When cleaning clear plastics such as Acrylic, Polycarbonate, and PETG it is important to understand what is safe to use and what is not. Despite looking much like glass, clear plastics are polymers with complex structures that respond poorly to glass cleaners. Traditional cleaners such as Windex, Formula 409, or denatured alcohol can cause irreparable damage to clear plastic. Cleaning Acrylic (Plexiglas, Acrylite, Perspex), Polycarbonate (Lexan, Makrolon, Merlon), or PETG with alcohol or ammonia-based cleaners can accelerate yellowing, cause haze, and in some extreme situations cause crazing. Yellowing, haze, and crazing is common in aging plastics and is hard to avoid completely, but using plastic-safe cleaners can extend the life of your plastic drastically.
Crazing is a breakdown in the structure of plastic due to tensile stress. As crazing worsens it will lead to the plastic becoming brittle and fracturing. Higher quality plastics are less prone to crazing and will better stand up to the use of glass cleaners, but plastic-safe cleaners are best.
Below: An example of crazing in Acrylic.
If you are lucky enough to not cause your plastic to craze, you will still end up accelerating its eventual breakdown and yellowing by using alcohol or ammonia-based cleaners. Avoiding alcohol and ammonia-based cleaning products is key to keeping your plastic looking good and lasting long.
What is Safe to Use?
We recommend using Brillianize!
Brillianize is an alcohol and ammonia-free Acrylic cleaner which is safe to use on all clear plastics. It was created in the 1950s for cleaning Acrylic airplane windscreens. It has since become the go-to cleaner and polish for cleaning plastics of all kinds.
Beyond just cleaning the plastic, Brillianize also has an anti-static and high-gloss finish that resists fingerprints and oil.
Below: A piece of Acrylic cleaned with Brillianize on the right, dirty on the left.
Brillianize is safe to use with all plastics and glass. It is well suited to cleaning tabletop protectors, TV screens, windows, displays, shadow boxes, and more.
If you don't have Brillianize we recommend using warm water. Optionally, a mild solution of soap or detergent and water can be used. The following steps should be used for the best results.
Step 1: Gently blow away dirt and debris.
Using compressed air, gently blow off the surface to be cleaned. This will remove all abrasive particles that could otherwise become trapped under your cloth and scratch your plastic.
Step 2: Apply Brillianize.
Brillianize can be applied directly onto the surface to be cleaned or sprayed onto the cloth. Use a damp, lint-free, and non-abrasive cloth. Microfiber cloths work well.
Once Brillianize is applied, wipe the surface gently with the cloth.
Step 3: Rinse with clean water.
Rinse the surface with clean water. This surface is not completely necessary, but may be helpful if streaking or residue is visible on the surface.
Step 4: Blot dry.
Gently blot dry with a dry microfiber cloth.
With that, your acrylic, polycarbonate, or PETG is clean and polished! Contact us if you have any questions, or if you would like to purchase some Brillianize!
Tags: How to clean polycarbonate, How to clean Lexan, How to clean acrylic, How to clean Perspex, How to clean PETG, How to clean Plexiglas, How to use Brillianize, How to clean plastic, cleaning clear plastic,