How to Maintain a Typewriter. Old typewriters are highly collectible. All manual typewriters require frequent oiling to keep the action smooth and prevent the metal elements from rusting. Over time, dust collects inside the machine and combines with the oil to gum up the works. Maintenance is the key to preserving the life of any typewriter.
Get familiar with all the elements of the typewriter's mechanism. Make notes when disassembling the machine so you can reassemble it efficiently. Try to locate a user's manual for your particular model.
Prevent dirt and debris from falling into the typewriter's mechanism. Try not to eat over your typewriter and handle the machine with clean hands.
Wipe down the keys and the housing with a soft cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol. Clean the keys to remove any oils and dirt left behind by your fingertips.
Clean inside the typewriter occasionally, depending on how frequently you use it. Lift the cover and clean the platen and paper scale. Use a can of compressed air with a long nozzle attachment to dislodge debris.
Remove the ribbon from the typewriter and replace it as needed. Use a soft cloth and rubbing alcohol to wipe off the card holder, feed rollers and deflector. Move the carrier back and forth to access the typewriter's components.
Use rubbing alcohol to clean the locking tab. Place a small amount of petroleum jelly inside the element to prevent sticking. Use a small toothbrush or a toothpick to clean any built-up ink or debris from each key.
Store the typewriter in a well-ventilated area with very low humidity or a dehumidifier to keep the mechanisms rust-free. Keep the machine in its case or drape a clean cloth over it to reduce dust accumulation on the keys and mechanisms.