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Yellow Plastic: Cleaning Techniques That Actually Work

Warming up colored food in plastic containers is actually the worst. You'll notice instantly that the heat discolors your plastic, and if not washed immediately it will leave a stain. The discoloration will most likely cause you to throw it away. But what if we told you there's a way to clean it? In fact, there are ways to clean many different types of yellowed plastic (including acrylic and ABS plastic!) and the procedure is super easy. Here are some cleaning tips to bookmark.

Yellowed Plastic Containers

Baking soda is your best friend in the kitchen. It has so many uses! One in particular is being a great cleaning agent for plastic containers. All it takes is a little water mixed with baking soda to create a paste. Apply this paste to the container and let it sit for a couple of hours, before spritzing with lemon juice, washing with warm water, and drying as normal.

If you're stretched for time, two cups of vinegar, water, and dish soap should do the trick. Soak your containers for about 20 minutes and then scrub or toothbrush away the stains with soapy water. Rinse, wash, and voila. Vinegar can be kept in a spray bottle for easy access when your plastic turns colors.

Yellowing Kitchen Appliances

White appliances are super trendy. The farmhouse look is the way to go, thanks to Joanna Gaines! If that describes your kitchen, you know that it's also very tedious to keep your white appliances fresh and clean everyday. Sometimes you'll miss a spot, which will force some home improvement on your part. Skip the cleaning products and try making a vinegar soak instead.

This will only work on smaller appliances, but is still a great solution to revitalize yellowed appliances. "Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water and fill a container with your solution. Then, place your appliance into the solution until the stained or yellowed part is totally submerged. If you can't get your whole item submerged, check on it and turn it over during its soaking time," Annie at Hunker shares. Leave overnight and wash with soap and water.

If that doesn't work, go back to the handy dandy baking soda. Baking soda is the ultimate DIY stain removal when you want to clean yellowed plastic. Bleach solutions can be too harsh and Bromine or cream peroxide might involve a little more Chemistry than you're willing to mess with. With baking soda, you can have anything and everything back to white plastic in no time, and without the fuss of harsh chemicals.

If none of the greener solutions work, your very last resort should be bleaching. This will also work for larger appliances that aren't in direct contact with food. First you need to dilute it because hydrogen peroxide is too strong on its own. "A ratio of 1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 cup of water should be ideal. Wearing gloves, wipe this mixture over your yellowed plastic. Leave for a few moments, then wipe away with water." Don't forget to put on some rubber gloves before handling and wash your hands thoroughly after dealing with any chemicals.

Yellowed Retro Products

A lot of retro items were made out of plastic. And throughout the years, after being exposed to direct sunlight or UV light, these products have turned to yellow plastic. It's a risk but "a few years ago, some enterprising and chemistry-savvy forum users discovered that hydrogen peroxide could help remove these free bromides from the plastic, restoring the original white color. It isn't permanent, unfortunately, since there are still free bromides deep in the plastic that can re-surface after another few years." They ended up calling the formula Retrobright, and it's a favorite for retro game console restoration.

There's an entire tutorial on it, seeing as older gadgets and their plastic parts and plastic pieces need to be handled with care. It may not remove the stains entirely, but you'll definitely see a whitening effect.

Hot Tip: How To Remove Smaller Marks

Rubbing alcohol with a paper towel or magic eraser are the only removers you need to remove a small scuff from plastic. They truly are "magical."

Everyone should know how to clean yellowed plastic. What tips do you have for renewing your old plastic?