Restore discolored computer parts to like-new with Retr0Bright

Retr0Bright (a homemade hydrogen peroxide solution) can be used to remove the yellow discoloration from old, plastic computer parts.

Although his vintage Apple computer worked, the external plastic on James Wages' Macintosh SE/30 had turned a dingy shade of yellow. But using a concoction of household chemicals, nicknamed "Retr0Bright," Wages was restored the plastic on the computer, keyboard, and mouse to like-new condition.

Wages documented the restoration process on his Flickr photostream and graciously allowed TechRepublic to republish the photos. The photo below shows the difference between a restored section of plastic (the back of this Macintosh SE/30) and an untouched section (the front housing around the screen and 20SC hard drive). Click the photo to see the entire gallery.

Photo by James Wages

Photo by James Wages

What is Retr0Bright?

Developed by chemists and vintage computer enthusiasts in 2008, Retr0Bright is a solution of hydrogen peroxide and an "active oxygen" laundry booster. When combined with exposure to UV light, either from a lamp or the sun, this concoction can remove the yellowing from old ABS plastic computer parts. To make a gel version of the solution, you can use a thickening agent, such as Xanthan Gum and Glycerin, cornstarch, or arrowroot.

For a detailed description of how Retr0Bright works and a list of various recipes, check out the Retr0Bright Project Wiki.

Warning! Hydrogen peroxide can be dangerous--particularly in high concentrations. You should always wear appropriate hand and eye protection when making and working with Retr0Bright. Please read and follow the safety instructions listed on the Retr0Bright Wiki.

By Bill Detwiler

Bill Detwiler is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the ...