The $20 Buy That Makes Our Favorite Trend Way Less Scary

One of the trade-offs of living in a big city is small living quarters in exchange for easy access to culture and nightlife. I live in an itty-bitty studio apartment on the Lower East Side in Manhattan. Space is at a premium, and to make the best use of my square footage, I own quite a bit of Lucite (or acrylic) furniture and home accessories. The see-through material looks chic and doesn’t take up a lot of visual room. For instance, since you can see right through the acrylic stools tucked under my kitchen counter, the overall look is sleek and less cluttered than a dark wood or heavy metal version for seating. It has completely changed the appearance of my apartment. However, acrylic is incredibly difficult to clean.

At first, I used all-natural glass cleaner to wipe down my acrylic stools and Muji makeup organizer. But no matter how many times I swiped the microfiber cloth across the material, the acrylic looked cloudy and lessened the “wow” factor. In an effort to cut through the murkiness and bring shine back, I busted out the big guns: Windex. I was disappointed to see that not only did the Windex make my stools look cloudier, it actually also scratched the material.

A somewhat cloudy acrylic table

(Image credit: Megan Wood)

Still, I wasn’t deterred from adding to my collection. While shopping at CB2 for an acrylic c-table to use as a sophisticated nightstand, I mentioned to the helpful salesperson that I loved the look but was unsure of how to care for such an expensive piece. He let me in on a little secret: The ammonia in regular cleaning products doesn’t play nice with the chemical composition of acrylic, and over time it will break down the material, leading to deep scratches. The super affordable solution? Novus’s 7100 plastic polish kit, available both on Amazon.com and at The Container Store.

Novus was originally formulated to clean windshields on boats, planes, and motorcycles–that’s how heavy duty this stuff is. But it’s also a miracle worker with Lucite and home plastics. The Novus 1 formula is all you need if you haven’t already damaged your acrylic. Simply spray the solution directly onto the surface and gently wipe with a microfiber cloth to remove dust, debris, and grime while adding shine. For acrylic furniture that’s gently scratched, Novus 2 is genius for removing small abrasions and serious murkiness leftover from ammonia-based products. If you really did a number on your furniture, Novus 3 works miracles on heavy-duty scratches. The formula actually removes damage, rather than filling it in.

A shining clean arcylic table!

(Image credit: Megan Wood)

I ended up purchasing the acrylic nightstand, and the entire Novus kit – plus a few new microfiber cloths for good measure. Now, my collection looks clean and clear, just as it was designed. I think my next acrylic purchase will be a wine holder, and a refill of Novus 1.

Feeling emboldened to try out the trend (but don’t want to shell out for a coffee table)? Here are five of our favorite acrylic accessories, under $50:

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