How to Remove Writing and Bar Codes on PVC Pipes?

PVC cleaner to remove marking and ink from pipes

PVC pipes are often installed in sewer lines and other heavy-wear environments that need to have some seriously resilient materials. 

These pipes come in various sizes and shapes, and most, if not all of them, have some type of printing on them, which indicates manufacturer information, the type of the pipe, its dimensions, etc.

The writing on PVC can be just as stubborn and hard-wearing as the PVC itself, which can pose a problem when you want to use the pipes for decorative or aesthetic reasons. 

Fortunately, PVC cleaner explicitly made to clean these pipes can help. These come in a liquid form and are made to be applied to the exterior surfaces of a pipe to remove ink markings, printing, and bar codes.

PVC cleaners are used as the first step in cleaning a pipe to remove any oil, stains, and dirt from the surface of the pipe before any primer is applied to it for the installation of a coupling joint in industrial settings. You can use them not just on PVC but also on ABS hard plastic and CPVC. 

Types of PVC Cleaners

Purchasing PVC pipe cleaner is often tricky, as there are two different types intended for use with the material. One type of cleaner is designed to prepare the PVC for adhering and assembling PVC pipes, while the other works to clear up debris and stains from both finished products and raw materials. 

The most common types of PVC cleaners include:

a) Standard Cleaners

Standard PVC cleaner is made to clean materials like window frames and piping. It has a wide range of chemical solvents (like acetone, nail polish remover, Goof Off, etc.) that dissolve grease and stains from PVC materials. These clear cleaners are rather aggressive and can remove stains from any PVC without damaging it.

b) Primer Cleaners

Some PVC cleaners are also made for use as PVC primers. They are often sold alongside PVC glue and work to strip away residue from the PVC material while also softening it enough for cement or glue to attach to it. 

When you apply the primer cleaner, be sure to thoroughly coat the interior area of the pipe as well as an inch of the exterior. Allow the product to dry, and then let it sit for the recommended time before you apply any glue. 

How to Apply PVC Cleaner? 

Primer cleaners come either in a can or a spray form. It is essential to read the product’s directions before putting it on the PVC, so you know just how long you should allow the cleaner to sit. Then, apply it either by brushing it on or spraying it directly over the surface. 

Below are the steps to take to use the cleaner from the can to remove the writing on the pipes: 

  1. Remove the lid of the tin that holds the PVC cleaner and set it aside. 
  2. Remove any excess liquid around the lid of the tin using the foam brush. And apply some more solvent cleaner to the brush by dipping it into the liquid.
  3. Brush the liquid back and forth over the sections of PVC pipe that are printed.
  4. Repeat these strokes until the printing is completely gone.
  5. After completion, you can wipe away any excess liquid from the surface of the pipe using a rag.

Bear in mind that performance times may differ based on environmental conditions such as temperature, wetness, cold, and humidity.

If you see any ink left over on the pipe, repeat the process until it is all gone. Then, place the lid on the cleaner tin and toss out the foam brush.

Using Spray-on PVC Cleaners 

Many PVC cleaners are available in a spray-on form to make them easy to apply. If you plan to use them, simply spray the cleaner on the pipe markings and give it time to soak into the PVC. Then, wipe the product off using a paper towel or a rag.

To guarantee excellent results, make certain to adhere to the directions on your PVC cleaner carefully. And don’t forget to wear gloves while handling these substances; they are known to cause staining and can easily stick to the skin when exposed.

disadvantages of using PVC cleaner

Are There Any Drawbacks to Using PVC Cleaner

Much like many other solvents and chemicals, PVC cleaner is a clear liquid that has a surprisingly strong odor.

The vapor it outputs smells similar to ketone and can cause dizziness if it is inhaled. It could also make the user nauseated. So, it’s recommended to apply the PVC cleaner either in a well-ventilated area or outdoors.

Furthermore, the cleaner has methyl ethyl ketones in it, as well as acetone and tetrahydrofuran. These harsh chemicals concern some users who would rather not work with them. You can wear a mask to counteract them or use an alternative cleaning method instead. 

As a PVC cleaner substitute, you can use abrasion to remove the printing by taking an oscillating sanding tool with a grit of 220.

You could also use plain acetone and a rag to get rid of the marks, inks, or bar codes on the pipes. Just soak the cloth in some acetone and rub it over the print until the writing is gone.

What’s the Difference Between PVC Cleaner and PVC Primer?

Although PVC primer does indeed clean the surface of a pipe, it isn’t meant for cleaning.

This is due to the purple additive that can stain the pipe to allow city inspectors to be able to see if the primer has been applied to the pipe. 

The primer is also a softening agent, which helps cement stick to it. This is a feature that regular PVC cleaner does not have, so you won’t have to worry about it weakening.

Replacing PVC cleaner with PVC primer is therefore not recommended as it can cause discoloration and softening of the pipe.

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