How To Clean Sticky Plastic

The majority of electronics are housed in some kind of plastic which for the most part is very long lasting and easy to clean with a damp cloth. There is one type of rubberized plastic coating that doesn’t fall into this easy to clean category. The coating is used to make the plastic feel more upmarket but once it starts to degrade it becomes tacky and eventually straight up sticky.

I have tried all sorts of cleaners including Goo Gone which is usually great for removing sticky marks from plastic. Nothing worked and most just made the coating more sticky. I didn’t want to start trying more harsh solvents as I’ve damaged plastics in the past using things like alcohol rub.

An old Linksys E4200 router had become so bad that the entire top was sticky with a layer of dust attached. I was trying to clean the dust off in the laundry room when I noticed the box of baking soda and thought it was worth a try. Using a small cup I made a thick paste of baking soda and water, I then used my finger to rub the paste on the router. In a few seconds the sticky coating started to come off. It took about 10 minutes and a quick wipe with a damp cloth but the stickiness had finally gone. The plastic underneath is by no means pristine but at least it isn’t sticky and I can now clean it with just a damp cloth.

It won’t be quite as easy to use this method on things like TV remotes but it might be easy to remove the cover and clean it before reassembling.

Changing Office Add Ins to Auto Load

A client has been having issues with Office add-ins for Time Matters not loading when Outlook and Word are started. The add-ins were previously working so Lexis Nexis support tried the first four steps on this list to fix the problem with no luck. I then tried the remaining steps with the same result, the add-in was shown in Outlook but wasn’t loaded or active.

Two of the machines had fresh installs of Windows 7 and Windows 10 so conflicts with old software versions and remnants left in the registry were unlikely. The add-ins worked perfectly when activated manually so it wasn’t a compatibility issue.

I decided to check the registry for load settings and sure enough the add-ins were set to not load automatically. This was after a full uninstall of both Office and Time Matters so it seems like a strange setting for an add-in intended for daily office use.

Thankfully the setting is quick and easy to fix using the following steps.

  1. Open the Registry Editor
  2. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software > Microsoft > Office > Word > Addins > (changing Word for the correct Office application)
  3. Open the add-in with the problem
  4. Double click to open the LoadBehavior item
  5. Change the binary value to 3
  6. Close the registry editor and test the Office applications.