How to Clean Yellowed Plastic

By Nina Roman

In many households, yellowed plastic items can be found, such as bathroom shower curtains, old toys, or kitchen equipment. The typical response might be to discard them, assuming they are no longer useful. However, this approach can be wasteful and environmentally harmful, given that the plastic is still in working condition. But don’t worry, we have a solution for to clean yellowed plastic

Here are 7 ways you can clean yellowed plastic back to its original color.

Plastic Often Undergoes a Yellowing Process. What Triggers This Change?

Over time, white plastic may develop a yellowish tint due to chemical reactions caused by exposure to sunlight, oils, and other factors. Fortunately, there are several approaches to address this discoloration, depending on the scale of the project and the resources at hand. While some methods are straightforward and budget-friendly, others may require more effort with limited results.

When it comes to cleaning yellowed plastic, there are several effective scrubbing methods you can utilize. Each method tackles the discoloration using different ingredients and techniques. Let’s explore them in detail


Using salt to clean yellowed plastic is a simple yet effective approach. Start by dampening a cloth or towel and sprinkle some salt onto the stained area. Gently rub the salt into the plastic, focusing on the discolored spot. As you continue to rub, you’ll notice the stain gradually fading away. Make sure to absorb any excess water with a cloth or towel. Keep rubbing until the spot completely disappears, revealing a refreshed appearance.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is known for its versatile cleaning properties, making it an excellent choice for tackling yellowed plastic. To create a baking soda paste, mix baking soda with water in a cup or similar container until the solution forms a thick paste. Apply the paste to the yellowed plastic, ensuring it covers the entire affected area. Allow the paste to sit on the plastic for several hours, giving it enough time to work its magic. Afterward, use a sponge or rag to scrub off the baking soda paste, applying gentle pressure. Once the paste is removed, rinse the plastic thoroughly to reveal a revitalized look.

Lemon Juice and Sunlight

Combining the power of lemon juice and sunlight can be an effective method for removing yellow stains from plastic. Start by cutting a fresh lemon in half. Take one of the lemon halves and rub it over the yellowed plastic, ensuring the juice covers the affected area.

The natural acidity of the lemon juice helps to break down the discoloration. Once the plastic is thoroughly coated with lemon juice, place it outside in direct sunlight for several hours. Ideally, leave it exposed to the sun for an entire day to maximize the stain-removing effects.

The sunlight, along with the lemon juice, works together to lighten and remove the yellow stains from the plastic.

After employing any of these methods, it’s essential to give the plastic a final wash. Use warm water and soap or an all-purpose cleaning solution to thoroughly clean the plastic, removing any residue that may have accumulated on the surface. In the event that stubborn stains persist, you can try using a gentle abrasive with water to help eliminate them, ensuring your plastic items regain their pristine appearance.

Hydrogen Peroxide

To restore yellowed plastic, you can employ a simple technique involving hydrogen peroxide. Follow these steps: Place the plastic item inside a plastic bag and ensure there is enough hydrogen peroxide to fully cover it (adjust the quantity based on the object’s size). Leave the bag exposed to direct sunlight for approximately three to four hours. Subsequently, rinse off the hydrogen peroxide solution with clean water. By following this method, you can rejuvenate the plastic and achieve a refreshed appearance akin to its original condition.

Rubbing Alcohol

When dealing with yellowing stains on a plastic container, rubbing alcohol can be a useful cleaning solution. If the container can hold liquid, pour rubbing alcohol directly into it and allow it to sit for a few minutes. In cases where the container cannot hold liquid, pour the rubbing alcohol into a separate container and place the plastic container inside. After the designated time, remove the plastic container from the alcohol bath. To eliminate any alcohol residue, rinse the container under running water from the tap. This ensures a thorough cleaning and a stain-free plastic container.

Alka Seltzer Tablets

To reduce discoloration on white plastic containers that have become stained from repeated use, a straightforward method is to soak them in a mixture of hot water and denture tablets. Here’s how to do it:

Dissolve the denture tablets in a bowl of hot water until they completely dissolve.

Once the tablets are dissolved, pour the mixture into the stained plastic containers or directly onto the stains, ensuring they are fully submerged. Allow the containers to soak for approximately 30 minutes.

After the soaking time, rinse the containers with soap and water to remove any residue from the denture tablet mixture.

Thoroughly rinse the plastic containers under running water to eliminate any liquid or residue. Ensure there is no soap or food residue left on the containers. Use warm water and pour it over the stained area for effective rinsing. You can also use soap if desired.

If the above method doesn’t yield satisfactory results, you can try an alternative solution. Instead of using a liquid mixture, you can dry rub the stains on the plastic containers. Dry rubbing can be more effective for stubborn stains.

Bleach for Yellowed Plastic

When dealing with yellowed plastic, such as electronic parts, bleach can be an effective solution. To begin, remove the yellowed plastic parts. Fill a sink or container with a mixture of water and bleach, using an 8:1 ratio of water to bleach. It is important to wear gloves to protect your hands during the process.

Submerge the plastic in the bleach solution, ensuring it is fully covered. Allow the plastic to soak in the solution until it returns to a white color, which may take some time depending on the severity of the yellowing.

Once the plastic has become white again, remove it from the bleach solution. Wash the plastic with mild soap to remove any remaining bleach residue, and then rinse it thoroughly with water. Taking these steps will help you effectively use bleach to restore yellowed plastic to its original white appearance.