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These are articles that were on the front page from as early as October 2018 to December 2022 when I split the front page up into various archives for my blog posts. While not blogs per se, I include them here as an archive of the front page articles that I wrote before I started the blog posts, some written when I was 15.

Tips On Cleaning License Plates

When there are license plates, there are imperfections. They may be as mild as a speck of dirt on the edge or as severe as a hole rusted through. Sometimes you can fix it, other times, you can't.

Before you begin, use rubber gloves when handling chemicals.

Also note that plate cleaning of any type is a risk and plates will be damaged in some way if you are not careful, use harsh chemicals, or have a crappy plate. I've literally just washed a plate off quickly and the ink on the sticker came off.

Rust removal

There are a lot of different ways to clean rust off of plates. There is one thing in common with most of them: They aren't foolproof. Removing rust is a very risky process, since you may end up stripping the plate of its paint.

The first way to remove rust is CLR, which is a rust cleaner. It is effective at removing rust, but may weaken the paint. What I do is grab a cotton ball, pour out some CLR onto the cotton ball, and scrub lightly until the stains are gone. It is a good idea to not do it one section at a time, as some areas will get more CLR treatment than others, leading to it deteriorating the paint more than necessary. I tried soaking a plate in a vat of CLR, and it was a disaster. First, it took way too long, and by the time it started removing rust, it was removing paint. It also was a pain to clean up, as I had to try to get it into an old soda bottle. It also wastes an entire bottle of CLR per plate.

Removing rust stains on reflective plates can be accomplished with Comet. What I'll do is grab my handy-dandy cotton ball, wet my plate, sprinkle Comet on, wait a few seconds, and scrub with the cotton ball. It works for reflective plates, but don't try it on older paint license plates, as it damages paint.

Iron Out

I have also done experiments with Iron Out. I first tried it on a 1927 Wisconsin license plate. I heard that it removes light rist stains without affecting the paint. My plate's foreground paint was thinned within minutes. Then again, the plate didn't work well with any treatments, including the CLR treatment. I decided to try it on a reflective plate. It did remove the rust stains on it, but it also dissolved the varnish, making it more vulnerable to rust again. I did three more plates, a 1923 plate, a 1934 plate, and a 1936 plate. The 1923 plate was a major improvement and the paint barely thinned at all. The 1934 plate did nothing and it damaged the paint a little. The 1936 plate was an improvement but the paint was starting to get removed so I had to stop the treatment halfway through. All in all Iron Out works if you are willing to risk paint thinning.


I tried EvapoRust in February; this was also my first experiment with rust removers. I used a 1951 Wisconsin license plate (47 dated) and wrapped it in shop towels soaked with EvapoRust. It did end up removing a good amount of rust in a few hours, but by then it also stripped the number paint. Even after it was dry, the paint was still extremely brittle. It said that it wouldn't remove paint unless the paint contained oxides... either the plate had been oxidized to a paint level or the paint contained oxides.
UPDATE: I used EvapoRust on two plates, a 1933 plate and a 1934 plate, the 1933 plate had the background paint ruined, and the 1934 plate had a splotchy finish to the cleaning. I have concluded that EvapoRust is NOT a good idea for license plates.


Bugs and dirt can easily be removed by simply putting the plates in soapy water for a while, then scrub with a towel (or even sometimes a tissue if you really hate laundry). Just don't use hot water; doing this could ruin the varnish. If you leave a plate in water for too long the paint might start to come off or the reflective sheeting may fade from what I hear. I've left plates in the sink for hours then scratched the layer of bad paint off with my fingernail. Not a very effective or practical solution, but having a slightly faded plate is still better than an awfully stained license plate.

Mystery plates

These plates have mysteries to them, whether they are unidentified types, unidentified uses, or even unidientified location of where these plates came from.

I bought a 1967 Minnesota Permit Carrier license plate at an antique shop. It says "permit carrier" but what was it used on? And for what? And who licensed it?

Another plate also raises questions. It is from North Dakota, from 1967, but it says "pro" on the left. I haven't seen any of these on any website. I did find a trailer plate that was similar to the plate I own. Is it a prorate trailer license plate?
UPDATE: I looked at the ALPCA archives a while ago, and it said that the plate was a Pro plate, and it was used on some specific kind of trailer for some specific use.

One plate is the most mysterious license plate in my collection. It is white on black, has small characters which are "alligatoring", identical to 1990s Kentucky license plates. It says Clinton County on the bottom. I have searched the internet, and I have come up with nothing. The guy who sold it to me originally said he thought that it was used on a city vehicle. One year later, he said he couldn't find anything on it either. Any assistance on what this license plate was used for or how old it is and where it came from would be greatly appreciated. I am hoping to add a feedback section soon.
UPDATE: I have done some research, and I found that the dies are identical to 1990s Kentucky dies, and after looking at Clinton County, Kentucky, I found a town called Wolf River Dock. I believe that this plate was issued in the 1990s and was issued in Wolf River Dock, Kentucky. However, that does not solve the mystery of why the license plate was non-reflective and was made out of iron that didn't rust.
UPDATE 2: I was looking on eBay, and I found a similar plate. I sent it to an ALPCA archivist, and they said that it was actually a house number that is used in rural areas. I unfortunately think that what I bought was a house number issued in Wolf River Dock, Kentucky. I spent $10 on that plate and another $10 on a county tax tab from Virginia.

What got me collecting?

As a kid, I was interested in cars. In fact, in kindergarten and first grade I would pass the time on ridiculously long bus rides by naming out the car companies of the cars that would drive by the bus.

At that time I was not paying attention to the license plates.

After many years, that car interest faded. After that, in 2012, I started to get an interest in license plate stickers. I must have gotten interested on all of the sticker colors and their replacement cycles. I also loved those "sticker mania" license plates, where people oppose the general recommendation of one neat sticker stack by sticking stickers all over the license plate to the point that the slogan, state, and sometimes even parts of the serial get covered up.

In some winter around that time, I was wondering what my dad's license plate would look like with a 2012 sticker on it. So being the dumb moron I am I peeled back the sticker to see a little bit of the sticker and then the sticker cleanly popped off. My dad was not happy, and wedged the sticker between the license plate and the car until we got home. He then stuck the sticker back on with packing tape and when it came time to replace the sticker he scratched the rest of the stickers off. I found the 2013 sticker on the ground and peeled it off of the tape and kept it. I stuck it and some pieces of other stickers on a blank plate, 985-BZX. I later took the stickers off and only kept the 2013 sticker, and since 2016 or so it's been sitting taped by my window. Ever since then my dad doesn't trust me around our license plate.

I got my first license plate around May or June 2012. It came from my grandfather, who also supplied me with 3 more license plates later on. The license plate was a normal black Wisconsin license plate, and the hologram said March 2002 on it. I (thought) I remembered the license plate being on his car when I was very little, probably less than 4 years old. I looked the plate up on the DMV inquiry tool and it came up with a car I don't know at all, completely different color. The other stickered plate still hasn't been found. The other plates were more regular black license plates, a numeric truck plate, and a bicycle license plate from 1979. I also gained a pair of motor home license plates from 2012. They had just expired a few months before I got them. They were in surprisingly good condition, just having some candy on them and being bent slightly. I liked the fact that the stickers were on them, and I attempted to peel off the stickers to see what was underneath. I gave up after it just started crumbling on the corner, and I'm glad the stickers didn't just come off cleanly.

In 2013 I put my license plate collection in my TV stand and quit collecting because of my OCD.

On September 23, 2015, my mom made me clean out my TV stand. I finally did, finding my old license plate collection. I decided to continue collecting license plates after that. I didn't expect to get many more license plates, since there is only so many license plates that my family and friends have. I was actually surprised when I reached my 50th license plate in less than a year.

The next day, on September 24, 2015, we went to Cranfest. I actually didn't want to go at the time, because I didn't know what actually would be there. I wasn't expecting there to be license plates there. I didn't have any money at that time. But when we were there, I found boxfuls of license plates. They were $2 each. One box had some out-of-state license plates, and those were $5 each. I was able to get a $2 license plate and a $5 license plate, as well as a free $2 license plate and some $2 unused license plate stickers. I found another vendor with lots of plates. Those were also $2. I got one of those. There was a sticker mania farm license plate I wanted. It was in rough shape and it had a stand attatched to it, so I got a dual purpose farm license plate.

After that, in November 2015, I went antique shopping and I found many boxfuls of license plates. I blew $40 on license plates I was saving up to buy a new TV. UPDATE: In March 2018 I bought an Xbox one, which only had HDMI so I had to buy a new TV for my birthday.

I asked for license plates for Christmas that year. I got one for Christmas, but just before Christmas I got a lot of old license plates, including a 1921 New York license plate. I also went antique shopping during that time, gaining a lot of license plates.

After that, in January 2016, I dropped $35 on this:


In April 2016, I started my Illinois run.

After just 7 months, I got my 50th license plate. And 4 months later, I got my 100th license plate. 2 months later I reached 150 license plates, and 5 months later I got my 200th license plate. I now estimate that my license plate collection has between 380 and 400 license plates.

I am now a member of the ALPCA. My collection keeps growing rapidly. I have gotten an average of a license plate every 3 days.

See blog posts from: 2023-2024 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018

Created April 17, 2023.