Imaging SIMS is used to investigate the recovery of erased serial numbers from polypropylene, polycarbonate and polyvinylchloride substrates. The recovery of the serial numbers is initiated by a swelling mechanism due to the application of two swelling agents: methyleugenol and cinnamaldehyde. The localization of the characteristic molecular ions for the swelling agents is observed in regions associated with erased characters. This study examines and evaluates SIMS images to discover the optimum combination of the polymer and solvents. The results are discussed in reference to the Hildebrand solubility parameter and comments upon the limitations of this suggested indicator.