Best way to clean an ink disk?

I just got a 10x15 C&P New style, and it’s time to spiff her up to get read to print. I won’t be doing much cleaning or scrubbing, she’s pretty much rust-free, but the ink disk is a little dingy because it’s been sitting for a few years without being used. What is the best thing to use to clean the ink disk before I ink it? I’ve used Crisco to clean ink before (which is hilariously the best thing I’ve experienced to remove ink) and also rubbing alcohol to get off the stubborn stuff. I’m not sure if I should use a soap solution or maybe rubbing alcohol to get it clean? Any and all suggestions are welcome.

Log in to reply   7 replies so far

Go to your local paper supplier, most carry Cleaning solutions. Google some ink manufactures and choose your state local. They offer chemicals for cleaning and ink additives.
I wouldn’t recommend the ones that water can be mixed with. You don’t need the benefit, it would only have to offset printing. Buy a good shop paper towel for cleaning. Don’t use kitchen towels they will add lint.

STOP using household remedies, they can add problems that you don’t want.

The regular solutions will keep your rollers in good condition and your disk very receptive to ink.

Thanks Theo, I’ll check with a paper company in Seattle and see if they have any options for this round of cleaning. As for the household solutions; the printer I learned under for the last few years has been printing for 25 years, and while I will admit that not everyone can know everything perfectly, I’m going to continue to use those solutions because A) They work well, and B) That’s how I learned.

Compressed Air Driven or Electric ORBITAL Polishing/Sanding device(s)
Both infinately variable speed, with flexible rubber backing disc covered with laced on Lambswool bonnet & copious amounts of progressively finer Rubbing compound, Look up *Farecla* on the Web, maybe.

ORBITAL DEVICES Produce an amazing flat finish, as opposed to pure hand work which invariably, (by default) tend to follow unwanted contours, if their are such in evidence.

I would not suggest a sander, which can remove metal as well as dirt, or a cleaning solution. Unless the disc has caked-on dried ink, I recommend medium-fine steel wool and elbow grease. You can apply the steel wool dry or with kerosene, which will help remove the junk as it comes loose and will not affect the iron of the disc, except to leave a protective coating when it dries. The disc does not need to look like it’s chrome-plated, merely like it’s flat, clean, and smooth, which the steel wool will achieve without a lot of elbow grease.


With respect ORBITAL DEVICE was picked out in Caps for the very action it produces. I.E. works on the high spots in perfectly uniform manner until it reaches the L.C.D. (lowest common denominator) — The original Flat Machined base.

Freehand usually (by default) tends to follow in haphazard manner, high`s and low`s equally, Flat eventually yes.!

Mirror finish is not a prerequisite, of course, but maximum possible ink transfer, from flat/uniform surface must be desirable.

I’ve used a palm sander with maroon Scotchbrite pads for derusting flat surfaces. As long as you aren’t just sitting in one position, the pad will take up the rust and leave the base metal alone. Wetting the surface with light oil or mineral spirits while you do so will improve the surface finish and keep the pad from clogging so much. NOTE: This is not the greatest thing for your sander—so don’t use a nicer machine (or the one from your spouse’s wood shop) to do this.

In defence of Mick — he was suggesting an orbital sander with rubbing compound, not sand paper, which seems like a pretty reasonable idea.

For my ink disk cleaning, I disengaged the advancing mechanism so that the disk could freewheel, gave the pivot a good shot of oil, then I used a rubber wheel (the inside of a small sanding drum, actually) in an electric drill, applied to the periphery of the disk to rotate it. While it spun around I touched a scotch-brite pad to the surface (wet with a bit of oil), and worked it back and forth until it was clean. The nice part of this this technique is that all of the scratches were concentric with the disc, so it didn’t looked ‘scrubbed’ after the fact. It took all of maybe 5 minutes to have it looking good as new.