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How to Clean a Pinball Machine

One of the questions we get pretty often is about how to clean a pinball machine. Cleaning your pinball isn’t a big deal. Really cleaning your pinball machine should be performed every couple months. This will help prolong the life and luster of your pinball.


If you have gotten yourself a brand new pinball machine, cleaning will be much simpler. For the most part, using a soft bristle brush on a small shop vacuum will be enough. You should be sure to get all the corners and not to leave any dust. A crevice tool can be a huge help here too.


Once you’ve gotten the majority of dust out, it’s time to really start cleaning. If your pinball machine isn’t very dirty, a product like windex is usually good enough. Spray some cleaner on a cloth and start wiping everything you can reach. Remember not to spray the cleaner on your machine; always spray on the towel.


Continue this maintenance every month or two and you will hardly have to worry about much on your pinball machine.


How to Maintain a Pinball Machine

While new pinball machines are awesome, some people prefer to collect old machines. Some people like the nostalgia, others like the price tag. Old pinballs may have seen some use, but they can shine up very nicely. There are important things to consider when thinking about how to maintain a pinball machine.


Again, the first thing to do is give your pinball a nice cleaning. Spray some cleaner on your rag and give the pinball a nice once over. If you’ve got a really dirty pinball machine, we recommend removing all plastics and rubbers from your machine as well. And as a word of caution, If you’ve got planking, a water based cleaner should be avoided. It can make the wood swell and crack.


For dirty plastics, a product like ZEP heavy duty degreaser does wonders. It cleans up old pinball plastics without a problem. Use the degreaser to clean your pinball plastics, then use plain water to remove the degreaser. For any pinball plastics you don’t want to put in the sink, Novus is a great product to help polish plastics and your playfield.

*CAUTION* ZEP is a great product, but do not use it on any silk screened or otherwise printed on sections. It is a strong solvent and can take paint or other designs off. Remember, when in doubt, always test an inconspicuous area first!


For most pinball playfields, Novus 2 is the product we recommend people use. Using Novus is the best thing for a pinball. It helps polish the top coat. It also removes ball marks and small scuffs.


Novus 2 is the only product we recommend to people who do not want to worry about damaging their pinball. There are other methods to remove deeper scratches or cracks in your pinball machine topcoat. These methods are much more advanced and risk ruining the finish if you’re not careful. We will not discuss those methods here because of that reason.

Cleaning your Pinball with the Right Products


Once you’ve got your pinball plastics off the playfield, you can start cleaning with Novus 2. Be careful not to use the other Novus products. One is too abrasive for use on the playfield, and the other is not abrasive enough.


Here, you’ll be putting Novus on a clean towel or rag. Just wipe down the pinball machine playfield with Novus on a towel. Go little by little. Start at one end and work your way to the other end. We usually start at near the ball trough. This way you can focus on the ball lanes and make sure you get out as much dirt as you can.


Really work the Novus into the playfield. You’ll know you’re done if your cloth comes back without dirt. Once your pinball is nice and clean, it’s time to start reassembling it.


Put your plastics back in place. Since you have the plastics off anyway, it’s a great time to replace the pinball rubbers. We recommend replacing all the rubbers on your pinball machine. There’s no sense cutting corners at this point.


At this point, it’s a great idea to check all your light bulbs. Make sure all bulbs are working since this is the easiest time to replace them. If you have LED bulbs in your pinball machine, you most likely won’t have to replace anything. If not, this is a great time to upgrade your pinball lighting.

Reassemble your Pinball

With plastics back in place you can start screwing everything down. Just remember to be gentle. Your pinball machine is meant to last a lifetime. That doesn’t mean you have to strip bolts or crack plastics by over tightening things! Treat your pinball gently and it will play for years or decades.

Contact Great American Pinball

If you have any questions about how to clean or maintain your pinball, feel free to contact us today! We are always willing to help customers with any of their pinball needs.

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