When was the last time you cleaned any of your figure?
Is your Luke Skywalker looking a little brown around the edges, is your Storm trooper more gray than white?
Does your G.I. Joe have dirty, greasy matted hair?
Would you like to have them looking new and pristine again?
Whether your figures have been displayed carefully in a cabinet, on a shelf, desk, or just lying loose in a large storage box the chances are that at some point, if not now, you will need to give them a clean.
But how do you clean them without the risk of damaging them?
Getting Rid of Surface Dust
If your figures only have a fine layer of regular household dust the easiest way to clean them is to use canned air, the type that you can buy for cleaning computers. These usually also come with a “straw” that fits onto the nozzle for spraying into all the little nooks and crannies.
You can also use feather dusters, although generally these are too cumbersome and not really small enough to use on your average figure. You also run the risk of covering the figure in feathers!
A better alternative is to use regular dusting cloths or electrostatic dusters which you can find in most household stores or in the household cleaning section of your local supermarket or Wal-Mart
Removing of Stubborn Stains
For the more stubborn stains, dirt or grease marks first soak the figure in warm water NOT hot or boiling water, as this will damage your figure and any stickers or decals on it will come off.
One of the best “cleaning” products to use with warm water are effervescent denture tablets. Add one or two of the effervescent tablets to a bowl or glass of warm water, then wait for the tablets begin bubbling.
When the tablets begin to bubble place your action figure in the water. The bubbles caused by the effervescent tablets will act to “scrub” the figure clean. When the bubbles have finished, remove your action figure and carefully dry it.
If you don’t have any effervescent denture tablets available then normal household dish washing liquid will do but leave your action figure to soak for a few hours before attempting to clean it.
For the more difficult stains or harder to reach places on your action figure a soft bristled toothbrush or cotton buds are ideal to gently “rub” the surface of your figure and remove any remaining dust or dirt.
Use a soft sponge or all purpose cloth to clean it but do not scrub or use any abrasive materials as these may damage it. Instead of wiping you should gently dab the figure with the cloth to get rid of any excess water.
An easier way to “dry” your figures are to let them “air” dry or with a hairdryer set to blow on cold.
WARNING: If your action figure has any stickers or decals on it DO NOT soak it in water, but if you have to do so for only a very brief time or the stickers and decals are likely to come off.
NEVER soak a figure that has electric wiring or uses batteries in it but surface clean only.
“Dry” Cleaning Your Action Figure
This method is ideal for figures with stickers and decals, electric wiring or uses batteries. Technically this isn’t “dry” cleaning as you still use water but you aren’t soaking the action figure in water as previously discussed but only using a minimal amount which is applied directly.
You will need a jar or small bowl (a dessert bowl is ideal) with some hot, soapy water, a soft haired toothbrush, cotton buds, pipe cleaners and a small soft sponge.
First lightly, and that does mean LIGHTLY, soak your sponge in your bowl, or dish of warm soapy water, wringing off any excess, then carefully wipe ( NOT scrub) your action figure with the sponge, being careful to avoid any areas with stickers, decals or electrical parts.
For smaller or more difficult to reach areas use the cotton buds, they are excellent for this. The pipe cleaners are also good for getting into difficult to reach areas such as the inside of a guns barrel or tubes and other such places.
A toothbrush is also good for general cleaning purposes and getting rid of more stubborn stains but be careful not to “scrub” your figures, make use you use a soft haired brush or you risk damaging them. Use a gentle brushing movement from side to side.
If the stickers and decals need cleaning use a very slightly damp cloth and gently “dab” them to remove any dust or dirt then dry them immediately afterwards.
Ink stains can be removed by using isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) carefully dabbed or very gently “rubbed” over the area BUT always make sure you rinse off the alcohol afterwards.
Be very careful when using any form of chemicals on your figures as certain plastics will melt, bubble, or blister with the use of some chemicals.
If it doubt, seek advice or just use warm soapy water.
If your figure has had candle wax spilt on it this can be removed by freezing the action figure for half an hour, or by using a small amount of lighter fluid on it. But again, ensure you rinse it off afterwards.
Washing Their Clothes
If your action figure has fabric clothes these will also need frequent cleaning and should be done on a regular basis.
Generally if you follow the same rules as washing “real” clothes you should be alright but the easiest and safest way is to soak them in cold water, to prevent shrinkage and running colors, with a mild detergent such as baby shampoo or dish soap.
For particularly stubborn stains use a normal laundry pre-wash stain treatment and carefully “rub” it onto the material with a soft headed toothbrush.
If the stain still remains then redo the above process taking care not to damage the fabric. It is best not to wring or scrub the material or you will risk damaging the cloth or material.
To dry the clothes either air dry them or dab them with a dry cloth or sponge in order to soak up the excess water.
Hair Wash Day
If your figure has flocked or rooted hair, rather than molded hair, this can also be washed much like real hair.
Any ordinary baby shampoo is the best to use applied gently with either a sponge or soft headed. Rooted hair can be washed just the same as hair but obviously you will need to be much gentler with it.
The key thing to remember is not to rub it vigorously like you would your own hair or your figure will end up bald!
To dry the hair squeeze, pat or press the hair or leave to air dry. For greasy matted hair use hot water and a fabric softener will help to get out any tangles or matting. If the hair needs “remaking” you can use a dolls hair brush to “re-style” it. However in some extreme circumstance you may wish to over and completely re-root or re-flock the hair.
There are several companies on the net who offer this service and will often offer a custom designed flocking for you.