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What's the best, easiest way to clean my toys and action figures?
December 8, 2013 12:40 PM   Subscribe

What's the best, easiest way to clean my toys and action figures?

Over the last few years I've accrued several shelves of toys, vinyl art toys, action figures etc. Over time they get a thin layer of oily dust on them. What's the safest and easiest way to clean these?
I'm not a hardcore collector trying to keep things in ultra mint condition or anything like that, but I do like having em around and would like to clean them without risking any damage or colorfastness.
posted by Senor Cardgage to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total)
 
I would put them in water with some liquid dish soap, wait a few minutes and then clean them with a sponge, or for hard to reach spots, with an old toothbrush. Dish detergent should do no damage to the material and color.
posted by travelwithcats at 12:57 PM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


More info: Cleaning + Protecting Vinyl Toys, cleaning action figures
posted by travelwithcats at 1:02 PM on December 8, 2013


I'd go with an ultrasonic cleaner. (That's the model I have, and it works pretty well.) They use high frequency vibrations to basically gently jiggle the heck out of things and help loosen up grime and dirt. You can put most cleaners in them, but the standard thing to do is just use some warm, soapy water. Warm, soapy water is pretty gentle (though if your action figures have a lot of decals on them then that might be a problem) but the ultrasonic cleaner will make it much more effective and will help get the oil and grime out of little cracks and crannies. Plus, once you have an ultrasonic cleaner you'll find all sorts of good uses for it! They're handy to have.

The main limitation with ultrasonic cleaners is that unless you're willing to lay out a fair chunk of cash on them they tend to have a fairly small compartment. (The chamber on mine is maybe 6" by 4" by 3" deep.) If some of your action figures and toys are too big for the chamber, you'll have to find another way to clean them. I'd still use warm, soapy water as a first pass. Give them a little soaking like travelwithcats suggests, and then scrub gently with a rag and maybe some Q-tips to get into the harder-to-reach places.

If that doesn't work satisfactorily (though I bet it will) I might try a little alcohol. You could use vodka or Everclear (or 95% lab ethanol, if you have access to it) but I'd avoid rubbing alcohol since it's a bit harsher. Be careful there though, test it on an inconspicuous place first (the bottom of a foot or something) to make sure it's not going to cause any damage. It shouldn't, but you never know.

For toys that have a lot of stickers or paint on them which you're worried about damaging, I wouldn't soak. I'd just soak a rag in some warm, soapy water, wring it out really well such that it's only damp, and then gently wipe the item down with that (and with Q-tips, again). Once again, start on an inconspicuous place to make sure that it's not going to cause any damage. Dry it off well right afterward, so that the water doesn't have a chance to dissolve any glue or paint.

This shouldn't be particularly complicated though, just be gentle and use gentle cleaners. Warm, soapy water should generally be enough to get that oily dusty crap off of them. An ultrasonic cleaner will do a better job more easily, but it's not really necessary. I'd still get one though, because they're great to have. :-)
posted by Scientist at 1:06 PM on December 8, 2013


Traditionally, these are cleaned with Mr. Bubble. Shampoo should be a good adult substitute.
posted by Houstonian at 1:46 PM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Recently I asked this question. The soap and water advice I was given worked great.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 2:04 PM on December 8, 2013


Yes, shampoo or bubble bath will be gentler than dish soap and probably just as effective. They'll be much foamier though, so if you go the ultrasonic route I wouldn't recommend them. I'd use dish soap for that, and just be somewhat sparing with it. If you're cleaning by hand though then Houstonian's advice is probably spot on.
posted by Scientist at 2:22 PM on December 8, 2013


a mesh bag top rack rinse and hold.
posted by hortense at 3:06 PM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


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