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How do I get yellowed appliances white again? For example, the cover of bathroom vent/fans and smoke detectors?
Karen from WI
Yellowed plastics can be renewed by coating them in a pastey form of hydrogen peroxide and exposing it to ultraviolet light, either an indoor source you buy (UVA bulb)and set up or simply direct sunlight. Regular hydrogen peroxide solution you get at the grocery store is really weak and very liquidy leading to lots of wasted solution.. A stronger and not too drippy alternative is hydrogen peroxide hair dye developer which can be cheaply acquired at a drug store and stays where you put it on the plastic.
You can't use this on anything where you aren't able to remove the plastic parts from other electronic or electric parts.
Remember the key is ultraviolet light exposure after application of the hydrogen peroxide.
Do this with appropriate gloves, eye protection and ventilation.
Rinse well after treatment.
For an awesome explanation of this process on an old famicom see: http://www.retr ed-plastics.html
First, take them down and clean them really well.
Try soaking in bleach water.
If the plastic is yellow from age, sun or heat exposure , and has become brittle or crumbly, there's not much you can do without chemically melting & reforming the plastic. (you don't want to do this. ever.)
Like the previous poster said, you CAN paint it, but make sure you use a plastic-bonding paint (like Krylon Fusion) or it'll unevenly flake off and look bad. But if the yellowing is only on the surface, and is due to chemicals (aerosol, hair spray, cleaner fumes) smoke, or dirt, you can clean it with bleach & water.
Also, yellowing or clouding on some acrylic or more expensive items can be buffed with a super-fine steel wool or polishing compound to make them clear. Exampels would be those expensive room light covers and car headlight covers. Be careful to spot check, and use the finest abrasive you can find, though, 'cos these things scratch.
Editors Note: This is a product that is marketed for marine, RV and auto use.