Cleaning up Plasticville

Last Updated on August 30, 2017 by Dave Farquhar

Plasticville buildings in less than stellar condition are dirt cheap, but restoring them is often possible. There is no need to be afraid of a dirty lot of Plasticville from a train show or Ebay–cleaning up Plasticville is easy.

Of course these tricks work for Plasticville-like buildings from the 1950s as well, such as Littletown, Skyline, Ideal, and Marx.


Plain old dirt cleans up wonderfully using dish soap and water. You will not harm the plastic at all by cleaning them up by hand this way. I would avoid the dishwasher just so you don’t end up losing or melting any parts. This may seem obvious but it’s amazing how many people don’t try this.

If the dirt is embedded into crevices, scrub it out with an old toothbrush. But frequently just running water with detergent will lift the old dirt out with little effort.


If your Plasticville is sporting an unwanted paint job, soak it for a few hours in a purple cleaner like Super Clean. The paint lifts right off and the cleaner won’t harm the plastic in any way. When it’s done, lift the pieces out (wear gloves), then rinse them and let them dry.

For stubborn paint, you can try scrubbing with a toothbrush. The occasional stubborn chip may remain but it will usually loosen with a bit of pressure from a brush. If not, soak it again.


Once you get the old dirt and paint cleaned off, you may find some scratches. If your Plasticville is a bit scratched up, you can polish out scratches with plastic polish intended for car headlights. Practice your technique on the back of a part, then once you’re comfortable with it, polish up the front. Deep scratches may require sanding with fine sandpaper (start at 400 grit and work up to ever finer levels), then finish it off with polish.


Finally, sometimes the buildings look fine but just don’t quite stay together on their own. Here’s how to put them together without resorting to glue.

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