Crafts-Hobbies Vivian | 29 Jan 2011 12:13 am

How to Clean PVC Pipe

Over 28 years of showing folks how to build PVC furniture, one question I’m often asked is, “why clean PVC pipe before I assemble my PVC project?”

The reason is, when you pick up lengths of pipe from the hardware store they’re always dusty, smudged and have blemishes from shipping, handling and storage. Also, the pipe has manufacturing details inked up and down the length that should be removed if you want your project to look good. And, if you intend to paint your project, it must first be thoroughly cleaned.

All in all, it’s pretty quick ‘n easy to do.

To remove manufacturers imprints and any other mars from the pipe, it’s best to do it before permanently gluing your project. Otherwise, PVC glue may cover some of the markings thus making them impossible to remove.

Tip: cut the various lengths of PVC pipe for your project first, then remove the markings. It’s easier and less cumbersome than working on a 10-foot length of pipe.

Here are 4 ways to clean the pipe…

1. Wipe off dust with a damp rag. Then dab a little powdered cleanser onto a green nylon scouring pad, dampen and simply rub off the markings. Rinse with a damp rag. This method cleans off most marks as well as dirt. (Sometimes this works, sometimes not. It depends on the imprinted ink ingredients.)

2. For difficult imprints, try this:

* Soak a small chunk of 000 or 0000 steel wool in acetone and begin rubbing.
* Clean in short sections of two or three feet, or less, because acetone dries quickly and the ink tends to smear.
* Wipe the pipe with a clean rag before the acetone dries.
* Replace the steel wool with new after cleaning about 10 feet of pipe.

Caution: Wear rubber gloves and an eye shield. Be sure to follow the directions on the acetone container and work in a well ventilated area.

Note: If you use PVC primer before gluing, any overflow can be cleaned up with acetone.

3. Sand the markings with 100-grit sandpaper. (This will, of course, rough-up the pipe a bit. So it’s up to you, depending on what your project is.)

Finally, in my opinion, the easiest way to clean PVC pipe is to…

4. Lightly sand blemishes and inked imprints with a low-cost sanding pad. Get one with medium grit on one side, fine grit on the other. You’ll find them at most hardware stores.

Sanding pads conform to the pipe’s contour and will quickly remove any kind of markings and blemishes. To me, this is much better and easier than fooling around with acetone or other cleaning agents. In addition, light sanding is best for proper paint adhesion, should you decide to paint your project.

You’ll find it’s easy to achieve professional results with your PVC projects by simply following the above cleaning tips.?/p>

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