Flarp versus Dust Dabber: Battle to clean the dirty hopper

Posted by Rene Schweitzer
on Thursday, March 16, 2017

Recently, Woodland Scenics sent in a box of new products. Inside was a small jar of something called "Dust Dabber." Bob Keller pointed it out to me. It was quite similar to the kids' putty called Flarp. You might remember I mentioned Flarp in an earlier blog post because of its unusual cleaning properties. If not, please see this post.

NOTE: Click on any of the photos to enlarge.

Jars of Flarp, a 'farting' putty for kids.

I thought it would be fun to test Flarp versus Dust Dabber on another cleaning project. Let's see what happens. . .

Woodland Scenics Dust Dabber

Flarp comes in a variety of fun colors. I found a bright yellow, which is quite similar to the Dust Dabber color.

Flarp on the left and Dust Dabber on the right. Similar colors of putty.

After opening the containers, you can see that Flarp is firmer and Dust Dabber is more gooey. I believe that Flarp has changed its formula. It used to be softer but is now more stiff, a bit more like Silly Putty. I opened a second container in case I had a bad one, but the second one was of the same firmness.

Flarp on the left and Dust Dabber on the right.

A bit of each product.

Hubby has had this dusty hopper sitting around that I've been itching to clean. It's the perfect candidate for this test!

Look at all that dust, ready to be removed!

First, I started with the Dust Dabber. I took a small chunk from the container. Use caution: Because it is gooey, bits can fall off onto your floor/table. I had a bit get stuck to my fabric and it was difficult to remove.

It is very soft and gets into corners easily. The dust collects on the outside of the goo. As you work, knead the product so you have a fresh side.

Starting to work with the Dust Dabber.

Dust is captured!

Dust Dabber did a great job. I was pleased.

Cleaning the left side with Flarp.

Now onto the Flarp! I started on the left side of the tender. I was disappointed that the newer formula was stiffer and it took some pressure to get it into the corners. However, it still removed dust well and was easier to control because it was stiffer. See the photo for results.

Ta da! It's now clean. Both sides look good now.

The left side after I'd cleaned it with Flarp.

A nice, clean hopper.

My thoughts? I was pleased at how well Dust Dabber worked. The consistency of the product will allow it to get into any corner or crack that you have. My only niggle about the product is the smell. It has a lemon, almost Pine Sol scent to it. If it did not have a scent, it would appeal to me much more. I mention it in case anyone reading this is sensitive to scents. Flarp has no scent and might be a better option for you.

If Flarp still produced its old, softer formula I would say this was a draw, but given that it's now firmer, the win goes to Dust Dabber! This is a good product that has many uses on your layout and dusty rolling stock. Either way, the tender is now clean, and that makes me happy.

Have you use either of these products? What are your thoughts?

PS. In case you are wondering if Dust Dabber makes flatulent noises, it does not. I know you were wondering. . . .

UPDATE: Last night, Hubby took a chunk of Dust Dabber to clean part of an old (N scale) layout. He returned a while later with a greenish-brown glob in his hand. I wish I'd taken a photo, because the amount of dirt that Dust Dabber picked up was amazing. The container of Dust Dabber has now "disappeared" and is in Hubby's hands. . .

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