How to clean acrylic plastic

Written by eirik ott
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Acrylic plastic is a type of thermoplastic called polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and is often referred to as plexiglass or perspex. It is a shatter-resistant replacement for glass and often used in modern furniture, aquariums, windows, and office products. Sculptures and other artwork can also be made of acrylic. While items made of transparent acrylic can be very beautiful and sturdy, keeping them clean and undamaged is very important.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Non-abrasive cloth
  • Plastic polish

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Remove any surface dirt carefully by gently blowing it off or running warm water over it. Do not rub.

  2. 2

    Spray the surface of the acrylic with a plastic polish such as Novus #1 or Brillianize. Use a very mild detergent and warm water if a plastic polish is not available. Spray a small area rather than the whole surface.

  3. 3

    Clean the surface with a very soft cloth made specifically for polishing acrylic, using small, slow circular strokes.

  4. 4

    Dry the acrylic by gently blotting the surface with a clean, dry and non-abrasive polishing cloth before cleaning the next small section.

  5. 5

    Remove fine scratches from the surface of the acrylic with a power buffer specifically made for polishing plastic with a clean cotton bonnet. A plastic polish that is slightly abrasive, such as Novus #2 or #3, should be used. Acrylic polishing kits can also be purchased, such as the Economy Hand Kit from ETR Inc (Etr-inc.com).

Tips and warnings

  • Always blow any dirt or dust from the surface of the acrylic you would like to clean instead of rubbing it off with a dry cloth or your fingers. If there is a lot of dust, run warm clean water over it. This will reduce the chance of scratching the surface by rubbing the grit against the plastic.
  • Use disposable cloths rather than reusable ones to ensure the smoothest polishing surface.
  • Never use cleaners with ammonia, as they may damage the surface of the acrylic object you would like to clean. This includes supermarket cleaners such as 409 or Windex.
  • Never use a dry cloth as this will scratch the surface, and never use your bare hands to wipe off acrylic as this will embed dirt and oils into the plastic and eat away the surface.
  • Acrylic can easily crack and splinter if dropped against a hard surface, so store it in a safe space and away from the reach of children.

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