How to Clean Old, Yellowed Plastic on Retro Computers and Game Systems

How to Clean Old, Yellowed Plastic on Retro Computers and Game Systems

Here we can see, “How to Clean Old, Yellowed Plastic on Retro Computers and Game Systems”

Ever notice how your old gadgets have turned an unsightly yellow colour since you purchased them? Old Macs, Commodores, Nintendo systems, and other machines look dreadful 30 years later—but there’s how to decorate them up again.

Why Old Plastic Turns Yellow (and How You Can Make It White Again)

This yellowing happens because of a flame retardant called bromine in those old ABS plastics. When exposed to UV light, those bromine molecules can destabilize and leech through the surface, causing the plastic to show yellow (or even brown if left long enough). Modern plastics have improved the chemistry, so this process doesn’t happen, but those old machines from the 80s aren’t so lucky.

Different retro machines will yellow at different rates than others, even from an equivalent line of products. Your Super Nintendo could also be much yellower than your friend’s, simply because they were from different batches of plastic. Here’s what’s even weirder: sometimes, two pieces of plastic within the same machine are often different levels of yellow, sort of a meth head with half a denture set. The Super Nintendo we’ll be using as our example today, seen below, features a much yellower base than the top.

A few years ago, some enterprising and chemistry-savvy forum users discovered that peroxide could help remove these free bromides from the plastic, restoring the first white color. Unfortunately, it isn’t permanent since there are still free bromides deep within the plastic, which will re-surface after another few years. Additionally, some people think the method makes those plastics more brittle and fragile. But if you’re willing to place up with those annoyances, it’s an excellent thanks to making your retro gadgets display-worthy once more. They created a recipe of ingredients and dubbed the formula Retr0bright.

What You Need

Since Retr0bright’s creation, many of us have come up with different methods for Retr0brighting their systems, with different advantages and drawbacks. The first Retr0bright recipe involved a 10% peroxide solution mixed with other ingredients to offer it a more creamy consistency. But after a short time, some people found that this “recipe” was unnecessary: you’ll already buy a creamy peroxide solution within the sort of hair developer (the 8-Bit Guy calls it “Retr0bright during a bottle”). Head to any beauty supply store and invite 40 Volume Creme Developers, and you’re in business. We’re using this $3 bottle by Salon Care from Sally Beauty.

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Note: Some people recommend submerging your plastic during a tub of 10% to fifteen peroxide liquid rather than using the cream (no higher, or you’ll increase the prospect of blooming and streaking). Granted, this is often easier (and a touch less likely to cause streaking), but it’s more dangerous, to not mention expensive. Plus, it doesn’t allow you much control, as everything is going to be covered—you can’t avoid labels or another lettering. As long as you follow our instructions to the letter, the cream should work well, with minimal streaking.

Apart from your Retr0bright of choice, you need a couple of other things:

  • Rubber gloves: I highly recommend some hand covering since you don’t need to urge these things on your skin, as it’ll offer you a pleasant chemical burn. You’ll get some from the sweetness supply store also if you don’t have them already.
  • Safety goggles: You should wear a protective eye covering since you don’t want to urge these things in your eyes because it can blind you. (Seriously, don’t skip these!)
  • A paintbrush or tint brush: You’ll also need a brush to use the cream. An old paintbrush will work, but you’ll also grab a tint brush for a buck or two alongside the developer at the sweetness supply store—that’s what I did.
  • Cling wrap: You’ll need this to stop the cream from evaporating, which can assist you to get a good result.
  • Rubbing alcohol: You’ll want to wash the plastic before you Retr0bright it. Relatively clean devices will probably need water and a rag but denatured, or isopropanol is quite useful for getting a number of those tougher scuffs and dirt marks off.
  • A screwdriver (and the other necessary tools): Lastly, you’ll likely need a screwdriver to require apart your gadget, alongside the other necessary tools (some Nintendo systems require a special bit to urge it open, for example). I also use a magnetic screw tray to keep all those little screws organized, but that’s optional.
  • A UV light bulb (optional): If you’ve got the space and don’t want to go away, it calls at the sun (which requires more attention to avoid streaking), you’ll use a UV light during a separate room. I didn’t choose this method myself, but I’ve heard goodies about it.

Once you’ve got everything in one place, read through the instructions below very carefully before you start.

Step 1: Disassemble Your Hardware

If in the least possible, we highly recommend disassembling the device in question before you begin cleaning and Retr0brighting. Ideally, you’ll break it right down to just the plastic parts you would like to wash, with all the metal pieces and circuitry put aside. This may make the cleaning much easier (since you’ll be ready to hose it off) and avoid any problems with the Retr0bright harming the internals.

This process will differ, counting on what you’re dismemberment, so hit up YouTube for a “teardown” video of your specific gadget—chances are, there are probably a couple of out there. Put aside the internals and confirm you don’t lose any of the screws (again, this is often where that magnetic screw tray comes in handy). Once you’ve got just the plastic pieces left over, you’re able to start cleaning.

Step 2: Clean the Plastic Thoroughly

Again, this step will differ a touch counting on what you’re cleaning, but generally, I’ve found that a radical cleaning of the plastic contains two or three steps.

First, clean any dust, hair, and dirt off the plastic with plain ol’ water. I prefer to offer mine a pleasant spray with the hose, which helps get the small cracks, grooves, and vents altogether. Dry it off with a rag when you’re done. (You also can wipe it down with a wet rag if you’d prefer not to spray it with the hose—like if there are some internals you couldn’t dismantle).

Once the plastic is dry, you’ll probably find that there’s still tons of grime thereon, not to mention scuff marks and other blemishes. to wash that off, I like to recommend taking a rag and a few denatured or isopropanol and putting some effort into it. Tons of the grime and scuffs should come right off, while others may have some serious rubbing. confirm you stand back from lettering and other painted-on graphics because the alcohol will damage them! (For example, the red lettering on the front of an ingenious Nintendo system will rub right off with alcohol.)

You may find, even after your arm is sore from rubbing with alcohol, that some scuff marks don’t come off. During this case, I often address the Mr Clean Magic Eraser. It’ll nearly always get that scuff marks out, but note that it’s an abrasive—which means it’s going to remove some texture and finish from the gadget. If that worries you, you’ll skip this step. Myself, I’d rather risk a rather shinier spot on the plastic than check out black scuff marks. It’s up to you. Just make certain to start lightly and rub harder as long as you would like to.

Step 3: Apply the Retr0bright

Once your device is clean of all other dirt and dirt, it’s time to show our attention to those pesky Bromides. Enter Retr0bright. You’ll need ample sunlight, for this is a part of the method, so I like to recommend getting started early within the morning, so you’ll get the maximum amount of time within the sun as possible—otherwise, you’ll need to roll in the hay a second day. However, you’ll want to try to do this first part in your garage or another enclosed area. Therefore the breeze doesn’t blow the cling wrap around while you’re trying to figure.

First, I prefer to hide any labels with Scotch tape to guard them (especially the paper ones, which can disintegrate when soaking in liquid or cream). If there are any painted-on letters, you’ll want to avoid those pieces because the Retr0bright can fade or damage them. Generally, I like to recommend only Retr0brighting the Very light plastic pieces—smaller buttons or darker coloured plastics are probably fine as-is.

Next, after putting on your gloves and safety goggles, lay out your cling wrap—you may have multiple pieces if your gadget is big since it must cover it completely—and pour a number of the Retr0bright on the cling wrap. Spread it around together with your brush, then pour the Retr0bright on the plastic. Brush it around also. Don’t be afraid to use tons of cream, as you would like to cover every inch of the yellowed plastic liberally. (You can even do the within if it’s yellowed, though, which will not be necessary on some parts.)

Then, put the plastic piece on the cling wrap and wrap it up. The thought is to seal it up nice, so you’ll keep the Retr0bright from evaporating, which can cause streaking. Again, full wrapping coverage is vital.

Repeat this process together with your other plastic pieces.

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Step 4: Leave It In the Sun, Rotate and Re-Apply Regularly

Once your plastic parts are all bound up, put them call at direct sunlight (or under your UV bulb). UV exposure may have caused this mess, but it’s also the key ingredient that will help us clean it up. You’ll want to go away it out there for a couple of hours, so find a spot that gets direct sunlight for many of the days if you’ll.

Here’s the important part: attempt to compute as many of the air bubbles as you’ll and spread the cream evenly. Then, rotate the pieces 90 degrees every half hour, and (with your gloves on) massage the Retr0bright round the plastic from outside the cling wrap. This keeps it travelling and stops air bubbles from staying in one place for too long, which is how you get a blotchy, streaky finish. If you don’t do that, you’ll get bad results!

Lastly, it’s best to rinse the parts off (see subsequent step) and re-apply a replacement coat after the creme starts to seem more sort of foam, usually, after two to 3 hours, counting on how hot and sunny it’s. This keeps the Retr0bright from drying out and causing blooming/streaking.

It sounds tedious, but it’s well well worth the effort. After six to nine hours, you ought to see a clear improvement, though you’ll be ready to get by with less if your plastic was only a touch yellow.

Step 5: Rinse It Off, and Repeat If Necessary

Once the plastic seems like it’s sparkly white again (or if you run out of sunlight), unwrap the pieces and rinse them off, either with a hose or during a sink (far faraway from food). You’ll likely get to rub excess Retr0bright off the plastic since it’ll be pretty thick and foamy and stuck on there, so wear your gloves and provides it with an honest, long massage under the water. Make certain to urge the small cracks and crevices altogether because the Retr0bright will certainly grind to a halt in those areas, and you’ll get to scrub it out.

You can dry the plastic off with a rag if you would like now or leave it to drip dry. Once it’s dry, you ought to find that it’s far better than before!

If, however, you discover that it’s still yellower than you’d like, be happy to repeat the method the subsequent day. Some yellow plastics may have a couple of days within the sun to whiten up. My Super Nintendo, for instance, looked better after seven hours:

But the rock bottom piece needed a whopping 24 hours within the sun to revisit to where it should be. It had been tons of labour, and that I did get some blotchiness on rock bottom from not re-applying often enough. It isn’t perfect, but overall it’s way better than it did before:

So keep doing it until you get the results you would like.

Once you’ve thoroughly rinsed and dried your plastic and you’re proud of the results, you’re all done! Re-assemble your gadget, and it’ll be a bit like the day you purchased it, fresh and white from the factory. Remember, it’ll re-yellow after some time—even if it’s kept during a dark area since those free bromides are already loose deep within the plastic—but you’ll always undergo this process again if it gets too yellow for you.


I hope you found this guide useful. If you’ve got any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to use the shape below. 

User Questions:

  1. Why is the obvious case yellow?

Why Do Phone Cases Turn Yellow? Clear phone cases are normally made up of silicone, a popular polymer for its inexpensive and versatile properties. Unfortunately, these polymers turn yellow as they age. This natural action is accelerated once they are exposed to excessive amounts of chemicals, light and warmth.

  1. Does CASETiFY turn yellow?

Do CASETiFY clear phone cases turn yellow easily? Our clear case is formed from TPU, a durable and malleable cloth, so they’re easy to suit and offer high protection. The extent of yellowing completely depends on user habits and, therefore, the environments during which the phone case is employed.

  1. Does Apple clear case turn yellow?

With Apple’s Clear Case, yellowing is a smaller element, although it still happens over time. After a few year’s usages, most of the iPhone XR Clear Case has maintained its optical clarity, but certain parts of the case, mostly round the buttons, have adopted a small yellow pigment.

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  1. How do I clean a dirty ass super Nintendo without screwing it up?

How do i clean a dirty ass super nintendo without screwing it up? from retrogaming

  1. How to remove yellowing from retro consoles/pc WITHOUT Retrobright and NO costs

Tutorial: How to remove yellowing from retro consoles/pc WITHOUT Retrobright and NO costs from retrogaming