How to Remove Markings, Writing, and Bar Codes on PVC Pipes

disadvantages of using PVC cleaner

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

They come in various sizes and shapes, and most, if not all of them, have printed on them.

This print indicates manufacturer information as well as the type of the pipe and its dimensions. 

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 aesthetic reasons. 

Fortunately, PVC cleaner made specifically to clean these pipes can help. 

PVC cleaner usually comes in a liquid form and is made to be applied to the exterior surfaces of a pipe.

The cleaner can be used not just on PVC but also on ABS hard plastic and CPVC. 

It is 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. 

That said, for those who want to use the pipes for their looks, the cleaner can be used to remove any printing from the PVC. 

Types of PVC Cleaner

It can be a tricky process to purchase PVC cleaner, as there are two wildly different types of cleaners 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) 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 period of time before you apply any glue. 

b) Standard Cleaners

Standard PVC cleaner is made specifically to clean materials like window frames and PVC piping. 

It has a wide range of chemical solvents in it that dissolve grease and stains from PVC materials.

The cleaners are rather aggressive and can remove stains from any PVC without damaging it. 

How to Apply PVC Cleaner? 

Primer cleaners come either in a can or a spray form. Cans will require a brush to be applied. 

It is important to read the directions on the product before you put 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. 

Below are the steps to take to use the cleaner from the can: 

Step 1- Remove the lid of the tin that holds the PVC cleaner and set it aside. 

Step 2- Remove any excess liquid around the lid of the tin using the foam brush. 

Step 3- Apply more cleaner to the brush by dipping it into the liquid. 

Step 4- Brush the liquid back and forth over the sections of PVC pipe that are printed.

Step 5- Repeat these strokes until the printing is completely gone.

Step 6- Lastly, you will want to let it sit for the recommended curing time and then follow it up with PVC glue.

After completion, you can wipe away any excess liquid from the surface of the pipe using a rag.

If you see any ink leftover on the pipe, go back and do the process again until it is all gone. Then, place the lid on the cleaner tin and toss out the foam brush. 

Many PVC cleaners are available in a spray-on form to make them easy to apply. Simply spray the cleaner on and give it time to soak into the PVC. 

Then, wipe the product off using a paper towel or a rag. If you notice the PVC still looks dirty, you can repeat the process until it looks clean.

Drawbacks of Using PVC Cleaner

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. If you can, you should 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. 

You can instead use abrasion to remove the printing by taking an oscillating sanding tool with a grit of 220 and removing the print that way.

some types of PVC cleaner

A Few Other Alternatives to PVC Cleaners

You could also use plain acetone and a rag to get rid of the marks on the pipes. Just soak the cloth in some acetone and rub it over the print. 

Do this until the writing is gone. You can also use a melamine sponge by dampening it with the cleaner and then rubbing it back and forth across the printing. 

This may need to be repeated a few times, but it will soon present the same results.

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 in it 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. 

Due to the partial softening and the staining of the pipe, you should not use PVC primer in place of PVC cleaner.

When using PVC cleaners, keep in mind that some PVC products have performance times that can be affected by the temperature. 

This means they could take longer to start working in wet, cold, or humid environments. 

Follow the directions on your product to ensure maximum performance. Be sure to wear gloves when working with PVC cleaners, as they can stain and stick to the skin.

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