to get a buffing wheel. You can get these cheap from Harbor Freight (8" buffers$49). You can then get polishing sticks from a plastic supplier. You rub the stick onto the spinning buffer and then buff the article lightly against the wheel. Try not to get the plastic too hot and don't let the wheel run dry (without compound). This technique shaves layers of plastic off to remove scratches and bring back the luster.

Deeper scratches would require wetsanding with 220 to 600 grit aluminum oxide sand paper (grey sheets). Then buff and then finish with Meguiar's.

For general cleaning Brillianize cleaner and polisher is highly recommended. The Novus products are good but per ounce more expensive.
I have not seen any of the above mentioned products in my catalogs, where are you buying your plexi cleaner?? I would like to give some to each customer that purchases the plexi the first time and would like to see where I can buy it to resell/repackage for those customers that want to get more :D we have been selling a lot of plexi lately (even though I don't like working with it)
The static here is terrible!

help is appreciated

The United stuff that I use is #3107, or there's #5193 or #3689. The scratch remover is #3690 or #5194.

My plastics supplier stocks a material called "Craftics 20/20 Plasti-Cleaner." I really like this the best. It retails for $2.95 for 8 oz.

This stuff really cuts down on the static, too.

Wow....This is some good info.....A meeting of the minds if you will. Plexi has been a bit of a challenge and I am know I have been recomening against it because of the 'problems' it creates.
Thanks for asking Jay, I know I'm siked.