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Cleaning and Restoring Yellowed Plastic

Posted by keelynet on March 4, 2009

Finally, someone figured out how to clean all the yellowed plastics we have. The machines work well enough but are ugly as crap. I always thought it was nicotine stains from smokers but then I don’t smoke and some of my old equipment still has that yellowed look which no amount of soap or cleaning will completely remove…until….now;

plasticclean108“How to deal with the “not-so-mellow yellow” of old computers and consoles – Anyone who has dug their old computer or console out of the cupboard or loft for some retro gaming will probably have noticed that it maybe hasn’t worn too well with the test of time. The plastics these machines were made of is called ABS and to make it flame retardant…the plastics manufacturers added chemicals that caused the plastic turn yellow or, even worse, brown over a long period of time. It was originally thought that the yellowing was permanent and that the only solution to this was to paint the plastic in its original colour and cover the problem up. However, a chance discovery was made in March 2008, by The CBM Museum at Wuppertal in Germany, that immersing parts in a solution of Hydrogen Peroxide could partially reverse the process. This was initially taken up by the Amiga community in Germany…and the idea eventually found its way to the English Amiga Board…where a madcap collection of chemists, plastics engineers and retro hackers managed to perfect this concept and put it on steroids, with help from other forums… / Directions – In Arizona, you shouldn’t need the UV lamp, it’s just us in the UK that keep wondering what the big yellow thing in the sky is…..;) Temperature will not be a problem and may help the reaction. DON’t add more than 5 grammes (1/4 teaspoonful) per litre max. of the Oxy powder, or you will have foam all ove the place that the local Fire Department would be proud of… LOL. That works out at about 1 teaspoonful per gallon. Summarising, this is what you need for best results:- 1. Hydrogen peroxide solution, the stronger the better; 2. “Oxy” laundry booster powder, 1 teaspoonful per gallon; 3. The part to be treated, with all electronics and metal parts removed as much as possible; 4. Sunlight, lots of sunlight. 5. A large clear plastic or glass tank, large enough to hold the object to be cleaned, e.g. a fish tank. Under your conditions I would expect you to see a major difference within two to three days, even with 6% peroxide. Please take some photos, before, during and after, that would be cool. – Thanks Merlin’ – Source

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One Response to “Cleaning and Restoring Yellowed Plastic”

  1. kstrnka said

    Tried this on a 10in long clear (pliable) plastic Halloween skeleton that had yellowed over the years and I was going to throw it out. Being that it was small scale and dispensable, I just put the item in a zip-lock bag and squirted hydrogen peroxide in. I added a pinch of Oxy powder but when it didn’t foam up I added a couple more pinches. It was more than was recommended but I figured my peroxide was old.
    I left a small part of the zip-top open and left it out in the sun. No noticeable change the first day but the second day I was amazed at how the yellowing was disappearing and leaving the plastic still clear!
    I’m on the third day and it’s dark and cloudy outside but I am thoroughly impressed!
    I am sorry I did not take any before and after pictures!

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