How to Clean Polymer Clay Extruder

Posted by
Vin Lout
Updated by
Steve Laurence
Last updated:
November 1, 2019

Here are main steps to clean your extruder:

  • 1. Unscrew end cap to clean out left over clay.
  • 2. Unscrew the other end cap and pull out plunger.
  • 3. Scrape off clay stuck to rubber ring on plunger.
  • 4. Wipe off plunger end and barrel with baby wipe or rubbing alcohol.

Two different brands of polymer clay extruders here. I’ve got the Makin’s Professional Clay Extruder, and then I’ve also got the Walnut Hollow Extruder. They’re very similar designs, but they’re a little bit different. Well, they’re about the same, when you clean them. I’m just going to show you how they look, when you take them apart.

Both of these are dirty; they still have clay in them and things. The ends screw off like that, and here I’ve even got the little die sticking at the end here, pop that off. Then there’s usually some clay sticking at the end here. There’s a little bit of a space left between the plunger and the die, so there’s always a little bit of wasted clay here. You can scrape that off, put it in your scrap pile. Then you can use something like a little toothpick or something and scrape around the edges. That’s generally all you’re really going to need to do.

But, I will show you how to take it apart, if you need some further cleaning. You can just wipe it off.

Right along this edge is a little rubber washer. What this does is it scrapes. It’s a little rubber ring, and it’s right around the outside edge. This pushes down the center of the barrel and actually keeps the barrel very clean. It’s pretty much a self-cleaning, the way this ring runs down, so the barrel itself doesn’t need much cleaning. But, it’s all this other stuff that does.

You can scrape off the clay, and if you ever break that ring, both of these machines put an extra one in there. I think there’s one extra in the Makin’s and two or three extra in the other one, in the Walnut Hollow. You can just clean that all off. If you need rubbing alcohol or anything like that, you can use that or a baby wipe and just keep cleaning at it.

But, if it’s getting dried out or anything, what you can do is you can also put a little bit of petroleum jelly. You can rub a little bit on, after you’ve cleaned it all, you can rub it on, and it’ll help it slide through the barrel nicely, and then you can screw it all back together.

My anothe extdurer is a little newer, so I haven’t had a chance to get it that dirty, but it’s works the same sort of way. You unscrew the ends. This one I found tends to get a lot more stuck in the lid, maybe it’s just a little looser. But, both of these, if you get any clay stuck in these areas here, you can just use a toothpick or something like that and just kind of scrape out all the little threads and right in the base. There’s quite a bit of gunk, polymer clay, that sneaks in around the corners of the dies and that kind of stuff. You can scrape that all out, wipe it down if you need to.

The same thing goes with the end. This one has clay stuck in the end and all in around this corner. This one has a bit more of a lip on it. I noticed the Walnut Hollow has a bit of a lip in here that clay gets stuck into. But, it also unscrews the same sort of way, and you can just pull it out and clean it all up. It’s the same sort of idea. The little rubber washers at the end, and you can scrape it out and wipe it down with a toothpick and all that stuff. That’s one of the, regular maintenance.

Pretend I cleaned this. Sometimes when you’re using your machine, the threads can get so that they don’t move super smoothly. One little tip is to take something like, this is called cut lube. It’s basically a wax that is used for when you’re using a Dremel or drill bits and that kind of thing. It keeps the metal moving. It just lubricates the metal is what that does.

But, what you can do is you can add a little bit of this to the threads too, if you want. Then when you’re opening and closing it, it just sort of lubricates the threads. Because, you got metal against metal, and it can grind away a bit, if it’s used a lot.

I hope that was helpful for you. It looks like I’ve got a little bit more cleaning up to do here and get both these machines all ready to pack back up and put away.


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