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How to Clean a Lionel O Gauge Track

Cleaning Lionel O-Gauge track should be a regular part of your model train maintenance. Even the best Lionel engines will sputter and stall on dusty or oxidized track, and a dirty track can also lead to buildup on your engine wheels. With the right tools, however, cleaning Lionel O-Gauge track is quick and easy.

Cleaning an Old or Neglected Track

Using the vacuum's stick attachment to clear any dust, grit, ballast, or other loose grime along the track.

Scrub along the metal rails of the track with an abrasive sponge. You will have to scrub the entire length of each rail.

Rub the soft cloth along the length of each track to dust away any bits that the abrasive pad has left behind.

If there is a lot of loose residue left after scrubbing, vacuum the track again.

Routine Track Maintenece

Gently wipe the track with a soft, dry cloth to remove any dust.

Apply the liquid track cleaner to a length of track with a small brush or soft sponge.

Wipe the liquid track cleaner off with a soft cloth.

Repeat these steps for each length of track.

Things You'll Need:

  • Vacuum w/ stick attachment
  • Abrasive scrub sponge
  • Soft cloth
  • Liquid track cleaner
  • A small brush or soft sponge


Some hobbyists prefer to invest in a track-cleaning car, which carries liquid track-cleaner in a small reservoir and cleans the track as it goes.

There are several brands of liquid track-cleaner available; inquire at your local hobby shop for details.


  • Do not use highly abrasive materials such as steel wool to scrub the track, as these will gouge the metal. Stick with counter-top friendly pads.
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