Kaleidoscope Care

General Care

Caring for your kaleidoscopes will extend their life and preserve their value.

Scopes are best stored in display cases to reduce dirt and dust, prevent accidentally damage to them from being bumped or knocked over and to keep them out of direct light.  Direct light is fatal to some scopes as it fades woods, dried flowers in wheels and fabrics.  Sunlight will turn some plastics yellow and even some fluid ampules are not light-fast.

Excessive extremes in humidity can also cause damage to scopes. It can make wood swell or dry out and crack, mirrors and object cells fog and even dry up the glue or tape that holds mirrors together inside the scope.

Scopes should also be kept clean and polished.  Metals tarnish, glass gets dusty, Acrylic dims and wood loses its luster.  Here is how to keep the following scope materials clean and shinny.

Glass Eyepieces

Clean the dust from the glass viewing lens of scopes with any household glass cleaners such as Glass Plus (www.glassplus.com) or Windex (www.windex.com).  To keep these clean, never spray directly with glass cleaner, but apply the cleaner to it with a Q-tip or soft cloth dampened with glass cleaner. Follow the same procedure for any other glass parts of a kaleidoscope. Spraying cleaner directly on the scope is risking moisture damage which may fog the mirrors or do other damage.

Glass or Mirrored Exteriors

Glass and mirror exteriors of scopes can be cleaned with most household glass cleaners. Be sure to check the labels to insure it is safe for any materials on the scope that you may apply it to.  Windex Original Glass Cleaner and Glass Plus Glass and Multi Surface Cleaner product links are available below.   

Follow the same procedure of spaying the cleaner on to a soft cloth. Spraying cleaner directly on the scope is risking moisture damage which may fog the mirrors or do other damage.

Solder

The solder that holds stained glass scopes together can be cleaned by using 0000 steel wool to remove the oxidation and then by using a stained glass finishing compound to polish it.

Non-Lacquered Metal

Non-lacquered metal can be kept bright with Nevr-Dull Magic Wadding Polish (http://www.nevrdull.com/). It's a waterless metal polish that comes with solvent-impregnated fiber wadding. You tear off a piece the size of a cotton ball and rub a tarnished scope until the oxidation is gone. Buff with a soft cloth for a brilliant luster.

Nevr-Dull Magic Wadding Polish for Cleaning & Polishing All Metals 

Another easier to use product is the “Miracle All Purpose Polishing Cloth” (http://www.miraclecloth.com/).  Simply rub this cloth until desired polish is obtained.  The Miracle Cloth cleans, polishes and waxes, it even removes bad corrosion from metals.

Clean Everything Faster with 2 Miracle Polishing Cloths - Free Shipping

Both work on non-lacquered silver, gold, brass, copper, pewter, steel, aluminum, chrome and others.

Some collectors enjoy the natural patina of aging metals and let them be, especially vintage or antique pieces. Like many antiques, cleaning them in a way that removes the patina of age may actually diminish the value.

Lacquered Wood

Lacquered or varnished, wood is fully sealed and needs only an occasional wipe with multi surface cleaner such as Pledge (www.pledge.com) to rid it of dust.  Again, never spray the scope directly. Always apply cleaners with a soft cloth.

Unfinished Wood

Natural (un-lacquered) wood needs additional care to prevent it from becoming dry and brittle.  Apply any furniture polish, such as Old English (www.oldenglishpolish.com) to a soft cloth and then use the cloth to polish the scope.

Acrylic or Lucite

Acrylic, Lucite, Lexan and relatives must be kept well away from glass and window cleaners. These contain alcohol or ammonia and may cloud or yellow the Lucite. Instead, use Novus Plastic Polish (www.novuspolish.com), available from lamp shops and plastic fabricators. Non-oily, non-toxic Novus leaves a finish that resists fingerprints, fog, dust and static. Apply with a clean, soft, grit-free, all-cotton cloth. For restoring surfaces that show signs of wear, haziness, fine scratches or discoloration, try Novus 2 or 3.

Novus products are:

  • Novus Plastic Clean & Shine (Novus 1)

<em>Novus</em> #<em>1</em> Acrylic Polish, 64 oz

  • Novus Fine Scratch Remover (Novus 2)

 <em>Novus</em> #<em>2</em> Polish, Pkg of 8 oz

  • Novus Heavy Scratch Remover (Novus 3)

<em>Novus</em> #<em>3</em> Polish / 8 oz.

Leather

Leather kaleidoscopes benefit from using a leather conditioner periodically to keep the leather from drying out.

Fabric

Fabric scope exteriors only require periodic dusting.  Used fabric softener dryer sheets make the best cloths for dusting fabric scopes.

Alabaster

Alabaster is a low-maintenance material. Don’t use water to clean it. Just keep it dusted with a soft, dry cloth.

Ceramic and Marble

Ceramic and marble scopes only require dusting with a soft, dry cloth. They should keep their luster for many years or even decades however a multi surface cleaner, such as Pledge (www.pledge.com), can be used occasionally to add a shine.