How to Clean Rust Off of Pressed Steel Toys

Written by marshal m. rosenthal
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Pressed steel toys represent a bygone age when plastic wasn't the prevalent material in toys. Because pressed steel toys are old, the paint in most cases has chipped and flaked off. Additionally, dirt and debris has set in, as has rust. Restoring these toys to their glory days is a painstaking task because the proper cleaning for each toy will require patience, a close eye and a steady hand. But being able to hold a pressed steel toy that has been restored to its original state will be worth it.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Newspaper
  • Shallow dish
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Soft cloth
  • Plastic container with lid
  • Muriactic acid
  • Wooden stick
  • Pliers
  • Hair dryer
  • Paint
  • Paint brush

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  1. 1

    Cover a work surface with newspaper.

    Fill the shallow dish with warm water and add dishwashing liquid. Put the dish on the newspaper.

    Dip the soft cloth in the warm water and wring it out into the dish.

  2. 2

    Gently rub the damp cloth against the pressed steel toy. Increase the rubbing pressure carefully. Select clean sections of the cloth and continue to rub the cloth against the pressed steel toy.

    Frequently inspect the pressed steel toy to see if it is becoming cleaner.

  3. 3

    Put a plastic container down on the newspaper. Measure out 29.6ml of muriactic acid and combine it with 567gr of water at room temperature. Stir the water slowly with a wooden stick. Put the stick aside.

  4. 4

    Grab onto the pressed steel toy with a pair of pliers and place the toy into the plastic container. Close the lid. Leave the container alone for two days.

  5. 5

    Carefully open the lid and remove the pressed steel toy with the pliers. Put the pressed steel toy in a shallow dish filled with warm water and dishwashing liquid. Leave the pressed steel toy in the dish for an hour or two.

  6. 6

    Remove the pressed steel toy from the dish with the pliers.

    Turn on the water in the kitchen sink and rinse the pressed steel toy off in warm water.

  7. 7

    Use a hair drier on the hottest setting on the pressed steel toy until it is completely dry.

  8. 8

    Paint the pressed steel toy so as to reclaim its former look.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear gloves, safety goggles and old clothes when handling the muriactic acid.
  • Keep children and pets away from the work surface so that the toys are not accidentally swallowed.
  • Ventilate the area where the pressed steel toy is being cleaned so that you don't get a headache from any cleaning fumes coming from the muriactic acid.

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