I need ideas. How do those of you with large permanent layouts keep your layout dusted and clean? ant ideas will be greatly appreciated.

Randy Harrison,

President of the:

Great Northeastern Railway

The Standard Railroad of the Basement



Original Post

This is a never ending task but it has to be done. One thing that does help is that I have a good air purifier running 24/7. I use a whole array of tools such as model paint brushes small mini vacs. Q Tips. One thing I found that works good and cleaning autos and trucks is turtle ice spray detailer. All my vehicles on the layout have a showroom shine and it does help repel the dust. All in all depending on what needs dusting does take time care and patience.





I'm not anal about keeping the layout in show room condition.  As long as the track is clean  and the rolling stock and locos look presentable , I'm OK with that.  Low pressure compressed air takes care of the rest.

Wild Mary (AKA Nick) Retired & "Riding The Wild Mary"



Forum Member Since 24 Sept. 2004


I use a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment on accessible layout surfaces. Sometimes remove structures and wipe them down with a paper towel moistened with an ammoniated cleaner - same for locomotives and rolling stock. Frequently clean Atlas O track with 91% alcohol. Dehumidifier always running in basement. No smoking, model smoke or pets.


Geojr posted:

How do you keep train parts that have fallen off from getting sucked up and disappearing

Keep a small shop-vac devoted for layout cleaning only.  Every now and then, dump the residue on an old newspaper and check through the dirt and muck for any train parts that it may have sucked up.  Once satisfied, pitch the refuse, button it up, and do it all over again in another month or two.  Lather, rinse, repeat. 




2 Rails?  3 Rails?  Doesn't matter, I can't count that high in either case.

I love the smell of fresh-brewed creosote first thing in the morning.

If the government knew how much fun O-gauge railroading was, they'd outlaw it!

Common sense is my second best trait.  Nonsense is my first, of course. 

A vacuum with a small dia tube (like 1" vs 3"shopvac)

I put a nylon over it to catch small items before they can enter the tube. (learned from someone here). (Hang on consistently or it will be in the dust bin pronto, lol)

I agitate dust with paint brushes, brushing dust at the nozzle; laid flat mostly. I usr large artist paint brushes/a fan brush for large flats, sometime use a household 1/2", 2", etc. brush, always with natural bristles vs plastic. (really small plastic bristle brushes make occasional appearances)

I'm the Bob Ross of trains when vacuuming; a new brush in hand every few seconds to gain a better angle.

For stuff like satin, cloth.... grass/etc. a light plastic bristle and light touch works better than any size super soft bristles.

Super bad? Dampening the brush in a small glass of water, soaking wiped up dust out of the brush with a rag, repeat. Dawn may be involved.

Water dries, dry things fast and damage is less likely ;oil protects metal ; it's practically a religion for me.

I have used compressed air to clean up shavings, etc. plenty; but not inside the house for dust. Sounds like ole "Carl"  (caddyshack)  Too much stirred around rather than eliminated so I vacuum. (Sawdust? What's the tooth count? If fine, vacuum so it isn't blown everywhere; if coarse chips, blow on it all day.  My household dust is on the very very fine side of sawdusty  vs chip sized 🙃 )    With the garage door open my air compressor does grinder and paint dust duty often, I'm baulking at indoor dust.

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"


"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.


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