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Retro Hardware Restoration Tips! - Baking Soda Magic! – (2022/02/17)

Feb 17, 2022

Last year I published a couple of post about my HP Vectra VL5/166 (Part 1 and Part 2), that undergo a good cleanup to remove a lot of grime and yellowing and I promised to revisit the case to finish its cleaning it with baking soda to get all the details.

I did that no long after, but didn`t post about it since only one example for the blog was a bit lacking, until I recently got that Philips 109Es monitor that needed the same process, so here we are!

First… Why baking soda? It`s ideal to deal with surfaces that are slightly rugged and suffering from being tarnished by grime that is hard to remove with liquids and cloths, the rugged texture creates a lot real state that a cloth cannot properly reach, no matter how good the cleaning liquid is.

One solution to that is to use fiberglass pens or “magic” eraser sponges, but using these poses the risk of also erasing the rugged texture of those plastics leaving a smooth and shiny surface and we don`t want that!

So one alternative is to use… baking soda! Baking soda works perfectly to remove stuck grime of these surfaces without damaging the plastic or its texture, with the added benefit of being dirt cheap. You only need baking soda, a toothbrush and a bit of water.

You can put the baking soda onto the surface and the brush, add a bit of water to make a fine paste and scrub away all that tarnish.  Once that is done, you only need to clean the surface with a damp cloth (with water or Windex) and done! The results are quite amazing and the plastics looks almost as new. You can see below my two examples, were baking soda was the hero after the others cleaners reached their limits.

HP Vectra VL5/166

Before (parts that the cloths failed to clean):

In process and after:

Philips 109Es

Before baking soda and at first only with the cloths and cleaners:

In this case, the windows and multipurpose cleaner removed grime of various types, only to uncover a lot of tiny droplets of possibly some kind of floor wax.  The front vessel also was covered with smudges that were resisting the cloths.

After baking soda:


Of course, baking soda cannot deal with things like yellowing, but the deep clean done with this process can be also great for preparing something for retrobrithing, since doing that process with an unclean plastic can produce even more unpredictable results.

 I hope that everybody enjoyed this quick post! See you all in the next one!

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