The Classic Typewriter Page Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get rid of That Old Typewriter Smell?



Hey, some of us like it! But we’re perverse … Seriously, it’s a common problem, especially with portables–and if you’re allergic to mold, it can be a real health hazard. Yes, the smell is caused primarily by mold, combined with decades of dust and cigarette smoke. Mold won’t grow on metal, but it will grow on typewriter ribbons and on fabric-covered cases. Take your typewriter out of its case and blow the lint and dust out of it (a compressed air canister for cleaning computer and stereo equipment is handy here). Throw away the ribbon. Look carefully for any surfaces that may have mold on them (the typebars usually rest on fabric or felt; some typewriters also have felt elsewhere, to deaden the noise). Clean and polish the machine using the materials I list on my restoration page. The cases can be cleaned with harsher materials, such as Lysol, window cleaner, or ammonia. Then let everything dry thoroughly, preferably in sunlight. Store typewriters and cases in dry environments with moderate temperatures. You may have to clean the cases again every 6 months or so. —Richard PoltThe Classic Typewriter Page Frequently Asked Questions (The Classic Typewriter Page)

I was in a retrotech mood today…



I typed the first draft of a Star Trek novel on my mother’s pink manual typewriter, which she set up in the dining room. I remember the centerpiece on the table would shake every time I hit the carriage return, so sometimes I would put it on the floor of the living room — where the lamps on the end tables would rattle softly as I typed.