How to Refurbish a Carousel Style Gumball Machine

  • 01 of 04

    How to Refurbish a Carousel Style Gumball Machine

    gumball machine
    Refurbish and personalize an old gumball machine to create unique home decor or personable gift. Photo © Jami Delia

    Old fashioned and vintage carousel style gumball machines can cost quite a penny. However, if you're looking to decorate a room with a table-top gumball machine or give one as a gift, browse thrift stores and flea markets for the best deal.

    Scoring the best deal may mean the machine will need some repair or at least cleaned up. Don't let a gently used or dirty gumball machine deter you from a great bargain. Pick up the gumball machine and bring it home.

    You can restore and refurbish the gumball machine back to its original condition in a traditional style (usually red and silver) or transform it into a unique decorating item for any room in your home or to give as a gift. For example, paint the gumball machine white and fill with ribbons or ornaments for each season or holiday and display in your living room or on a side table. Be as creative as you'd like!

    After you decide how you want to refurbish your gumball machine, gather the following supplies:

    • cleaning solution (e.g., glass cleaner, vinegar and water solution)
    • paper towels or soft, clean rags
    • paint or foam brush (if not using spray paint)
    • primer and paint (or a combination spray)
    • painter's tape
    • newspaper
    • any embellishments to decorate the outside of the gumball machine
    • filler (candy, nuts, ribbons, ornaments, beads, etc)


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  • 02 of 04

    Clean the Gumball Machine

    Clean the entire gumball machine to remove dust and candy residue. Photo © Jami Delia

    Before you begin cleaning the gumball machine, carefully disassemble all of the pieces. If you're not sure how it will go back together, take a photo beforehand to reference when you re-assemble the gumball machine.

    Taking the gumball machine apart before cleaning will help you get to all the nooks and crannies clean. Wipe down the gumball machine with simple window cleaner or a solution of water and vinegar to remove dust or stickiness from any candy.

    If gum or candy was once stored in the machine, there may be residual stickiness or remnants of the candy.

    • To remove any residue from the glass bowl, carefully place it in a sink of warm, soapy water. Let soak for a little while until you notice the sticky residue removing easily. Just be sure not to include any metal pieces in the water.
    • To remove any residue from the other machine components, gently rub the area with a soft toothbrush. Dip the toothbrush in soapy water or a solution of water and vinegar. After the residue comes off, wipe off the area with a wet paper towel to remove any suds.

    After all dust and stickiness are removed from the machine, let it completely dry.


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  • 03 of 04

    Paint the Gumball Machine

    Apply primer and paint (or a 2-in-1 product) to restore the gumball machine to its original glory or personalize it to make it your own. Photo © Jami Delia

    When picking out the paint you want to use to restore your gumball machine, keep in mind whether you'll be using the gumball machine as decoration only or to store candy. If you want to fill the gumball machine with gum or candy, use a non-toxic paint. Even though you may not paint the inside of the gumball machine, you still want to make sure there are no toxic materials near the candy or gum.

    Before you begin painting the gumball machine, tape off all sections you do not want to be painted. This can include any metal or plastic pieces that are non-removable.

    Use a combination of painter's tape and newspaper for large areas you don't want to paint. Be sure to completely cover the areas if using spray paint.

    To paint a gumball machine, use a primer and paint combination spray paint. Applying multiple thin coats of the spray paint provide just the right amount of coverage, especially for going from bright red to white.

    If you are not using a combination primer/paint, apply primer before painting. This will help provide the most coverage and allow the color of the paint to display the closest to its true color.

    When applying multiple coats of paint (and if using both a primer and a paint), let each coat dry for an hour or so before applying the next coat.

    After all primer and paint is applied, let the paint completely dry before removing the tape and paper or moving the item. To be on the safe side, let the gumball machine dry outside overnight. 


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  • 04 of 04

    Re-Assemble the Gumball Machine

    Fill the gumball machine with candy or other item, such as ribbon, ornaments or colored stones, to complete the refurbishing process. Photo © Jami Delia

    After the paint has completely dried (there is no sticky or tackiness to the surface), re-assemble the pieces to put the gumball machine back together.

    If using your gumball machine as decor, attach your choice of embellishments, such as pearls, beads, sequins or glitter, to the outside of the machine with hot glue or craft glue.

    Fill your gumball machine with your choice of candy or decor, such as ribbons, beads, colored stones, ornaments or small toys.