Have you noticed many white or light colored plastic appliances become prone to going an unsightly yellow color after time? Baffled as to how? This article explains why plastic appliances go yellow after a while and what you can do to restore them to their original color.
There may be affiliate links in this article. You can read more about this in my disclosure.
Why Do Appliances Go Yellow?
The most common cause of yellowing appliances is exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun which react with the chemicals inside the plastic and cause them to yellow in color.
Other possible causes of yellowing appliances is exposure to high temperatures, humid or moist environments, or nicotine exposure over time. Is it possible to restore them to their original white or light color? Absolutely.
Here are the nine most effective ways to whiten yellowed plastic on appliances.
Rubbing alcohol is a popular and easy way to restore white items to their vibrant color. This includes appliances such as microwave walls, computer keyboards, coffee percolators, kettles, and fridges.
Here’s what to do:
- Pour the rubbing alcohol into a container or bowl and let it sit for a few minutes.
- Put on protective gloves or PPE to protect your skin from irritation.
- Rub the alcohol on the stained areas with a clean cloth of the product and let sit for up to an hour.
- Wipe over with a clean, damp cloth or a kitchen wipe.
Hydrogen peroxide is a popular liquid for removing stains from anything from clothing to teeth, so it will also work on your yellowing appliances. Here’s what to do:
- Coat the yellowed plastic in hydrogen peroxide using a clean cloth (if it is a big appliance like a microwave) and leave for an hour or so. If it is smaller:
- Put the plastic in a plastic bag with enough hydrogen peroxide to cover it entirely (ability to submerge depends on the size of the object), and leave it in direct sunlight for three to four hours.
- Rinse off the solution with clean water. Repeat if necessary.
Alka seltzers are great for removing stains from clothing and dentures, and should also be able to lift any yellowing from your plastic appliances. Here’s what to do:
- Place the alka seltzers or denture tablets into a bowl of hot water to let them dissolve.
- Once dissolved, pour the mixture into or onto the stained appliance and allow them to sit for about half an hour. Be mindful of spillages or burning your skin.
- Rinse the appliance with soap and water.
- If the appliance is electrical, apply the mix to a clean cloth or sponge and rub onto the stained areas, being mindful to not make contact with the plug area.
No products found.
Providing the staining is only mild, warm water mixed with salt and scrubbed with a cleaning brush or sponge may do the trick. If the staining is quite bad, create a salt rub with a clean, damp cloth and dab it into the salt and scrub the yellow areas.
This is one of the most effective methods for yellowing plastic. Here’s what to do:
- Create a baking soda paste and apply it to the yellowed plastic.
- Mix water and baking soda in a cup or similar container until the solution forms a paste, then apply it to the plastic and let it sit for several hours.
- Scrub the paste off with a sponge or rag, then rinse well.
Lemon Juice & Sunlight
While we’re aware that sunlight is the number one culprit for causing the staining in the first place, perhaps somewhat ironically, it can also be the end of it too – but only if the magic ingredient that is lemon is applied to the mix.
Lemon has magical bleaching properties, and when met with sunlight, can restore anything yellow back to white. Here’s what to do:
- First, take a fresh lemon and cut it in half. Then rub both halves over the affected plastic, leaving the juice to do its work.
- Set it outside for several hours, or ideally an entire day; during that time, the sun will help remove the yellow stains.
- Wash your plastic with warm water and soap or use an all-purpose cleaning solution to completely remove any residue that may have accumulated on the outside of the cup. If you can’t get rid of stains after using this method, try using a gentle abrasive (such as wire wool) with water to make them disappear.
Bleach & Warm Water
*Always wear PPE*
Bleach is a heavy, corrosive chemical, so this approach should be a last resort. Here’s what to do:
- Pour warm water into a bowl and add a capful of bleach.
- Wearing rubber gloves and using a sponge, rub the mix into the yellowing areas being mindful of any electrical elements (which should be unplugged).
- Leave the liquid coating on the yellowing plastic for around 10 – 15 minutes and then using a clean cloth, wipe clean with fresh, warm water.
- Repeat if necessary.
No products found.
Vinegar – particularly white vinegar – is a useful cleaning liquid that is less toxic and corrosive than products such as bleach or rubbing alcohol. Here’s what to do:
- Use 70% vinegar essence.
- Wear rubber gloves for protection before handling.
- Moisten a soft cloth with vinegar, wipe the yellow areas, rinse with water, and dry.
This includes your standard store-bought nail polish remover (however it must be an acetone-based one). Here’s what to do:
- Moisten a cotton pad or clean cloth (making sure to wear gloves)
- Clean the surface from yellow marks, trying not to leave streaks
- Leave the solution on as it will continue to gently penetrate the stain.
So, yellowing appliances doesn’t mean you need to fork out for a new appliance that is a nice white shade again. You can restore the item to its original white color – often by using products you may find under your kitchen sink or in the pantry.
Any electrical products should be unplugged and should not be submerged in any liquid cleaning solution. Instead the solution should be applied topically using a sponge or clean rag.
PPE is recommended to protect the skin from burns or irritation.
These solutions are most effective as soon as you start to notice the discoloration. The longer you leave it, the harder the staining will be to remove.
Last update on 2023-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API