I can do science!

I admit, this was one of those things that I had to do myself before I would accept that it would work.

Plastics used in domestic products are 'brominated'. By that, I mean they are impregnated with bromine to act as a fire retardant. The downside to this is that UV reacts with the bromine and causes it to discolour. White plastics, over time, usually go yellow. My grey Atari went yellowy green. It's not dirt or smoke (if you smoke), it's a chemical reaction.

This is where some clever person realised that the process could be reversed with hydrogen peroxide and UV, and Retrobrite was born!

Now rather than go into it fully I'll point you too a couple of resources on this to cover the basics.

Retrobrite Wiki
8-Bit Guy does Retrobrite

How I've done it is by buying in this lot.

What we have here is a pair of 25W UV fluorescent bulbs to go into my desk lamps, a box of latex gloves and a small tub of Bblonde 40 12% from Superdrug. Essentially the UK equivalent of the US hair product 8-Bit Guy uses in his video. The reason to use the hair product is that it's already in a creme format so there's no mixing to be done, you can just apply it out of the bottle.

UPDATE: Years of refining the process later, the UV lamps are not the way forward, it just takes way too long. Outside in the sun is the way to do it, which in the UK is a bit of an issue in itself, but it happens. So you've just got to wait for a sunny day. In the sunshine it can take as little as a couple of hours. So you've really got to keep an eye on it, move the spooge around and keep rotating the item to get an even coverage. Because relying on the sun can be an issue, some people have had a lot of success using powerful grow lamps indoors (go hunting for Jan Beta on YouTube).

The process is thus:

  • Dismantle the computer/console to get the parts you want to treat
  • Thoroughly clean the parts, wash them if necessary.
  • Coat them with Retrobrite. Use hands (wearing gloves), brushes, whatever works
  • Wrap them in cling film or put them in a sealable bag. This stops the Retrobrite from drying up
  • Put it out in the sun, rotating it occasionally to get even coverage
  • Once complete, unwrap and wash the plastics with plenty of water to remove the Retrobrite.

    UPADATE: A statement to some of the anti-retrobrite peeps. Doing it half-arsed is how most people end up ruining stuff. Not stripping and washing everything thoroughly before hand is hugely important. A nice even coating is important, keeping an eye on it, and washing it all off also. I've done several computers, full sets of key caps, peripherals. Where I've had instances where it's had no effect whatsoever, or the effect is mild, I've never ruined anything that's been done and some items are utterly transformed by it. As for it suddenly making the plastic brittle, I've never noticed that. A lot of old plastics become brittle with age regardless of smearing it in hair products.



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