What Is RetroBrite? How to Whiten Your Old Computer

Last Updated on January 10, 2024

If your old computer is looking brown rather than beige, you might be looking for a way to freshen it up. Perhaps you’ve heard of retrobrite, and need to know more about it.

As a method for “whitening” an old piece of discoloured plastic, retrobrite is a popular solution. Here’s everything you need to know about how to use retrobrite and make your old computer less yellow, closer to the colour it was when it left the factory

What is retrobrite?

Retrobrite is a powerful cleaning agent that has been gaining popularity among vintage computer enthusiasts. It is an effective solution for restoring the yellowed plastic casings of old computers and electronic devices back to their original, bright colors.

It will also work on old toys, as demonstrated by the website dedicated to retrobriting.

Old computers are a fascinating slice of technology history, but as they age, their plastic casings can turn yellow or brown over time. This phenomenon is commonly known as “yellowing,” and it can be caused by exposure to UV light and heat. While this may not affect the functionality of the computer, it can certainly affect its appearance, making it appear dirty and aged – not exactly ideal for display purposes.

Retrobrite is essentially a mix of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and a UV light source. Hydrogen peroxide is a powerful oxidizing agent that breaks down the chemical bonds that cause the yellowing. This solution is then activated by exposure to UV light, which further speeds up the process.

How to retrobrite your old console or computer

To use retrobrite on an old computer, there are a few things you’ll need to get started. For optimal results, it is recommended that you disassemble the computer and remove all plastic parts that need to be restored. You’ll also need a small container for the retrobrite solution, gloves, a brush, and a UV light source.

Once you have everything prepared, mix the retrobrite solution by adding hydrogen peroxide to the container. It is recommended to use a concentration of about 12% hydrogen peroxide. Be sure to wear gloves during the mixing process, as hydrogen peroxide can be irritating to the skin.

Next, apply the retrobrite solution to the plastic parts using a brush. Be sure to cover the entire surface evenly. Place the plastic parts on a flat surface and set up your UV light source over them. Generally, around six hours is enough to restore the original color; however, the duration depends on how yellowed the plastic is and the intensity of the UV light source.

After the exposure time is up, rinse the plastic parts gently with water and let them dry thoroughly. It’s important to be gentle when handling the parts at this stage since the plastic may still be vulnerable and brittle. After the plastic is completely dry, you can reassemble your computer.

Use retrobrite with caution

When done correctly, retrobrite can yield fantastic results, bringing washed-out colors back to their original hues. However, there are a few things to be cautious of as you use retrobrite. Firstly, it’s crucial not to expose your eyes and skin to the concentrated hydrogen peroxide. It can also be incredibly corrosive, so be sure to mix it up and use it in a well-ventilated area.

If the plastic stays in the retrobrite solution for too long, it can become brittle. This is why using a lower concentration of hydrogen peroxide and cutting back on the time the plastic parts are exposed to the UV light source is typically the best approach.

It’s crucial not to expose your eyes and skin to the concentrated hydrogen peroxide as it can be incredibly corrosive.

Retrobrite can be a great solution for restoring the casings of old computers. But while it works wonders on the yellowed plastic, it’s important to remember that it’s not a fix-all solution. Some materials may respond better than others, and it may not work on plastics that have already been exposed to severe damage from years of wear and tear. So it’s essential to keep your expectations realistic.

Retrobrite is a highly effective way to restore the bright colors of old computers and electronic devices. It can take a little bit of time and finesse to use properly, but the results are well worth it. If you have an old computer that’s looking tired and washed out, knowing how to use retrobrite could bring it back to its former glory. Just remember, always use caution and care when working with the chemicals involved.

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