Cleaning Vintage Staplers


  • Fine steel wool pads 000 grade. – You can cut them down to suit yourself.
  • Old Towel – This protects the stapler and the surface you are working on.
  • Old recyled  tshirts or other soft cloths (for cleaning and polishing)
  • Brass/ chrome cleaner
  • Mild detergent without bleach or lemon
  • Dishcloth or old worn wash cloth
  • Soft toothbrushes
  • Small Screw driver -  (sometimes a Phillips head is required)
  • Containers or plastic baggies to keep screws and bolts and other small parts in
  • Camera (To document stapler in different stages of dissembling)
  • Aluminum Foil – to protect painted areas while your cleaning the chrome.
  • Lubricating Oil -  I use gun oil since it lubricates and prevents rust but 401 will also work
  • Spray paint & touch up paint -  Only in the most serious condition.

Assess the need for cleaning. (You now have laid down you towel to protect the surfaces) Easiest would be those that need a damp cloth with mild detergent. Wipe and dry. Rusty ones need some steel wool help to be use sparingly and gently. For metal unplated parts more elbow grease can be used. If it is really gooky you might have to resort to 409 Cleaner but be sure to avoid getting any on painted surfaces. This is where a toothbrush comes in handy. Remember a SOFT bristle one. It gets in the crevices.

Taking apart a stapler. After examining you can pretty much deduct whether the stapler can be dissambled or not. For thorough cleaning it usually helps to do so. Sometimes you have to do this just to get the old ones unjammed. I take a picture before I start and then as during progression so to be able to reassemble without being frustrated. Keep small baggies or separate dishes for parts to keep from losing pieces.

Brasso or Chrome Cleaner. Before you begin make sure what metal you’re cleaning. Sometimes it is actual metallic paint so no Brasso. If there is painted next to the metal part I cover the painted area with foil. I Don’t use masking tape on painted surfaces as that can take off paint. Use a soft rag with the polish on it and start cleaning. Use a clean rag than to polish it. I use a plastic ended small screwdriver I got free somewhere to get in the crevices ( around rivets and pins etc.) without scratching the surface.

Painted surfaces: Touch-Up. Black textured matte which was used during WWII on many of the staplers can be touched up using Testors Model Master and a very small brush to touch up. It does a good job. Other colors and flat surfaces are trickier but I have used Testors as well. Repaint. In a few cases where 50% or more of the paint is gone I have repainted. Do not repaint no matter what condition on RARE or VERY OLD staplers.  The best solution is to strip the painted area. I use Rustoleum spray to repaint only because I know it will last and adhere to the metal. Allow a full 48 hours before reassembling.

Oiling: A drop or two will do it. I put some in the spring/ plunger area and then work it some. I’ll also oil the back axel area if needed. Clean any oil off stapler.

Photograph again for your before and after!

3 thoughts on “Cleaning Vintage Staplers

  1. Pingback: BLOGAHOMA » Blog Archive » How to Clean a Stapler

  2. A customer recently asked whether the home cleaners can take care of some vintage staplers. The tough part is taking the thing apart. As at Go Cleaners we hardly refuse anything a customer wants, it was quite a challenge. Fortunately, I found this post and I am now going to share it with the cleaners. Excellent work on this post!

    Best regards,
    Barry McDonald
    Go Cleaners London

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