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Cleaning Vinyl Map Cases, Page Protectors,etc.


Army.ca Veteran
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I wanted to post this up there, as it's a common question I get at work and seeing as how alot of folks in the military use items like vinyl map cases, page protectors for SOP lists, etc. I figured this might be helpful:

Time is of the essence!  If you mark your map case, nyrex folder, or page protector with Staedtler or other permanent marker, don’t delay more than 12-24 hours in getting it cleaned off.  Anything beyond 24 hours, the ink will start to permanently bond with the vinyl and you’ll always have a residual ‘ghosted’ image of the marking.

Some cleaning agents that seem to work well:

Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol).  Swab the writing off with either a paper towel, or clean rag.

Acetone based nail polish remover.  The pre-moistened swab/pad type containers which most pharmacies sell are very convenient for this.  With nail polish remover, be sure to immediately wash and rinse the vinyl surface off with soap and water as the acetone will eat into the vinyl as it is a strong solvent.

Dry erase markers.  Write over the permanent marker using a dry erase marker; the solvent in dry erase marker will dissolve the permanent marker.  Wipe the residue off with water.

Ash slurry.  Cigarette or wood ash mixed into a slurry with water or spit and scrubbed over the vinyl with a rag acts like a mild scouring powder is known to work at removing permanent marker.

Brasso metal polish.  Like acetone, Brasso has strong solvent properties and can be used to clean permanent marker from clear vinyl surfaces.  However to avoid damaging the vinyl, it should be immediately washed and rinsed off with soapy water.

DEET based insect repellent.  Spray the surface of the vinyl with insect repellent, and swab off the permanent marker.  DEET is very reactive with plastic surfaces, so it should immediately be washed and rinsed off with soapy water to avoid damaging the vinyl.

If you have any other tried and true methods you’ve found for cleaning transparent vinyl surfaces, please feel free to share them here.
I've used the iso alcohol.  You can get some in a Lock de-icer squirt bottle (nice and small - fits in any of the spare pockets of the tacvest) and get a 500ml container from the pharmacy and refill as required.
I've also used vinyl cleaners like Armour All - this one also tends to even up the scratches.

The old spray can silicone works like a hot damn, but you need to wipe it off well, or your markers won't work next time.
DEET for me

.. or even windshield washer fluid. "Joys of being a MSE Op."  ;D
Page protectors

In the C-17 world we get a lot of chages to our checklists inserts etc.

here is a quick trick I learned

In order to keep typing from transferring to the page protectors I use a light coat of hairspray on the pages I am about to insert in said protectors. It gives the pages a light film which prevents any transferrage of typeset onto my higky valued plastic pages.
Forget carrying around rubbing alcohol, hairspray, dry erase markers, brasso, and nail polish remover.  An army in the field already provides copious amounts of the following three Staedtler removers:

1) Naptha

2) Hand Sanitizer (contains alcohol)

3) Cigarette Ash (doesn't need to be wet)
OMG Wonderbread you are absoloutley right!

Mods please lock this thread we all have been shown our ways and needend explore nor expand our knowledge anyfurther in the subject manner.

Now we can use our Hairspray and nailpolish remover for its intended purpose.

Can I bum a smoke?
Oh wait I am not in the Army none of that applies to me.  Mods disregard locking the thread.

Wonderbread said:
Forget carrying around rubbing alcohol, hairspray, dry erase markers, brasso, and nail polish remover.  An army in the field already provides copious amounts of the following three Staedtler removers:

1) Naptha

2) Hand Sanitizer (contains alcohol)

3) Cigarette Ash (doesn't need to be wet)

Some good common sense thinking there.  In addition to that, if you have a med tech that's 'liberal' with his/her access to med supplies, you can probably get some alcohol sanitary towelettes (like the wet wipes that come in IMPs, but moistened with rubbing alcohol).

I've also heard that for protecting the inside of page protectors/map cases, if you dust the surface lightly with talcum based (not corn starch based) food powder, that will help prevent the photocopier toner/printer ink from transferring onto the vinyl.
For cleaning map overlays in the CP, I've used diesel, naptha, and windshield wash... the windshield wash in the best option, doesn't leave a residue like the diesel, not as flamable as the naptha...
Believe it or not a standard white eraser does wonders on markers on "map-tac"
Back in my CP days I used acouple of products that I found invaluable.

- Imbued eraser, It looks like a normal white pencil eraser but has a chemical solvent mixed into the rubber, works like a hot damn.

- Removal Wipes, little single use swabs I scrounged from the pharmacy/med techs.  They are designed to remove tape adhesive etc but will strip sharpie off of anything.  Might need a quick wipe with a damp rag afterwards to remove any chemical residue.
Yes, exactly that eraser...the standard Staedler eraser is also marketed as appropriate for film, I think it also worked when I tried it