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I have a hand tool - Needle-nose plier that had a rubber that is used as the handle. Currently, I managed to clean up all the rust on the metal and would like to clean up the rubber handle as it is sticky and dirty.

Should I use baking soda mixed with a little water as a paste to clean up the rubber handle or should I buy a new rubber to replace that old rubber?

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I don't think you want to use an abrasive on rubber/plastic coatings, and re-coating them is a bit extreme. So before you try either of those, try some Goo Gone* - it's usually safe, and will get the goo off.

*I have no affiliation with the company, just a satisfied customer.

  • Thanks Chris for the product recommendation. By the way, before I try some Goo Gone, are there some DIY solution that I can get from home? – Larry Morries Dec 13 '11 at 4:52
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    Well, if you're willing to replace the coatings anyways, it can't hurt to try what you have on-hand. It'll either clean it, do nothing, or melt the plastic :) – chris Dec 13 '11 at 13:44
  • Try WD-40. It might damage the rubber though. – Steven Dec 13 '11 at 20:41
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    the Goo Gone is an excellent investment, you'll be surprised at the stuff it can clean. As for DIY try vinegar it works well to cut some types of grease and sludge. – kloucks Dec 15 '11 at 13:09
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    Goo Gone is mostly a mix of citrus oils and mineral oil. If you have orange-based cleaning products like Orange Clean, lemon oil furniture polish, etc etc they will do a similar job. – KeithS Dec 16 '11 at 19:40
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Rubber can usually be de-gunked with a good dishwashing liquid and a brush. Avoid abrasive sponges as they will abrade the rubber as well as the gunk. Products with citrus oils like lemon or orange oil will be very good at cutting really stubborn gunk; then you just wash off the oil with a detergent.

If you really want to recondition the tool, and you can replace the rubber, then go ahead; there will be more gunk and rust under the handle coating, and even completely clean the rubber will be roughed up from general use. For most pliers, you can just cut off the rubber, clean up underneath, and then get yourself a can of Plasti-Dip and re-dip the tool handles.

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Rubbing alcohol worked nicely on a baby carrier handle. It should work well on the tool handles, too.

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Just tried rubber cement eraser, if you don't know what it is, look it up at Google. It worked perfectly for sticky and rubberised plastics. Just get one from stationery shop and rub it on the sticky surface. It is not abrasive and will only take out the gluey part.

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I used finger nail polish remover (acetone) and it did a excellent job.

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Be careful using solvents. The reason the rubber is sticky is oil, either from the skin of your hands or from the environment you work in, has begun to break down the rubber. Rubber handles on tools are glued with a contact cement that will dissolve in goo gone or orange oil. I found some silicone spray that, after a thorough cleaning with a phosphate detergent, creates a barrier similar to what it had when new. make sure the rubber is clean and dry when applying.

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