Home bathroom and sanitaryWhite plastic yellowed - so you can clean plastic

White plastic yellowed - so you can clean plastic

  • Material and preparation
  • cleaning instructions
  • Prevention - protect plastic
    • Tips
  • Gentle cleaning
  • Conclusion

White plastic yellows for quite different reasons and looks in the connection dirty and old. But with a few simple steps and helpful tips, yellowed plastic turns white again, whether it's visible deposits of nicotine or other stains and age-related traces.

In bathrooms and kitchens, in the living room and in the hallway, white light switches are not uncommon. This is glossy or matte plastic that turns yellow over time and has a dirty surface. In contrast to the widespread opinion that yellowing sockets, light switches or other things made of plastic to deeper yellowing, the pollution deposits with regular cleaning and care primarily on the surface.

If white plastic is periodically cleaned and freed from these deposits, it never yellows properly and will retain its gloss and white surface for many years. Even in smoking households you do not have to live with yellowish-brown light switches and Co., if you stick to the cleaning intervals and considers that the regular care is necessary and that white plastic is relatively easy to clean. For serious traces that occur in the absence of cleaning over several years, you can counteract the exchange by a deep cleaning with any grinding of the surface and use a special plastic eraser.

Material and preparation

Depending on the degree of soiling, it is helpful to buy a dirt eraser in advance and optionally to provide soda, vinegar or lemon, toothpaste, a clean rag and a bucket of lukewarm water. For sockets and light switches, make sure that they are disconnected from the circuit and removed before extensive cleaning. A cleaning on the wall would leave not only unsightly stains on the surrounding wallpaper, but possibly also damage in the electrical system. White plastic as a surface of furniture or garden chairs, garden tables or decorative accessories in the household is cleaned on the same principle and with the same auxiliary and cleaning agents. Below is a list of all materials and ways in which white plastic gets back its natural and clean appearance and is freed of coarse dirt.

You need this:

  • Plastic cleaner / alternatively soda, lemon or vinegar
  • a dirt eraser for stubborn stains
  • a bucket of warm water and a soft cloth, at best microfiber
  • nourishing oil for post-treatment

Special plastic cleaner or lemon and vinegar you can apply without a prior check and be sure that you remove only the pollution and not the shine. The situation is different with toothpaste or soda, or with the application of a dirt eraser. Here it is advisable to try the cleaning in a small and hidden place and to find out whether the surface is damaged by the use of these aids and may lose their shine. Before you start removing nicotine or other contaminants, clean the surface with plain detergent water and then dry thoroughly.


cleaning instructions

White plastic gets clean again step by step

1. With a little detergent, warm water and a clean lint-free cloth, clean the surfaces generously.

2. If you want to remove dirt from sockets or light switches, you should remove the removable and visible components in advance and clean them on the floor or a table.

3. Test the chosen cleaner in a location you would not see if the surface was damaged.

4. Be sure to wear gloves when using chemical cleaners or when using vinegar and lemon.

5. Apply even coverage of the tool over the entire surface and wipe across the surface in rapid circling motion.

6. Repeat the process until the surface is bright white again. For stubborn dirt, multiple cleaning may be necessary.

7. Then clean the surface with lukewarm water and completely remove the residues of the cleaning agents. Otherwise, sharp or acidic cleaners would create a dull and visibly rough surface.

For very stubborn stains, it is advisable to use a dirt eraser. However, if the surface is glossy and very smooth, roughening may occur during this treatment. In this case, you should consider in advance whether you want to machine the surface evenly with the eraser, or after that apply a coating to restore the gloss. Direct sanding is discouraged, as the workload is very high and replacement of the article is often cheaper. Especially with light switches and sockets you should not grind, because the method not only affects the appearance but also the feel.

Prevention - protect plastic

Surely you will not give up the cigarette in favor of white surfaces if you live as a smoker and consider the enjoyment of an occasional cigarette as a quality of life. But not only in smoker households, but also through the influences of time, white plastic can turn yellow and look rather dirty. It is important that you not only pay much attention to cleaning but also a certain amount of time. It is best to clean white plastic surfaces at least once a month, as this interval will prevent complete yellowing with deep-seated marks.


1. White garden furniture should be parked when not in use far away from the sunlight and ensure that the UV radiation does not lead to yellowing.

2. Light switches, sockets and Co. clean once a month with a damp cloth with detergent and a dash of vinegar.

3. Eliminate the effects of weathering on the plastic surfaces and store your outdoor furniture indoors, in the basement or in a shed in winter, and cover the surfaces with foil.

4. Avoid the use of scouring cream or other roughening substances!

Prevention is the best protection in terms of yellow spots or visible traces on plastic surfaces. With outdoor furniture, you can avoid the problem by regularly cleaning the furniture and then treating it with a nourishing oil-based polish. In order not to have any oily stains on the clothing, you should clean the surface with a dry cloth and clean it of oil before using it again.

Despite all care and regularity in the care, it can not be avoided in principle that white plastic turns yellow and in the long run no longer looks attractive and clean. In this case, you can take home remedies and with lemon, with vinegar or with soda and baking powder manage. In most cases, chemical plastic cleaners have to be used, as they do not generate cleanliness in comparison with home remedies and a little patience and do not minimize the time required for cleaning.

Gentle cleaning

Do not clean plastic with rough tools!

Rough-faced kitchen sponges or hard rags and towels are unsuitable for cleaning plastic. The use of hard tools leads to visible scratches on the surface, in which even more dirt settles and penetrates under the protective layer.

A soft sponge or a cloth made of microfiber is ideal if white plastic is to remain white in the long term and not damaged in its feel. Most plastic surfaces are shiny and have no visible pores. Here, the cleaning is particularly easy, provided you do without rough cloths and Co. and soft materials used for cleaning.

When using lemon or vinegar you should try in advance in a small place, if the home remedy dulls the surface and therefore is not suitable for cleaning.

For polishing and dusting, use a lint-free cloth and use it dry. With this method you prevent the attraction of the surfaces and ensure that dust and dirt do not adhere to the substrate. The cleaning of the surfaces is inexpensive and easy, if it does not even yellowing and thus a strong contamination. For example, anyone who moves into a new apartment and has to clean the sockets from the deposits of the previous tenant, will often face a challenge and make acquaintance with the proverbial "Gilb". Home remedies, a dirt eraser or a special plastic cleaner can be effective here and avoid the replacement of objects.


White plastic is not only attractive when buying. In order to prevent yellowing, great importance is attached to the regular cleaning of the surfaces. Not only nicotine, but also weather influences and the signs of the time leave traces on plastic surfaces. To prevent the large-scale cleaning and prevent deep-seated contamination in advance, white plastic should be cleaned at least once a month. In this case, dishwashing liquid and fresh warm water are perfectly adequate, since the dirt settles only on the surface and not in the depths of the material. White plastic does not pollute faster than gray, brown or beige plastic. But the pollution becomes visually clearer faster, especially if there is also a white context to the surface. In front of a white wall a yellowed outlet attracts attention and in the snow you can see that the garden chair was influenced and darkened by the UV light. Since prevention is the best way to combat yellowed white surfaces, you should pay close attention to interval cleaning, thus avoiding the depth effect of contamination. White plastic can impress with radiant beauty over many years without visible traces of use and dirt.

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