Diecast Metals: Can it be Cleaned | Detailed Guide to Cleaning

One of the most important things to do to maintain your model car is to be sure that it’s clean. However, there are some rumors telling that cleaning models would cause rust. What happens if you clean a diecast metal? Can it get rust as a result? Let’s find out.

Diecast metals can be washed and cleaned. Washing your diecast metal is very important if you want your models to remain in top shape. The act of washing removes dust, most, or any form of impurity that can cause harm to your model’s paint and discoloration on the metal surface.

In this article. we will discuss the importance of maintenance and how to do it like a pro. Happy reading

Can you clean die-cast metal?

Diecast metals can be cleaned which is important in maintaining their looks. However, you should take note that it is not as easy as wiping your diecast with any towel. It is important to know how to properly clean your diecast metal to avoid discoloration.

You can clean diecast metals to remove dust, mold, or any form of impurity that might be on the exterior or interior.

However, like anything worth doing is worth doing well; below are some of the steps to follow to eliminate any loose dust or dirt from your diecast metal toys.

  • Using a soft, non-abrasive cloth or towel, wash the die-cast metal object. 
  • Using a small vacuum cleaner, remove any loose dust and filth from your die-cast metal object(s). 
  • Fill a dish with 1 cup of lukewarm water if you’re washing a small die-cast metal object. 
  • If the object is large, fill a bucket with 1/2 gallon of lukewarm water.
  • Dry the die Cast metal with a gentle, dry towel but not a rag (because it could have some impurities in it).
  • To prevent rust in the nook and crannies, use a cotton bud to gentle damp the interior or air dryer set to a very low temperature at some distance from the model for not more than 5 minutes; ensure that it is thoroughly dried and is in good shape for wax, polish and displaying or storage.

Die-Cast Metal Waxing

Diecast metal waxing is important for two reasons. One of which is that it shines your model making it look fresh every time. The other thing is that it serves as a protective layer to make it water-resistant and for dirt or any impurities not to cause harm to the model.

Using a soft, lint-free cloth or rag, apply 1 tbsp. of nonabrasive carnauba wax.

Wipe the wax-soaked cloth or rag over the die-cast metal piece. Allow the wax to haze over the die-cast metal.

Using a clean soft cloth or rag, wipe the wax from the die-cast metal piece. To restore the shine of the metal object, fold the towel in half and gently buff it.

Choosing your wax is extremely important as some wax can cause harm to your diecast. The thing I am using is the Turtle carnauba wax which works like charm.

It not only cleans but also shines your diecast metal. Works like charm.

However, do not wax all the time. It is important to clean your models once in a while but in my experience, frequent waxing is not a good idea as someone told me that it can thin the clear coat.

But here is the wax I am using both on my car and my models.

What Happens If You Clean Diecast Metals?

If you clean your diecast metals, the quality of your model will remain. This means that it keeps your models in good shape making it easy if you decide to sell them in the future. Another is that well-maintained models look more expensive to collectors and would prove your competence as a collector.

So, what will happen when the clean diecast metal

  • Preserving Quality
  • Appreciation of Value
  • Proves Competence

Quality preservation

Nothing stays the same, but if you don’t make an effort to keep your diecast in good shape, it will lose value on a daily basis.

Cleaning, drying, waxing, polishing, and storing or exhibiting it at a suitable temperature will all help to keep it looking new.

Contrary to popular assumption, aging is not a drawback but rather a competitive advantage, and this is especially true with diecast collectibles, where the older they get, the more valuable they become.

Appreciation of value

Diecast model vehicles appreciate in value, especially if they are well-made, accurate, and long-lasting.

This is due to the fact that diecast models are comprised of metals, allowing them to last longer.

The more time passes, the rarer they grow and the more expensive they become.

However, you will only be able to sell your diecast for a premium if it’s properly maintained by cleaning, waxing, polishing, and protecting it.

Collector’s Competence

People don’t doubt things if you have proof.

The size and condition of your collections reveal a lot about you as an enthusiast.

As a collector, I am always excited to show off my collection to other collectors, therefore I make sure it is always in good condition.

This is because to do otherwise is to be broadcasting incompetency and nonchalance in the circle of friends and associates.

How to Properly Clean your Model

Cleaning is diecast model is an essential part of being a collector. Which be approach as a DIY project or outsourced if you rather a professional handle such tasks for you.

Cleaning is a diecast model your diecast metal could fall under 

  • a minor task such as dusting and washing it periodically or
  • A major task ranging from removing a heavy stain to having to restore a damaged model with painting, waxing, and polishing

Of course, the major cleaning will require more resources and time which when done will bring you delight and confidence to show them off to friends and family.

When washing, the most important thing to remember is to be gentle with it and to keep in mind that the paint may not be completely bound to the metal, and a thorough rubbing, also with tissue paper, can detach it.

Pay extra attention to decals and tiny features like painted numbers. It’s not a terrible idea to inspect it with a magnifying glass in between to make sure you’re not wiping off paint.

Some individuals believe that if a model is dusty on the inside, it is junk.

If you put in a little time and effort, this isn’t always the case.

These are instructions for cleaning a dirty or dusty diecast’s interior. Remember that everyone does things a little differently, so these recommendations are just suggestions.

Step 1: Assess the condition

  • What’s the state of your diecast?
  • Is the dust/dirt “caked” on (i.e., won’t come off easily), or is it light?
  • Does it have a battery on?
  • Are the dust just dust or they appear to be oily?

Check these to have a proper assessment of your model car.

Step 2: Remove heavy dust

This can be accomplished in a variety of ways.

Tweezers or a cotton swab can be used to remove large dust balls.

After that, consider cleaning keyboards using compressed air from a can (use caution around decals and delicate areas).

On diecasts, vacuums should not be utilized unless there are no risky parts. Around delicate parts, a hand-squeezed “air-bulb” is recommended.

But if you want to be thorough in removing dust, then I recommend an airbrush, air duster, or brush.

The best one here is the airbrush. Not only would you use it in cleaning, but you also could use it in using high-quality paint and clear coat to your models. It’s a must-have for serious collectors.

Air duster is also good but it’s exclusively for cleaning. If you don’t plan to paint your models, then it is a good choice to save some money.

Make sure to use the brush I’ve recommended because it’s not harsh to the model. Some brushes are actually pretty hard to the model leading to scratches. The bristles in the one I’ve recommended are very soft and gentle but will clean the model.

CommentsRecommended Product
Air BrushBest in CleaningCheck on Amazon
Air DusterGood Alternative to Air BrushCheck on Amazon
BrushCheapCheck on Amazon

To get more information on removing dust including hard-to-remove dust from your models, check out my other article about removing dust from your models. Here is the link: How to remove dust from a diecast model

Step 3: Cleaning

Sponge-type swabs (similar to those used for makeup) are a helpful tool if your dust problem is modest and the dust is readily wiped clean.

Cotton swaps would also work, however, they will sometimes leave cotton strands left, so be aware of this while working around adhesive decals and sharp edges.

A plastic bristles toothpick works great for getting into hard-to-reach places. You should do as much dry-dusting as possible.

If dry dusting isn’t enough, use a damp swab, but only after all loose dust has been removed.

A cosmetics or other soft bristles brush is perfect for delicate paintwork and decals. If your diecast has caked-on dirt or came from a smoke-filled atmosphere.

If your grime problems are severe: Additional procedures are required if the quantity of caked-on dust and filth inside your diecast is too extreme to clean with damp swabs only, or if there are numerous small corners that you can’t reach.

The complexity of the diecast, as well as its worth, should be considered at this point. If it can be dismantled easily, it should be, as this is the most comprehensive cleaning approach. Leave this one alone if it’s too difficult to disassemble.

Car bath

Only take this step if absolutely required.

This procedure may not be recommended if you have a valuable vehicle with carpeted/upholstered surfaces or numerous fragile decals.

There is a way to flush your diecast with minimal risk of harm if done carefully. Pour about 2 cups of mild soap, such as Mothers California Gold or other “spotless” type car soaps, into a basin or sink of cold or semi-warm water (never hot).

Dishwashing liquid should never be used. Submerge the automobile for 30-45 seconds, then swab all surfaces with a swab while the interior is still wet…then rinse out the soap.

Drying

To avoid future water exposure, dry any decals (such as speedometers or license plates) as away.

Water can wreak havoc on decals, causing them to peel.

To fully dry the model, towel-dry it with a microfiber cloth, then use a hair drier on low heat, lay it over a furnace register, or blow it out with compressed air.

This is especially critical if the car has a metal-spring suspension, as water will corrode the springs over time.

If you have an airbrush, you can use the compressed air it produces to dry your model.

The “Finishing Touch” stage comes next.

Step 4: The finishing touch

If you want to add some shine to your plastic or rubber, use Meguiars Vinyl and Rubber Cleaner and Conditioner on a swab and go over all of the hard plastic and shiny rubber surfaces.

This product will remove any lingering grime safely and leave a natural luster.

If you get any on clear plastic, it will leave streaks, so don’t get any on your windows or paint. It’s not an issue if you do; simply rinse it off.

This is also a great time to use your preferred spray detailer or varnish on the diecast’s exterior design and clear windows.

Spray Detailer is a safe and effective product for outdoor painted and glossy surfaces, including windows.

My test vehicle was a filthy Ferrari 348 that I purchased when I purchased someone’s collection. It’s not valuable, but it’s worth cleaning.

For a variety of reasons, I chose the “Bath” method in my circumstance.

Because there was simply too much dirt to effectively clean any other manner (such as soot, probably from oil furnace fumes), there weren’t many decals or other easily damaged pieces, a car bath was a safe and simple alternative.

I’ve placed here the link to the Meguiars Vinyl and Rubber Cleaner so you choose the exact one I’ve used.

Conclusion

Cleaning your diecast metal is an essential part of being a collector.

Cleaning can be done as a DIY project or outsourced if you’d rather have a professional handle it so that you don’t break a sweat.

If you don’t keep your diecast in good shape, it will lose value daily.

Cleaning, drying, waxing, polishing, and storing or exhibiting it at a suitable temperature will all help to keep it looking new. The size and condition of your collections reveal a lot about you as an enthusiast.

Only the things I love.

So, here are the things I personally love when taking care of my Diecast Models.

Cleaning the Models

The first we are going to talk about is cleaning the models.

Removing Dust

  1. Air Brush – For me the is the best since it not just removes dust but you can use it in painting/clear coating.
  2. Air Duster – This is a good alternative to Airbrush
  3. Normal Brush – If you are short on budget, you can use a normal brush. However, make sure that the brush has soft bristles bacause there are some hard brush than can cause scratches. That’s why I recommended a good brush that can do the job properly.

Cleaning and Shining Hacks

Well, here are some of my cleaning hacks for removing scratches, oxidation, and so much more.

  1. Removing Decal Adhesive – Use Goo Gone on those hard to remove decal adhesives. It works fast and works like charm!
  2. Waxing and Polishing – Here is the something a lot of people don’t know. A wax protects the clear coat and paint while polishing shines the model. Instead of buying it separately, use a 2 in 1 to save money. Get this instead.
  3. Beginner Wax – The wax I recommended earlier is good and provides the best results based on my experience. But a beginner might have a problem especially if they’re not good at applying wax. Solid wax reaching hard to reach surface can he hard to remove. You have two choices here. One is to use a qtips to reach those surfaces, another is to use a liquid wax I recommended.
  4. Cleaning Wheels, Rubber, Plastic – Do not forget that rubber and plastic surface are quite different especially on the cleaning process. Just wiping it down won’t do the job. That’s why I use the Meguiar’s Vinyl and Rubber Cleaner and Conditioner. Works like charm!
  5. Make the Wheels Shine! – Making our models look good won’t be complete without tiny details such as shiny wheels! Do not forget this because however small this is, the difference can be as big as night and day.
  6. Remove Scratches Easily – Tiny scratches are not the end for your model. Here is a simple trick I’ve been using to make my models look scratch free even without repainting. Use T-Cut.

Painting the Models

Painting Tools

Make sure when you paint models, have these ready.

  1. Tape – A tape is important if you are painting a straight line. Furthermore, it will prevent you paint to scatter on other parts. I recommend Tamiya Tape since it is really made for models. Furthermore, they stick really well preventing paint splatters.
  2. Brush (Beginner) – Find a good set of brush to paint your models. Of course you can opt for an airbrush but it’s quite expensive.
  3. Airbrush (Intermediate/Expert) – This will yield a significantly better result than ordinary brush because you can easily spray the paint evenly. I recommend this if you know what you’re doing.
  4. Stand(Optional) – Stands are good because it can be hard to manually hold the models while painting. It is optional but in my opinion, the price is well worth it for the comfort it gives.
  5. Drop Cloths – Drop Cloths will protect your surroundings to the paint.
  6. Primer – The most common beginner mistake I see is painting models without any Primer. A primer will prevent imperfections such as bubbles or paint not sticking to your models. It is a small price to pay for quality results.
  7. Clear Coat – A clear coat will protect the paint of your models. This will make the paint last longer. Also, it is the one responsible for making your models shine.

Paints

Of course, you can’t do painting properly without paint. So here are the ones I recommend.

  1. Acrylic PaintGood for beginners because it dries quickly. However, it doesn’t produce results as good as enamel paint.
  2. Enamel PaintProvides good quality finish and longer lasting paint. However, it takes long to dry and requires expertise to use.

Model Maintenance

Model Storage

  1. Simple Wood Cabinet – While it doesn’t let you display your models, wooden cabinets are a good storage for these models. For one, they are not heat conductors which means that the temperature inside will remain constant and remail cool. Furthermore, they prevent light reaching the models which can cause oxidation.
  2. Clear Cabinet with Lock – If you want to display your models, then I recommend this. It closes so dusts won’t easily get to your models. I also recommend you to don’t put more than 1 model in each compartment since metals are good conductors of heat.

Model Photography

So you want to show off your models to others? Well, I got you covered.

Here is my beginner-friendly model photography tutorial that teaches everything from taking pictures to the editing process.

You will also see me doing hands-on photography on that tutorial.

Here is the link: How to Take Pictures of a Diecast Model or Model Kit | Helpful Illustrated and Video Guide

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