We have some short and tall traffic cones. Some of them are out of maintenance, and need to be repaired & cleaned. The two big questions are:

  1. How can I clean the traffic cones?

  2. How can I repair the traffic cone's white bands?

They look like this:

traffic cones

As you can see, there are three types of traffic cones, from left to right as defined 1, 2, and 3. Number 1 is dirty; number 2 is both dirty and damaged; number 3 on the right is short and repaired temporarily.

dirty traffic cone

You can see the dirty cones contain oil, dust, etc. and need to be cleaned. Which product should I use without harming the plastic surface and it's colour?

repaired traffic cone

To be clear, I bought a thin reflective band in order to surround the cone, but according to the geometric rules, if I use a rectangle sided band on a cone, I will face some material gaps that I don't want. Also, the problem is that bands are very expensive here in Turkey.

  • 2
    Good question... Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 15:57

2 Answers 2


Here is my current solution. First of all, I cut every old and dirty reflective sticker with a utility knife:

enter image description here

Now it looks like that:

enter image description here

I used a green roughed dish sponge with Cif Cream to rub, and cleaned with water.

I bought large reflective rulo from an advertising banner shop in the city center, then I cut it into lots of rectangular pieces. Each has almost the same length & width:

enter image description here

After that, I put these pieces onto the cleaned surfaces of the traffic cones. While I was doing this, I needed to force the surface inside to attach the sticker correctly on to the straight side. Even though the surface is cone shaped, when I forced the material inside and under, thanks to the surface's flexible material (not all, just some of them are soft), it performed as if the area was flat. I put the sticker on smoothly with ease:

enter image description here

You can easily see when you are near the cones, I had unwanted and unneccessary corners when we put the stickers on. I used a utility knife to modify all corners in order to look good.

I know that these methods are not original. According to the traffic safety, I must clean and repair these old traffic cones.


Cleaning tip

In my world, if something was really dirty we used White spirit (also known as Mineral spirit in the US) which took care of most dirt in various forms (including oil, paint, different industrial glues, etc.). In some rare cases we needed to use Acetone (commonly found in nail polish remover).

After cleaning with either of these, we used ordinary dish washer soap to get all the oily residues of whatever we were washing, before ending with a rinse of pure water.

This wash procedure should be possibly to apply to the traffic cones as well. Do note that both White spirit and Acetone are somewhat toxic and should only be used in well ventilated areas, and handled with care.

Some links related to cleaning of oil and tar and some informations on solvents and thinners:

Band repairs

You'll get some loss of reflective tape almost any way you apply it. Trying to apply it in horizontal stripes will fail with a non smooth finish. Simple vertical stripes will either have a lot of overlap, or gaps at the top.

My solution would be to use slanted strips parallell to each other, and then cut the top and bottom ring clean.

Procedure suggestion:

  • Make two circles on the cone. One indicating the top edge of the reflective area, and one indicating the bottom edge of the reflective area. This can be done with a marker, and the cone on a rotating chair or similar
  • Starting at the top edge, start with the reflective tape just above the top circle, so that there will be a small triangle above the circle
  • Let the tape go on slant, say 30°, down to the lower circle
  • When crossing the lower circle, cut it along the circle
  • Restart at the top, and now you'll see that the tape when put parallell to the previous tape would leave a smaller triangle on top of the circle
  • Tape it parallell all the way to the lower circle, and repeat this procedure cutting of the excess pieces as you go along

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