Shopping for PVC cleaner can be confusing because there are two very different types of cleaners for this material. One cleaner works to prep the PVC for gluing and assembly, while the other removes stains and debris from raw materials or finished products. Select the right cleaner for your needs at a local hardware or home improvement store.

PVC pipes staked in construction site
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Large pile of blue PVC pipes.

Ordinary Cleaners

PVC cleaner is specially formulated to clean materials such as PVC piping and window frames. This product contains a range of chemical solvents that work to dissolve stains, grease and debris from PVC. The cleaners are aggressive enough to remove stains from the PVC without damaging the material's structural integrity.

Primer-Cleaners

Some types of PVC cleaners also work as PVC primers and are typically sold in tandem with PVC glue. These cleaners strip residue from the pipe and soften the material slightly so the glue or cement can take hold. When applying a primer-cleaner, coat the inside of the PVC pipe and the outside 1 inch of the pipe. Let the product dry the recommended wait time before applying the glue.

Applying It

PVC cleaners come in spray-on form for easy application. Spray on the cleaner and allow it to penetrate. Wipe off the product with a rag or a paper towel. If the PVC still looks dirty, repeat the process. Primer-cleaners come in spray or can form, which requires a brush for application. Consumers should read the product-specific directions before applying the product to know how long to let the cleaner sit on the PVC. Apply the cleaner by spraying it on or brushing it on, then let it sit the recommended cure time. Follow up with PVC glue.

Other Considerations

Some PVC cleaner performance times are affected by temperature; they take longer to work in cold, wet or humid conditions. Always follow the directions on your product to get maximum performance. When working with PVC cleaners, wear gloves. Some brands of PVC cleaner can stain your skin; PVC glue sticks to the skin.