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Rustyohus' Guide to Cleaning Pots and Switches
#1 Posted : 2/1/2008 1:12:57 PM

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I felt like writing a quick tech tip on cleaning pots and switches. Another member just found a really nice Ibanez at a garage sale for only $10.00 and that spurred my enthusiasm to write this up. So here we go.
To start off, we need to make sure we are using the correct products. Many folks believe WD-40 or general purpose contact cleaner is all you need. This is not so, In fact some of the “general purpose” contact cleaners can actually destroy an otherwise functional pot that only needed to be cleaned. I use Caig products myself, as do most other techs whether they work on guitars, audio equipment, computers or what ever. The solutions we will discus come in two or three forms:
The 5% spray solutions, DeoxIT, Pro-Gold and FaderLube.

The 100% bottled solutions, DeoxIT and Pro-Gold.

The 100% tube applicator, CaiLube MCL/FaderLube.

All these products are also available in a kit that includes everything you would need in enough quantity to do a few guitars.

The Caig products you would want to use to clean pots would be DeoxIT 5% spray, FaderLube 5% spray and FaderLube in the 100% tube applicator. Please note that FaderLube used to be called CaiLube MCL, which stands for Moving Control Lubricant.
It would be best to remove the pots from the guitar but it is not necessary. I like to take them out and mount them on a cardboard box like this.

If you choose to keep the pots inside the guitar, make sure to keep a roll of paper towels handy.
Shake the spray can of DeoxIT 5% thoroughly at first and in between bursts. Shoot two burst into the pot and work the control back and forth about a dozen times then allow it to dry. Repeat for each pot you are cleaning. I generally do this three times for each pot I am cleaning waiting for the solution to dry each time.
After cleaning the pot with the DeoxIT 5% spray, you need to wash out the DeoxIT and replenish the lubricant that washed out with the grime. To do that you use FaderLube (Formerly known as CaiLube MCL) in the 5% spray can. Just as with the DeoxIT 5% spray, you want to shake the FaderLube 5% spray can thoroughly at first and between bursts. Shoot two bursts into the pot and again work the control back and forth about a dozen times and allow it to dry. I generally do this at least three times for each pot to ensure I have all the gunk and gunk cleaner out of there. You will begin to feel the operation of the control getting smoother with each round.
The final step is to squeeze some FaderLube 100% solution from the tube applicator into the pot and work the control back and forth about a dozen times. If you have removed the pot to clean it, re-install the pot before squeezing the 100% FaderLube in there. The heat from soldering the pot back into the guitar can gunk up the FaderLube. The pots should now work like brand new. If they don’t, you need new pots.
The Caig products you would use to clean a switch are DeoxIT in a 100% bottled solution, DeoxIT in the 5% spray can, Pro Gold in a 100% bottled solution and Pro Gold in a 5% spray can.
To clean a switch, again I prefer to remove it from the guitar but again this is not necessary. Some switches are open frame and others are enclosed. If it is an open frame switch, it is pretty easy to clean. If is an enclosed switch, you may need to disassemble the switch to get it clean. I have pictured an enclosed toggle switch disassembled for cleaning and I have inserted a couple of toothpicks to spread the contacts apart so the DeoxIT 100% solution can get where it needs to go.

The 100% solution of both DeoxIT and Pro-Gold come in a bottle that looks like nail polish and you use it the same way. Just brush the 100% solution of DeoxIT onto the contacts and give it a few minutes to do its job. You will actually see, the contacts start to shine.
Wash the 100% solution away with the DeoxIT 5% spray can. Give that some time to dry then apply the 100% Pro-Gold solution. Wait a few minutes then wash away the 100% Pro-Gold solution with the 5% Pro-Gold spay.
Dab off the excess with a Q-tip and wait for the switch to dry. Once it is dry, re-assemble the switch and put it back into the guitar. It should now work like a new switch. If it doesn’t, you need a new switch.
1 user thanked LordGrendel for this useful post.
littlejon on 2/14/2012(UTC)
#3 Posted : 4/29/2008 2:19:13 AM

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SWEET!!!! I have been looking for an expensive replacement for the $0.39 blue end of an eraser that I have been using for the past 15 years. Thank you!!
#4 Posted : 4/21/2009 6:19:36 PM

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Rooster101 wrote:
SWEET!!!! I have been looking for an expensive replacement for the $0.39 blue end of an eraser that I have been using for the past 15 years. Thank you!!

Same thing i use...sounds like a sales pitch too me.
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#5 Posted : 4/11/2012 11:04:47 PM

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How can I know if a random contact cleaner is good for cleaning electronics? Besides what it does or doesn't to the switch/pots, are there any specific ingredients I can know right away will damage the pickguard or finish?

(And... "blue end of an eraser"?)
Tracy Dae
#6 Posted : 4/12/2012 2:41:00 AM
Tracy Dae

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Originally Posted by: xiLL Go to Quoted Post
How can I know if a random contact cleaner is good for cleaning electronics?

Wow this is an old post - and it has been thoroughly dorked up during several forum upgrades.

Anyways, the products discussed here are not random products. These are specifically formulated to clean electronics, specificly pots and switches. Caig products are what the pro's use. You can find information on Caig products at Caig's website. The pic is a link.

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#7 Posted : 4/12/2012 3:55:31 AM

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I am specifically asking about "random" products. The various DeoxIT products aren't available in my country.

#10 Posted : 11/25/2013 1:24:06 AM

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#11 Posted : 1/4/2016 11:17:47 PM
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