Like a lot of tech junkies, I find myself collecting various tech devices. Usually, if I store my gear properly, the electronics will last a long time. One thing that tends to age really, really poorly though is the sort of "rubberized" coating on many objects. This stuff goes from being (relatively) nice to touch and making surfaces easy to grip to something gummy, sticky, and just totally unusable over time.
I read a bunch of articles and watched a bunch of videos purporting ways to clean this stuff, so I decided to give them all a go - along with a few things I have on hand and thought might work better.
The items I'm attempting to de-goop are the plastic pieces from my HyperX Cloud II headset. I've owned it since 2015 (so ~7 years at the time of writing) and recently wanted to swap it in for another headset that is having headband issues.
My goal here is to find something that:
- Doesn't require extreme effort - I don't want to invest 8 hours in removing rubberized coatings. While that would be OK for hard to replace items, some things are just too cheap to bother with that much time.
- Doesn't create a huge mess - Usually these coated pieces are part of a larger item, so I don't want the goop to get all over everything. Also, I don't really want to work with anything that requires special handling or leaves a bad odor.
- Doesn't damage the item - The whole point of this is preserving something, so wrecking it as part of the process is no good.
Cut to the chase, what works on this gunk?
High-concentration isopropyl alcohol. So not the 60% you typically find at the drugstore for cuts and such. We're talking the 95+% kind that you can find on Amazon, beauty supply stores, chemistry shops, etc.
This stuff is really good because:
- It doesn't take a lot of work
- It's cheap and readily available
- It isn't super dangerous to work with
However, make sure you wear gloves while using it. Over time, you can build up an allergic reaction. It wouldn't hurt to wear breathing protection and work in a ventilated area, either.
Obviously, no open flames nearby! Alcohol is VERY flammable!
Okay, so what did you try before settling on this?
- Acetone - This worked, but it also damaged the plastic and removed the paint. It's also way worse to work with than the isopropyl alcohol was.
- Sandpaper - Sandpaper just isn't up to the task, unfortunately. Although coarse grit sandpaper did an OK job at removing the coating, it almost immediately gummed up where the coating rubbed off. I could see this working for removing small pieces of rubberized coating, but you're probably going to go through a lot of sandpaper.
- Dental Pick - The dental pick didn't gum up like the sandpaper did, but it works very slowly and in a small area at a time. Even after several passes, the goop wasn't completely gone. Similar to the sandpaper, I could see this working over a tiny area of rubberized goop, maybe.
- Goo-Gone - This stuff tends to be my go-to whenever something sticky or gooey needs to be removed. However, in this case, it didn't really seem to work well. I applied it with a paper towel and then let it sit for a few minutes, and still the rubberized coating was too sticky to easily remove.
Special mention goes to ammonia, silicone spray lube, and various paints - none of this did jack and/or squat.