Cleaning Tips for Plexiglass
By Joan Whetzel
Plexiglass is a brand name for a plastic or acrylic material used for all kinds of applications. It is produced either in sheets, tubes or any custom shape you could possibly dream up. Plexiglass comes in a number of colors and thicknesses, as well as being produced in clear, translucent, and opaque varieties. There are times when plexiglass pieces must be joined together (i.e. aquariums). In those cases there are three techniques for the joining process: heat welding, a special glue known as a cyanoacrylate, or solvent known as dichlormethane or trichlormethane. Plexiglass is used in many of the same applications as glass, but due to its physical and chemical makeup, it cannot be cleaned like glass. Cleaning and maintenance of Plexiglass requires special care.
Basic supplies for cleaning plexiglass include
- Car wax to protect against scratching, but it must be safe for use with Plexiglass.
- An air compressor to blow off dust and dirt.
- Soft cloths and sponges (not sponges with an abrasive side)
- Warm water, which is the best cleaning solution for Plexiglass.
- Laundry detergent, must be a gentle detergent that is safe for Plexiglass
- Plexiglass cleaners that are available from plastics specialty stores (e.g. A1 Plastics in Houston).
What Not to Use
Do not use any of the following products. They will mar the surface of your Plexiglass.
- Do Not Use Windex or similar glass cleaning products containing ammonia, they make the clear Plexiglass turn cloudy over time.
- Do Not Use alcohol.
- Do Not Use abrasive cleaning pads or sponges. They scratch Plexiglass.
- Do Not Use dry cloths, dry paper towels, or your hands to wipe off dust. Some dust or dirt has larger particles than can scratch the surface when pressing down with your hands or a cloth.
- Do Not Use razor blades to scrape off gum or other sticky, gooey substances.
- Do Not Use Goo-Be-Gone and similar sticky substance removers. If you feel this is the only product that will get the goo off, try it on a scrap piece of the Plexiglass, or on an area where it won’t show first. You’ll know quickly if the goo removing product will stain your plexiglass or turn it cloudy.
Cleaning and Maintenance Tips
- Make sure you always use the correct cleaner, one that is compatible with Plexiglass. Read the labels. If you are still unsure, contact the nearest store that deals with Plexiglass and ask questions about the best cleaners. Better yet, ask the person you buy your plexiglass products from about which over-the-counter products are the best to use.
- Use the correct cleaning cloth or sponge. The abrasive side of some sponges will scratch your Plexiglass. Using your hands will make smudges worse because of the oils in your skin. Using dry cloths to remove dust can create scratches. Using an air compressor is best for removing dust or dirt. Using a soft cloth or sponge and the proper liquid cleaner is best for most handprints other spill type problems. And always make sure your cleaning cloth is clean before using it.
- Take care when moving Plexiglass and other acrylic products. Plexiglass, while incredibly resilient, can crack or shatter when dropped at the wrong angle or when it goes flying (off the top of your car) at high speeds. Small shards can break off and become flying projectiles that will cause serious, even fatal, wounds. The broken edges are quite sharp, cutting through skin easily.
- Be careful what you set on top of your Plexiglass. Anything with a sharp edge (including hard toys, toy cars, and the like) will scratch the Plexiglass or even break it. Make sure the kids don’t play on tables with a Plexiglass top or use their toys on Plexiglass barriers (used for protection on places like balconies).
- Colored markers will stain Plexiglass. So make sure you keep these pens away from your Plexiglass surfaces.
- Most scratches can be removed from Plexiglass. A mild abrasive polish (i.e. Novus #2) which is usually available from the Plexiglass dealers, can be used to remove finer scratches. Translucent and opaque Plexiglass tend to hide the scratches far better than the clear variety. You may never be able to get rid of or hide deeper scratches, especially from clear Plexiglass.
- Using car wax and a soft pad will help repel dirt and dust, and even some liquids. Buff it with a chamois the same as you would with your car.
Taking care with your Plexiglass will that it stays looking good for a long time. All it takes is a little cleaning and scratch prevention.
American Heritage Dictionary. Plexiglas.
ePlastics. How to Clean and Remove Scratches from Plexiglas Acrylic.
WikiHow. How to Clean Plexiglas.