CARE & RESTORATION OF CLEAR PLASTICS
This material is even more translucent than glass (that is why it is used in very large aquariums). The material is very hard and brittle, yet can be heat bent or molded. It was originally developed for canopies of fighter planes in World War II. It deteriorates through heat expansion/contraction , especially around metal fittings, resulting in surface crazing (minute “stars” and surface cracks due to a “zipper" reaction of the polymer molecules lining up along microscopic “fault lines” . That is why it is a good idea to protect hatches etc with Sunbrella® covers or a canopy. [ Surface crazing that is not too deep, can be polished off professionally using wet sanding and decreasing grits of abrasive polish . This information courtesy of TAP Plastics with regards to an old airplane canopy].
That is why only mild detergent in water is used to clean plexiglass ISLAND GIRL Pink™ should be used as just a squirt or two in a bucket of water, followed by water rinsing and wiping dry with microfiber cloth. Any surface film from air pollution can be removed by Meguiars plastic polish, PLEXUS , MER-MAIDS®. etc.
On new and/or cleaned surfaces, our CLEAR HORIZONS™ is ideal as a gentle cleaner and surface protectant. Just wipe over the surface and burnish off to a slick, streak-free finish using microfiber cloth.
Note: NEVER use solvents, or even our Cleansers at full strength since they can accelerate the “zipper reaction” in older Plexiglas® and make surface crazing into deep cracks..
CLEAR VINYL (“Eisinglass”)
This material is used in convertible car rear windows, sail boat dodgers, motorboat cockpit side curtains etc. When brand new, this material is VERY clear, but easily scratched while cleaning off grit. It deteriorates by exuding plasticizer, first seen as a whitish haze, progressing to severe surface yellowing, that (like rust on metal) eats pits into the good vinyl below. Eventually, as the vinyl dries out, and cross-links, the material becomes yellowed all the way through and becomes brittle and so cracks easily,
Use of CLEAR HORIZONS™ from new will help keep the surface protected from scratching during storage and will minimize glare by filling in microscopic scratches. It will also make surface dirt much easier to remove by gentle washing. Wash only with very dilute liquid detergent (or IG Pink™), then water rinse, using a soft brush to help remove surface grit WITHOUT rubbing that will cause scratching.
Keeping the car garaged or under a cover will help prevent UV deterioration, as will use of Sunbrella® protective panels on boat dodgers and side curtains.
Care/Restoration of Older Clear Vinyl
Beginning deterioration of clear vinyl is seen as surface "milkiness". Wipe off with a little NEUTRAL CLEAR™ or (better) SEA GLOW™ on micofiber cloth. Neutralize with water and wipe dry with clean microfiber cloth, Finally apply CLEAR HORIZONS™ and burnish off with microfiber cloth for sparkling "as new" transparency. In this way, plasticizer that had migrated to the surface (causing surface milkiness) is removed but replenished by the conditioner from our Cleanser-Conditioners.
Very oxidized clear vinyl is covered by opaque yellow/brown plastic breakdown products, including migrated plasticizer and oxidized vinyl (similar to the situation with vinyl fenders and cowl vents). Like rust on metal, the oxidation has eaten "pits" in the underlying material. Also, at this stage the vinyl is beginning to get stiff and brittle and, if not treated, it will crack.
In these circumstances, we recommend using SEA GLOW™ which will remove these vinyl breakdown products while impregnating the vinyl with a special conditioner that will replenish plasticizers and inhibit further deterioration of the vinyl. The strong blue fluorescing agents in the SEA GLOW™ will also tend to reverse yellowing in the underlying vinyl.
Use white paper towel to apply the cleanser and to remove dissolved oxidation. As for Lexan®, continue until yellow oxidation is no longer being transferred to the paper towel and stickiness, from the plastic breakdown products, has largely been removed. Then, neutralize with water and use abrasive compound and polish to smooth the worst of the roughness due to pitting. Finally apply CLEAR HORIZONS™ and burnish off the usual way. We are presently obtaining customer feedback to see if the resins of MIRROR HARD Superglaze™ can be used to fill the deeper surface pits, although NON-SLIP Superglaze™ (essentially an aqueous emulsion of MIRROR HARD™) might be easier to use for this purpose.
The above process cannot restore old transparent vinyl to “as new” condition, but a useful degree of transparency will be produced and the effects will last for up to a year For instance, vehicles and pedestrians will again be visible though a convertible car rear window. but details will be a little blurred. Need for a replacement (often $500 or more with labor charges for removing and replacing the top ) can therefore be be delayed for 1-2 years.
LEXAN® (polycarbonate) as in automobile headlight lenses.
Although slightly less translucent than acrylic, Lexan® does not "craze" in response to heat/cold cycles and UV exposure. Far from being brittle, this material is shatterproof and so used as “bulletproof glass” and shatterproof headlight lenses.
It’s surface does not “craze”. Instead, the surface takes on a yellow haze of surface oxidation. Although this can be removed by extensive abrasive polishing, it is easier to dissolve it off using our Cleanser-Conditioners of which SEAGLOW™ is preferable (since it may also help prevent deeper yellowing).
Apply with paper towel, allow to soak for a few minutes, then use a (non-scratching) White 3M Synthetic Steel Wool Scuff Pad ("0000" grade) and white paper towel to remove the oxidation by rubbing vigorously..
Repeat with more paper towel soaked in additional cleanser. Repeat until the paper towel comes up clean (no yellow) and any stickiness (from dissolved oxidation breakdown products) is less apparent. Then, what we used to do was to neutralize actions of the Cleanser with water, resulting in a milky haze on the surface. This was removed with fine abrasive (any chrome or plastic polish). Finally, we treated the surface with CLEAR HORIZONS™ for a slick surface and good clarity. We used this procedure many times to keep lexan storm windows on my Gulf 32 servicable for over 20 years.
An easier process is to use ELIXIR™ (instead of our Cleanser-Conditioners). which is more powerful at removing oxidation and more rich in UV/anti-oxidant protectants, while being self sealing due to its resin content . We could then use either MIRROR HARD Superglaze™
or NON-SLIP Superglaze™ (essentially an aquous emulsion of MIRROR HARD™ to seal and smooth the pitted surface. When the resins had set hard (best to wait overnight), CLEAR HORIZONS™ is still used to neutralize any slight stickiness and provide a slick and shiny surface. We have treated many sets of headlight lenses with variations of this procedure. One such results is shown below.