How to remove staining/marks off of popcorn bucket?

BlackLodgeBambi

Earning My Ears
Joined
Jun 11, 2019
Hello everyone! Hopefully I selected the appropriate thread to place this in. Just a question relating to the cleaning up of the popcorn buckets we all know and love.

I have this Zero popcorn bucket that I was lucky enough to get my hands on. It's in good condition save for a minor flaw, which is this staining/marking on his cheek. I am not sure what it is exactly, since it was bought secondhand a while back. I have tried to remove the marking by giving it a few quick wipes with Dawn dish soap, with no luck. Also tried a quick rubdown of the spot with 91% rubbing alcohol, which is said to remove permanent ink from plastic. Neither of these attempts seemed to yield any results.

Before I go Googling any further, might anyone here have experience themselves dealing with this scenario? I figured that there may well be collectors somewhere amidst all of us who may have a tip or two for how to proceed, without worsening or otherwise ruining the item. I would appreciate any tips or words of advice!
 

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NYCgrrl

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 13, 2017
Haven't had this issue either but Krud Kutter works well to remove permanent marker from plastic.
Put some on a cotton ball and bandaid it directly on the spot; remove about 30 minutes later and with minimum elbow grease it should be gone.
 
  • BlackLodgeBambi

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jun 11, 2019
    Thank you all for your answers, I do have an update!

    I went back at it again with rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip. After it dried, I also used a plain rubber eraser over the spot and it helped! Maybe I just didn't wipe long enough with the alcohol the first time, but I did find that using these two things definitely did something. You can now only faintly see where the spot was. I think this is as good as it gets, but surely an improvement from before!

    While this worked for me, the other effect I noticed was sort of a lack of glossiness where the alcohol and eraser were used. (It may be hard hard to see in the photo, video attachments don't work here.) This is not a big issue for me only because it's hardly noticeable unless you're really scrutinizing - and Zero being white in color probably helps. That being said, I cannot guarantee that this method will be effective for other buckets that have color on them. I am not sure if this fading is just of the glossy finish, or if it would have been a color fade in another case. Either way, it could possibly be more noticeable in that scenario, so I just wanted to include that information as a forewarning. Maybe test on an inconspicuous spot first just as a cautionary step.

    Thank you all again for your recommendations, though! Hopefully any info here might someday be helpful to another fellow DIS-er who may be wondering the same thing! I might consider putting your other suggestions to the test with thrifted plastic toys sometime, just to compare and see the results! 🧐 (Also, I can't have been the only one wishing I had the help of the professional Toy Fixer Upper from Toy Story 2 - the one who cleaned Woody up all nicely! 😅)
     

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  • cobright

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 6, 2013
    Before I go Googling any further, might anyone here have experience themselves dealing with this scenario?
    It looks like your Zero was bapped into or rubbed against a painted handrail or fence or something and some of that paint pigment stuck. This isn't the same as getting paint on the plastic, the pigment can actually get absorbed partially into the plastic.

    Start by just dragging the back edge (the unsharpened part) of an exacto knife over the area and see if some of the black specks come away. You don't want to gouge the plastic but you want to get rid of the pigment as much as possible.
    I have tried to remove the marking by giving it a few quick wipes with Dawn dish soap, with no luck. Also tried a quick rubdown of the spot with 91% rubbing alcohol, which is said to remove permanent ink from plastic.
    Dishsoap is a great place to start because it degreases the area. It won't get rid of the pigment unless the mark is just barely holding on, but it will clear most everything else off that would otherwise muddle up the job.

    Alcohol, is pretty mild and might help if the pigment is just on the surface of the plastic, but I suspect this was caused by an impact and the black part goes a little deeper. Stronger solvents like goo-gone or mineral spirit are tempting but the risk is that they will soften both the pigment and the plastic toy and just mush them together even worse.

    I haven't had the issue, but have you tried gently rubbing the spot with a Mr Clean eraser?
    Magic erasers are great for this because they act as both an abrasive and a polish.
    I second the Mr. Clean sponge. I have no earthly idea what is in those sponges, bu they take a lot of stains off.
    They are made from formaldehyde, melamine, and sodium bisulfate. You can get the stuff in bulk by searching for melamine foam.

    With a little bit of water, the friction of rubbing against something breaks down the sponge a bit into a very fine abrasive. The rest of the sponge acts to grab any bits of stain that the abrasive grinds off.

    While this worked for me, the other effect I noticed was sort of a lack of glossiness where the alcohol and eraser were used.
    Not surprising. the mold the plastic is injected into gets a bit of wax first (or the plastic is formulated to exude a bit of waxy release as it hardens) that serves as a bit of polish. The pencil eraser is actually pretty abrasive as well so you've likely taken the shine off the plastic.

    Try using a magic eraser. It's abrasive but much much more fine than a pencil eraser. If that doesn't get you back to perfect, one of those headlight rejuvenation kits will. They are used to clear up plastic headlight lenses and involve a buffing pad for a power drill and a squirt of plastic polishing compound. This is a no-fail fix but there is a risk that the spot you touch up will end up glossier than the rest of the toy and now you've got to do the whole thing.
     

    BlackLodgeBambi

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jun 11, 2019
    It looks like your Zero was bapped into or rubbed against a painted handrail or fence or something and some of that paint pigment stuck. This isn't the same as getting paint on the plastic, the pigment can actually get absorbed partially into the plastic.

    Start by just dragging the back edge (the unsharpened part) of an exacto knife over the area and see if some of the black specks come away. You don't want to gouge the plastic but you want to get rid of the pigment as much as possible.

    Dishsoap is a great place to start because it degreases the area. It won't get rid of the pigment unless the mark is just barely holding on, but it will clear most everything else off that would otherwise muddle up the job.

    Alcohol, is pretty mild and might help if the pigment is just on the surface of the plastic, but I suspect this was caused by an impact and the black part goes a little deeper. Stronger solvents like goo-gone or mineral spirit are tempting but the risk is that they will soften both the pigment and the plastic toy and just mush them together even worse.


    Magic erasers are great for this because they act as both an abrasive and a polish.

    They are made from formaldehyde, melamine, and sodium bisulfate. You can get the stuff in bulk by searching for melamine foam.

    With a little bit of water, the friction of rubbing against something breaks down the sponge a bit into a very fine abrasive. The rest of the sponge acts to grab any bits of stain that the abrasive grinds off.


    Not surprising. the mold the plastic is injected into gets a bit of wax first (or the plastic is formulated to exude a bit of waxy release as it hardens) that serves as a bit of polish. The pencil eraser is actually pretty abrasive as well so you've likely taken the shine off the plastic.

    Try using a magic eraser. It's abrasive but much much more fine than a pencil eraser. If that doesn't get you back to perfect, one of those headlight rejuvenation kits will. They are used to clear up plastic headlight lenses and involve a buffing pad for a power drill and a squirt of plastic polishing compound. This is a no-fail fix but there is a risk that the spot you touch up will end up glossier than the rest of the toy and now you've got to do the whole thing.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to write such detailed explanations and suggestions! 😊 I will certainly bear all this in mind next time I should come across something like this. Looks like a Magic Eraser will definitely be the next thing I try (starting with something thrifted as a tester first)!
     


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