Instead, after finishing my daily chores, I headed down to the train room and cleaned the layout. It was actually a lot less dusty than I had expected, although the thousands of dead ants and spiders scattered about made the layout look like it was used to film both Them and Tarantula.
Once I'd done with the vacuum cleaner, I wiped down the mainline with lighter fluid using a cloth wrapped around a small block of wood.
Then I set up my track-cleaning train - four track cleaning cars (my own Huey, Dewey and Louie plus a borrowed Aztec car) sandwiched between a pair of SD24s, and set it to doing laps around the layout:
The two end cars are home-made sliders. The pads are rectangles of masonite held loosely in place by nails that run up through holes in the floor of the cars. At the top of each nail I fitted a fishing sinker by squeezing it to the nail with pliers.
The holes in the car floor are just wide enough for the nails to slide freely. The sinker glued to the car floor holds the car on the track, and the sinkers on the nails press the masonite pad onto the rails.
The red car is an Atlas promotional car body that I mounted on a Roco track-cleaning car mechanism:
The fourth car in the consist is made by Aztec, and I borrowed it from a friend (Graham) in case I needed extra grunt to clean the track. It can be filled with fluid, and it has a magnet to pick up any metallic material that might be laying on the track. You can just make out small bits of metal clinging to the rectangular magnet in the photo below.
After every few laps around the layout I clean the pads and the loco wheels, which do much of the cleaning. When the loco wheels no longer get dirty, I know the track is good to go.
Here's a video I made of the track-cleaning train in operation: