View Full Version : OT: Need help dissolving grout? mortar? from plastic tool handles

04-03-2011, 03:31 PM
Yesterday while visiting a local farm auction, several of the current offering of Milwaukee power tools followed me home at the usual dirt cheap price. Unfortunately, some previous owner had gotten spatters of what appears to be grout, mortar, or some variety of gritty clay all over the pretty red plastic. Ive managed to chip some of it off but it comes off in small slabs like concrete, not too soft, and there is quite a bit to go. While I understand tools are meant to be used, I like to keep mine as clean as possible, and would like to remove as much of this as possible. Is there anything that might dissolve/loosen this stuff without hurting the plastic if soaked in it? Are there any common types of cleaners to avoid?

Thanks in advance.

Bob Ford
04-03-2011, 03:43 PM
Hydrochloric acid will not hurt plastic, but will attach any of the screws or nuts left in the handles. This is the stuff used to clean concrete.


Forrest Addy
04-03-2011, 04:42 PM
Hydrochloric acid works great on concrete but it's hell on any metal nearby and if used in a closed shop the fumes go everywhere causing persistant and infuriating rust problems.

Most any acid will work to attack cement based materials. I strongly suggest phosphoric acid found in most any metal prep solution or simpler yet; vinegar.

Naturally vinegar will taker longer but it's cheap, handy, and gentle on metals.

04-03-2011, 04:54 PM
It can't do any harm to take the covers off and see if there's anything nasty inside. You never know with farmers ! Then you can dunk the covers and handles in whatever you like.

04-03-2011, 05:14 PM
Hammer and chisel.

In my experience, I'd avoid strong acids, they can permeate many plastics and linger. You may not notice until later when metal components corrode prematurely.

Just soaking the plastic parts in hot water might loosen alot of the cementious gunk, if it's not too much work taking the tools apart.


04-03-2011, 08:48 PM
Thanks for the replies from everyone. I find taking apart and cleaning tools, even newish ones, to be a very fulfilling hobby. Ive already tried a hot water bath and it loosened some of the grout/cement/whatever, so Ill start with vinegar and start moving my way up in strength.

Thanks again.