Plexiglas is one of those brand names that is so closely identified with its product that it has entered the vernacular as a synonym for that product. In the case of Plexiglas, the product is acrylic plastic sheets, which many people simply call plexiglass sheets. Whether you call it Plexiglas or plexiglass, clear acrylic plastic looks best when it is dust- and scratch-free. Cleaning acrylic plastic isn't difficult, but you have to avoid cleaning products that can damage it and abrasive implements that can scratch it.
Cleaning Acrylic Sheets
An electrostatic charge that attracts dirt can develop around acrylic sheeting. You can clean this dirt, as well as surface blemishes and smudges, with a number of cleaners, including:
- Dish detergent and water
- Proprietary products designed for cleaning acrylic
Use a soft, non-abrasive cloth, a micro-fiber cloth or a cellulose sponge. Microfiber works well because, like the plastic, it has an electrostatic attraction to dirt. Dabbing is safer than rubbing, no matter which type of cloth or sponge you use. If you use a solvent, such as kerosene, to dissolve dirt, be sure to remove all of it as quickly as possible.
A number of cleaners can damage plastic and should be avoided. Do not use any cleaning product that contains:
- Ammonia or household cleaners that contain ammonia
- Denatured or isopropyl alcohol
Restoring Scratched or Hazy Acrylic
The recommended way to clean scratches from acrylic plastic is to buff out the scratches with fine-grit sandpaper or a buffing machine and buffing polish. You can buy buffing polish designed for cleaning plastic -- it comes in three grades -- or you can use a DIY substitute, such as white -- not gel -- toothpaste or baking soda. The amount of work involved depends on the depth of the scratches; keep in mind that you may not be able to completely remove a scratch deep enough for you to feel with your fingernail.
Scratch and Haze Removal Procedure
Buff out shallow scratches and hazing with a buffing wheel or a handheld buffer. Spreading fine polishing powder or car wax first lubricates the buffer and produces a glisteningly clear surface.
Remove deep scratches with wet/dry sandpaper. Lubricate the sandpaper with water and sand by hand with a circular motion. Start sanding with a relatively coarse paper, such as 320-grit, then move through the grits to increasingly finer ones until the plastic is scratch-free. Finish off by buffing with polish or wax.
Use a commercial plastic polish system as an alternative to sanding. One such system consists of three grades of polish. Use the coarsest grade first, then progress to finer ones. Apply and buff the polish with a non-abrasive cloth.