A tip on cleaning really gunky typebars on an old typewriter.

So yeah, I purchased a typewriter from a gentleman on Craigslist a few nights ago. It’s a Royal HHE, c. 1956, and it works quite well.

However, some of the typebars had so much gunk that the output looked just horrible:

Even cleaning even with the firmest bristle toothbrush you can buy at Walgreens doesn't help. One trick that has worked out quite well for me thus far is to clip the bristles on a toothbrush so that they're about 2–3 mm long. If you have an old cheapo electric toothbrush lying around (like a Crest SpinBrush), even better.

As you can see below, it’s resulted in quite the improvement:

There is still a little work to be done, particularly on the uppercase M and V. But what a difference a toothbrush can make!


  1. Use a moist cleaning cloth to clean the surface of those ink keys. You can also use a wet brush to scrape them off.

  2. Hi - did you use any kind of a soap or detergent or whatever on the toothbrush? I have heard quite a few examples of how this can be done, but everyone seems to have a different way of cleaning them lol.

  3. Kristi, I used WD-40, nothing special really. Just spray some on the typebars, maybe let it sit for a few minutes to work its way in, then use the toothbrush.

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  5. What if the typewriter is too old? Like those items being restored at the TV show "Kings of Restoration"?

    Keith Harris

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  7. Hi did you use any kind of a soap or detergent or whatever on the toothbrush?
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