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I have started printing about a month ago on an Ender 5 (using mostly PLA but recently also PETG) and it seems it's about time to give the print bed a more thorough cleaning than what I usually do after most prints. I'm using the flexible magnetic mat that came with the printer which has a slightly rough surface, but all of the cleaning suggestions I found so far either did not mention the bed material or were specifically for glass beds.

Can/should I use stuff like acetone or rubbing alcohol on this? Or should I stick to warm soap water? I have had some fairly decent results with spectacle cleaning tissues but that will only remove grease, not filament residue.

Also, I am occasionally having some first layer adhesion issues (especially with the PETG or when printing things with a circular base) and I was wondering whether common suggestions like glue sticks or hairspray to prepare the bed for printing can also be applied to the flex mat?

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I have the WhamBam system which uses a PEX layer over flex steel (which sticks to a magnetic sheet on the printer bed). To clean old material off, I use a "brass sponge" intended for cleaning soldering iron tips to remove the old plastic, then give it a wipe with a paper towel with some isopropyl alchohol (I have 99.99 anhydrous on hand as I use that for cleaning printed circuit boards as well).

The brass sponge is fairly soft, does a good job of grabbing the old plastic without tearing up the PEX layer.

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  • $\begingroup$ Would steel wool do the trick? I have some fairly fine grade stuff to hand. $\endgroup$ – marcellothearcane Feb 7 at 20:38
  • $\begingroup$ Try it on a small spot in a corner, see how it looks. $\endgroup$ – CrossRoads Feb 8 at 20:05
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Just about every reference I've seen for non-glass beds is to stay away from acetone. Denatured alcohol is likely a safe bet for beds with surfaces that are not impenetrable. If you can identify the bed material, you'll have a better shot at getting a definitive answer.

If you have filament residue, you won't get it clear without some mechanical effort, unless you had an adhesive layer between the bed and the filament. Even a plastic scraper can be effective in clearing the debris.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think I read somewhere that methylated spirits leaves a residue - should I avoid it? $\endgroup$ – marcellothearcane Feb 7 at 20:39
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    $\begingroup$ The denatured alcohol in our area is not dyed, which means such an additive is not a problem in that respect. The other additive can be methanol, which evaporates at nearly the same temperature, leaving nothing behind, if properly swabbed. The research I've done shows some countries use a colorant, which may leave a residue that could be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol. $\endgroup$ – fred_dot_u Feb 7 at 22:05

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