A less expensive alternative to paint brushes are "Chip Brushes". They are usually horse hair with bare wooden handles. They are meant for rougher use and to be disposable when worn.
Remember that any cleaner leaves a residue, so it should be flushed with clean water afterwards. If not, the residue will react with moisture and cause rust/corrosion eventually. Later generations of hams may curse you for your lazy use of spray cleaners with a 'Lick and a promise" as my grandmother used to say.
Here are my stable of cleaning tools:
-Krud Kutter spray, well diluted with warm water, and flushed copiously in the sink. Best cleaner-deOdorizer for nicotine and mold/mildew.
-Novus 1,2,3 plastic cleaner/polishes. Protective coating-no need to flush
-Flitz polish!!! Abrasive-polish when used firmly, used gently it cleans and leaves a waxy protective coat. My typical finish for chassis, cabinets, knobs, bare wire and even plastic if I don't feel like using Novus
-Simichrome: excellent equivalent to Flitz in a soft paste form (German)Spot cleaning
solvents: 91% Isopropyl alcohol (leaves white residue), mineral spirits, denatured alcohol (rarely) anything stronger needs good justification.
Dials: should be cleaned with great care. Many markings will dissolve with cleaners/polishes, some are water soluable. Use a cotton swab and pretend you are cleaning the Sistine Chapel ceiling!
Bakelite knobs: Caution! Bakelite is essentially wood dust in a phenolic resin, and the shiny surface is less than a millimeter thick. Once you wear thru that surface nothing will bring the shine back. All you can do is paint over. Many chemicals, alcohols, will destroy Bakelite in a heartbeat.
1. Wash gently in warm water with dish soap, using a soft rag or toothbrush. If you see the rinse water turning brown, that is the finish coating going down the drain.
2. Let dry, give a good GENTLE coating of wax e.g. J-wax, Simichrome, Flitz and polish with soft cloth.
-nail (hand) brush
-Scotchbrite pad (rarely, very abrasive)
-plastic cup and bowl for rinsing and holding dilute Krud Kutter
-Women's cosmetic cotton pad- tons of these
-Old soft rags or Rag-in-a-Box for cleanups and wipe down
-I have had bad success with my dishwasher, which has minimal setting controls. It impressively stripped the entire paint from two Harvey-Wells TBS-50d cabinets. Never again.
**Others disagree, but I would NEVER put a radio chassis with wiring and components in a dishwasher**
-Forced drying: Be careful in applying heat since damage can occur. Wax may drip from capacitors, IF cans; Tar from 'potted' coils, etc.
The Navy approved method for oven drying salvaged and recovered equipment is to preheat an oven to 120F and let it bake until the the unit is thoroughly warmed and the oven humidity dispersed. This will be just a little warmer than you can comfortably touch. No need to use higher heat, most radios are dry in about an hour.
Remember: You can only have the original finish once. Be conservative in your cleaning. bill