The best way to clean up the ways (bed) of your lathe is to not let them get rusty in the 1st place!
Lay a towel over the bed if you are using water or CA or the like. 3M has some pads that I would consider using for the clean-up. (can't think of their name at present). Then a waterproof spray protector. Check out LV, that's where my stuff comes from.
Mack C. in Brooklin ON
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