In my last blog post I covered how to cut Isolate IT Sorbothane and we talked a little about how sticky or tacky it naturally is. In many applications, this is great as a non-skid property. This natural property of the Sorbothane can also attract dust, dirt, and other debris.
If you want to make sure that your Sorbothane isolators look their best all the time, then I recommend having a urethane coating applied. This is currently an available option on Sorbothane Hemispheres. This urethane coating also prevents the plasticizers within the Sorbothane from damaging sensitive and delicate surfaces.
For all other Sorbothane mounts, bushings, washers, sheets, pads, etc., they can be easily cleaned. While cleaning Sorbothane isn't necessary, it can help to restore the natural tackiness and non-skid properties. This is particularly helpful when repositioning isolators which you will probably do at some point. Unlike other vibration damping rubber, silicone, and elastic polymers that break down over time, Sorbothane will retain its isolation properties for at least a decade.
When I'm working in our design lab, my go to cleaning solution is basic 70% isopropyl alcohol and a black microfiber cleaning cloth. Higher concentrations work, but I've found that 70% isopropyl alcohol gives a good balance of work/cleaning time and fast drying. Higher concentrations can evaporate and dry too rapidly before you've had a chance to fully remove dust, debris, oil, etc. The black microfiber cloth traps dust and any fibers that it does shed are not easily perceptible. If the Sorbothane starts to pull or stick, use a little more isopropyl alcohol.
Apply enough alcohol to the cleaning cloth to wet it but not soak it. Then gently wipe the Sorbothane rubber from the center outwards towards the edges. This will move dust, hair, and other dirt towards the edge and off of the Sorbothane.
Once the Sorbothane has been cleaned, allow it 10-30 seconds for the surface to become visibly dry. The Sorbothane should have regained most of it's original tackiness. You can now reinstall it.
Sorbothane can also be cleaned with water. Run the Sorbothane under cold or lukewarm water while massaging it to remove any contaminates. Pat with a towel or absorbent cloth, then air dry completely before reusing the Sorbothane. I don't recommend soaking Sorbothane as it will absorb water over time and expand. If this happens, place the Sorbothane on a drying rack and allow it at least 24-48 hours to dry and return to its original shape.
You will notice over time and repeated cleanings that Sorbothane gradually loses its sheen and tackiness. A quick cleaning during repositioning is a great way to restore the non-skid properties of your Sorbothane.