Cleaning Bakelite Canisters to Remove Stains

Cleaning Bakelite Canisters to Remove Stains with creamy cleanser works to get those lovely old canisters out of the cupboard and on show again.

I have been fortunate enough to find some lovely old Bakelite canisters on my bargain hunting excursions and I admit that I have resold some of them for a profit.

The profit was not made because the person selling it did not know that it was an old canister… the profit was made because the person selling it thought that it was stained and could not be cleaned up… WRONG.

I am not an expert in cleaning Bakelite but I do know how to get it clean… and I will share my method.

On-line I have read that you can use car polish… but that it can take several applications… but it was not clear if the polish would take off really bad discoloration/stains…  and some sites tell you not to use a scourer…

Cleaning Bakelite Canisters:

I did not have any car polish to hand and I had almost nothing to lose… so I used good old ‘creamy cleanser‘ with a cheap green ‘kitchen scourer‘ and a little elbow grease and off came all those ‘stains’.  I then polished the canister with a little vegetable oil and paper towel to give a little sheen.

The results speak for themselves.  All the canisters below started out with lots of surface marks/stains and were cleaned up by me.

If you are interested in Vintage Australian Plastics read my article entitled Bakelite Canisters and Bessemer Plates.

For the story of Bakelite try found at

Cleaning Bakelite Canisters

EON Canisters Set – for sale

Cleaning Bakelite Canisters

EON Canister Yellow – sold

Cleaning Bakelite Canisters

EON Canisters Pastel – sold

Happy bargain hunting and collecting


  1. Barb T

    Hi Cheryl.
    Thanks for your info re cleaning Bakelite products. I bought 2 Duperite creamy yellow canisters yesterday in a very ordinary state and followed your advice to clean them. They look great now. Only thing I did differently was I squirted a small amount of cream cleaner on an old soft toothbrush, put a bit of water on it and applied it over the surface. The brush was really good at getting into the concentric ridges around the base, the little contents label, and the pointed star handle on the lid. Used olive oil to polish up. Also found nail polish with acetone didn’t affect the surface when I used it to remove what was left of an ugly decal decoration on one canister.I have some xylonite items where the vendor has used adhesive price labels and either the surrounding surface has faded or the glue on the label has discoloured the xylonite underneath. Any advice on how to clean them?
    Thanks, Barb T.

    • Cheryl

      Hello Barb, great to here that you did a successful clean. I have only cleaned a few items myself so do not have many more hints. I have heard that car polish is good for restoring a shine on bakelite and similar plastics. I do not recommend citrus for removing stickers from old plastic as this caused fogging on a clear lid that I cleaned, ruining it. regards Cheryl

  2. Melissa

    Does anyone know how to remove glue or a stuck on lid from Bakelite? I have a Bakelite box/container & the lid won’t come off. I thinking maybe someone glued it. I don’t know what else would cause the lid to get stuck & I can’t lift it off.

    • Cheryl

      Hello Melissa, I haven’t had a stuck on lid before, but I do have a couple of Bakelite containers with screw on lids. Just though I would mention it in case you have not tried turning the lid (to unscrew it). regards

  3. This is a very informative blog, thanks for sharing about cleaning bakelite canisters look like new. It will help a lot; these types of content should get appreciated. I will bookmark your site; I hope to read more such informative contents in future.

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