How To Clean Yellowed Plastic

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Most people advertise plastic for its durability and ability to last for years, but will you still consider keeping that plastic container if it turns yellow? Yellowed plastic is not a rare occurrence, especially in households- and mostly, it leads to one result, which is throwing away the discolored item.

Well, no more! Why would you get rid of a container in perfect condition just because it is discolored and yellowed when you can clean it? Following a few steps and using household ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, and lime, you can have a shiny clean plastic container in no time.


Why Does Plastic Turn Yellow?

Before we get on with how to clean yellowed plastic, let us first understand some of the reasons why it turns yellow in the first place. While the most common substances that cause such problem is food and drinks, there are still other causes why your favorite plastic container has turned yellow over time. Here are two leading causes;

Chemical Reaction: When you store food or drink with an acidic content in a plastic container, the acids react with the plastic and cause it to discolor. The best way to examine how acidic your food is before you store it in a plastic container is by immersing a cotton swab inside and seeing if there is any change in color.

Microwave Plastics: Some of these plastics will cause a chemical reaction if they are put in the microwave. These days, dishes and containers that have a label specifically meant for microwaves should not be used on any other ovens.

How To Clean Yellowed Plastic

There are six methods to remove the yellowness from plastic at home; however, some of them are cost-effective and easy to conduct, while others can be a task, depending on how bad the staining is. Read through to find out which method works best for you!

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Cleaning Yellowed Plastic Using Vinegar And Water

Vinegar is a popular home ingredient with many beneficial uses- one of them being removing yellowing from plastic items. Here are some of the steps you can use to clean your yellowed plastic with vinegar;

Step 1– Mix equal parts of water and vinegar to make a solution. If the discolored plastic area is within a cup or some other container, pour the mixture into it.

Step 2– If the yellowed plastic item cannot hold the solution, then mix water and vinegar in a bowl or bucket, then soak the item in it for upwards of half an hour.

Step 3– Keep rotating the container to cover the entire area or press it down with weight.

Step 4– After a few hours, remove it and clean it with a nylon scrub brush. Rinse and dry it entirely afterward.

Cleaning Yellowed Plastic Using Salt And Baking Soda

If vinegar is not the solution for your discolored plastic, try using salt and baking soda to see great results. Both of these items can be readily found in your house, and here are some of the steps you can follow to see satisfactory results;

Step 1– Mix a ¼ cup of water and one tablespoon each of salt and baking soda into a thick paste and spread it over the area that needs to be cleaned.

Step 2– Use a toothbrush, small paintbrush, or sponge to scrub the plastic surface gently so as not to damage its integrity.

Step 3– Let the mixture sit on the discolored spot for up to an hour so that it can thoroughly cleanse the stain.

Step 4– Rinse the spot with water and dry it well

Cleaning Yellowed Plastic Using Alka Seltzer tabs

For those of you who don’t know what Alka Seltzer tabs are, they are effervescent antacid tablets that contain citric acid, baking soda, and aspirin, among other ingredients. Here is how you can use them to clean your yellowed plastic;

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Step 1– Crush 2 Alka Seltzer tabs into powder form and add it to ½ cup of hot water in a container.

Step 2– Soak the plastic in this solution if the yellowness is on the outside and if it is on the inside, then pour this solution into it.

Step 3– After half an hour or so, rinse it with soap and water, then dry it well to remove any residue.

Cleaning Yellowed Plastic Using Bleach

Bleach, just like dish soap and laundry liquid, is known to remove stains from fabric, but it works equally well on plastic as well. Here is how you can use them to clean your discolored plastic;

Step 1– Mix a tablespoon of bleach and a gallon of water in a large bucket to make the solution so that the item is fully covered when you dip it in.

Step 2– Let the discolored plastic item soak in it for an hour or more, depending on how yellowed it is.

Step 3– Rinse it well with soap water to remove any remaining bleach solution and dry it before using it again.

Cleaning Yellowed Plastic Using Lemon Juice and Sunlight

The acidity of lemon combined with the intense sun rays will bleach the plastic item to its clean state, in no time. Here are some of the steps you can follow to use this method;

Step 1– Cut a lemon in half and rub it on the yellowed area, letting the juice do its magic on the stain.

Step 2– Set it in direct sunlight for some hours or even a day if the discoloration is pretty bad.

Step 3– Then, soak the clean portion in water for about an hour before rinsing it with soap and water to ensure nothing is left inside.

Cleaning Yellowed Plastic Using Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical that is naturally found in our body and used by the medical field for various purposes. And it also works great when cleaning yellowed plastic, which you can see for yourself if you follow these steps;

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Step 1– Mix 2 cups of hydrogen peroxide with ½ cup each of water into a bucket to make the solution.

Step 2– Soak the discolored plastic items you want to clean in this solution and let them sit there for a couple of hours.

Step 3– Rinse the solution off with soapy water, then dry it well before use.


If you’re suffering to clean your plastic containers to make them look presentable, these methods are right here to be your lifesaver. Not only can you stop throwing out yellowed plastic items but make them much cleaner and more presentable by following these simple steps.

Written by bros

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