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How to remove nicotine staining from audio equipment

A lot of vintage audio equipment has a brown residue on it from years of being in a smoker’s home. The once shiny brushed-aluminium faceplate of that 70’s receiver may over the years have turned into a dull brownish-grey colour. It stands out like a sore thumb, but with a little elbow grease, and our “magic” cleaning method, you’ll wipe that residue right off.

The cleaning method discussed here can be used on wood, plastic and metals, without damaging the surface or damaging the lettering. It will likely work other things than audio equipment, but hey, that’s we’re going to use it for.

We’ve tried and tested various cleaning methods recommended elsewhere on the internet with varying results. Isopropyl alcohol, dish soap, baking soda, vinegar, you name it. But none of them performed as good as our next contender: Biotex.

Biotex powder is an enzyme-based stain remover for clothes, but it also works its magic on these tobacco stains. Unlike the other products we’ve tested, with Biotex you literally just wipe the gross stuff right off, without damaging anything.

What you’ll need

 

Let’s get started!

  1. Moisten a microfiber towel with lukewarm water
  2. Rub some of the Biotex powder into the towel, or sprinkle some on the surface. Try it in a inconspicuous area first.
  3. Gently clean the surface in a straight motion, let the towel and the Biotex do the work. You will notice the residue will wipe right off without applying too much force.
  4. Once you’re happy with the result, clean the surface with a fresh microfiber towel moistened with lukewarm water.
  5. Let the surface dry and apply a coat of wax.

 

Tips

  • Do not get wooden surfaces too wet, it may cause swelling of the wood
  • Move with the grain of brushed aluminum surfaces, not against it, or you will cause noticeable scratches.

 

Results

If done right, you should be seeing results like ours:

If you have any questions, or have your own great technique to get similar results, let the world know by sharing it in the comments below.