GENERAL PEZ DISPENSER CLEANING AND REPAIR
The purpose of this page is to acquaint you with the general tools and processes on how to clean PEZ dispensers and general dispenser repair. Please keep in mind that the information here is from my past experiences, and should not be considered to be the final word on how to clean and repair dispensers.
As always, everything listed below should be performed at your risk.
The PEZheads Toolbox
This is a list of the tools that I use to clean and repair dispensers.
Disassembling and Cleaning PEZ
The first thing I do when cleaning a dispenser is to use the toothbrush and/or toothpicks and/or Q-Tips with the dishwashing soap to give the dispenser a good general cleaning. The soft washcloth is also very useful.
The next thing I do (on 3.9 and older) is to take the dispenser apart! I know this sounds a little extreme, but I have found it to be the best way to thoroughly clean a dispenser. Basically, a dispenser is made up of five main parts... the head, inner sleeve, inner sleeve spring, stem, and candy button. The key to disassmbling a PEZ dispenser is to remove the candy button. Once the candy button is out, the head/inner sleeve assembly will easily slide out of the stem, and the inner sleeve spring will usually *pop* out... and spring across the room! To remove the candy button, you should use a small standard screwdriver or similar tool, with the end of the blade covered with a piece of electrical or masking tape. The purpose of the tape is to protect the candy button from possible scratches or scrapes from the screwdriver blade. (Note: other tools that can be used to remove the candy button are: swizzle sticks, pencils, dental tools, ink pens, etc... just make sure that you cover the tip of whatever you are using with tape.)
To remove the candy button, follow these steps:
Please remember that this technique is a very basic and simple description on how to disassemble a dispenser. It will not work in every situation. There are variables, such as the "Dreaded Hook" style candy button... condition and fit of the inner sleeve... condition of the stem, that can make the disassembly process either difficult or tricky... or impossible. My suggestion is to first practice this technique on a dispenser that you can easily replace. Your success may vary.
Once the dispenser is in pieces, I fill one of my small bowls with Windex and put the pieces (except the inner sleeve spring) in to soak. Windex does a great job of removing oils and gunk from dispensers. Another advantage is that it will air dry quickly and not rust any of the steel springs or hinge pins. Generally, I let the dispenser pieces soak overnight.
After a good soaking, I pick up the toothbrush and Q-Tips again and re-clean all of the surfaces. Toothpicks are handy to help remove goop that collects in small places. When all of the pieces are cleaned to my satisfaction, I set them out on a paper towel to air dry.
Please note, we do not recommend soaking any older PEZ with painted features in Windex for more than a couple of minutes. In the case of old painted heads, use very gentle rubbing strokes with a Q-tip to make sure you don't chip off any of the old paint.
If you are a little scared to take your prized treasure apart, you can still follow this same cleaning process. However, it may take some extra work getting into all of the little nooks and crannies. Also, if you don’t take the dispenser apart, you will not be able to get the area inside of the inner sleeve (under the candy button) cleaned out. You should also allow a little longer drying time after the dispenser is cleaned up.
To remove light stains on a dispenser, use toothpaste and some elbow grease to "buff" out the stain. After you are satisfied with the results, thoroughly clean any toothpaste residue off of the dispenser. This step should be done before you soak the dispenser in Windex.
After the dispenser is thoroughly cleaned, I inspect it for scratches or melt marks. If there aren’t any, I reassemble the dispenser and place it in my collection. If there are scratches or melt marks, I take care of these issues before I reassemble the dispenser.
General PEZ Repair
Missing or Damaged Parts –
I don’t want to spend much time here on this topic, but I would like to offer the following advice…
Always replace damaged parts with the EXACT same part!
I know this sounds obvious. But you should keep in mind that even though a candy button (or whatever) may have come off of a same patent series dispenser, there is a good chance that it may not be an exact replacement. This will cause some problems when it comes to the "fit" of the dispenser pieces. Your best bet is to ask someone who is knowledgeable with that particular dispenser about what other dispensers have the exact same part. The best case scenario is to use parts from the same dispenser and patent number. With a little time and work, I have found that a "trashed" dispenser will show up on eBay that will have the part that you need.
Light Scratches –
Light scratches can usually be removed by using some elbow grease and car polishing compound. Fill one of your small bowls with water. Then take a 2" square piece of cheesecloth and wet it in the water. Next, put a small amount of polishing compound on the cheesecloth and buff the area of the scratch. It will take some time before the scratch is removed. The bigger or deeper the scratch, the longer to buff it out. Be patient. This will work and the results will be worth it.
Melt Marks –
With time and patience, most melt marks on the dispenser heads can be removed or at least reduced enough that they are no longer noticeable. However, please note that melt marks on stems are very hard to remove, if possible at all.
Melt marks occur when certain types of plastic or rubber compounds come in contact with the plastic on the dispenser and starts to fuse or "melt" the plastic. In reality, a melt mark is a "swelling" of the plastic more than it is an actual melt. This fact is what allows us the capability to remove the "melt".
Depending upon on how bad the melt mark is, you first take your X-Acto knife and carefully remove the "bulk" of the melt. On minor melt marks, this is usually not needed.
Now comes the fun part. J Use the back (not sharp side) of your X-Acto knife or your steel flexible rule, and very carefully scrape it across the melt. The motion will resemble a whittling action. The key here is to go slow and light with your scraping. You will want to remove the melted plastic in very small amounts. The removed plastic should appear as dust on your work surface. You will scrape across the melt, trying to match the correct contour of the piece. This will take some time, so again be very patient. The results will be worth it.
After you have removed the melt, you will then use your wet/dry sandpaper to finish smoothing out the melt. Make sure you use a very fine grit sandpaper. If you use sandpaper that is sold as plastic modeling sandpaper, you shouldn’t have any problems. First, wet your sandpaper. Then sand over the area you scraped in a circular motion. Remember to re-wet and clean your sandpaper often. After awhile, any tiny scratches that were left after the scraping process will disappear. When you are satisfied with the result, then the final buffing can be started.
What you should see at this point is that the melt is gone, and the plastic is back to its original contour, and all of the scraping scratches are gone. Now, it is time for the final piece of work. Get out your clean cheesecloth and car polishing compound, and buff out the worked area. The polishing compound will restore the shiny luster to the plastic.