How to Clean Yellowed Plastic Solar Lights?

If your solar lights have been outside for a while, then you might have noticed that their plastic components aren’t as pristine as they were. In fact, they may now be a yellowish color, making them visually unappealing.

I found out that this is due to a process called oxidation which is common for plastic exposed to the elements such as my plastic garden solar lights. I also found out that not only are they unsightly, they can also compromise the structural integrity of the lights, greatly shortening their lifespan.

Thankfully, restoring them to their former glory is easy as pie. Check out how to clean yellowed plastic solar lights in the tutorial below.

What You Will Need

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Before we get into the process of removing the yellow stains, let us first enumerate the things we will need for this tutorial.

  • Cloth (2 pcs)
  • Sponge
  • Dish soap (a few drops)
  • Regular 3% hydrogen peroxide (1 gallon)
  • Oxy laundry booster (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Bowl of water
  • Another bowl for the peroxide or the same bowl without the water
  • Rubber gloves (1 pair)
  • UV light or sunlight
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic wrap (optional)
  • Tape (optional)

Now that we have that clear, let’s move on to the tutorial itself.

Restoring Your Yellowed Plastic Solar Lights

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Part 1: Cleaning the Surface of Your Lights

Before we remove the stains, we first need to clean your solar lights first of any accumulated dirt and debris.

  1. Wipe it with a dry cloth. Remove any loose dust or debris with a soft but dry cloth.
  2. Dip your sponge in soapy water and wipe the plastic again. Make sure to wring out most of the water before doing so to avoid getting water inside the lights.
  3. Repeat the cleaning process. Rinse the sponge and repeat the above step.
  4. Pat it dry with a dry cloth. You can also allow it to air-dry or if you’re in a hurry, use another dry soft cloth to pat it dry.

Cleaning your lights before you remove the stains ensures that there are no small debris or dust that can damage the surface of your solar lights.

Part 2: Removing the Yellow Stained Appearance

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Once the surface of your lights is clean, you can now move on to removing the yellow stained appearance of your lights.

  1. Safety first. Take the necessary safety precautions and wear your rubber gloves before handling anything. This is to prevent the peroxide from irritating your skin or causing an allergic reaction. It is, after all, still a chemical.
  2. Fill your bowl with the hydrogen peroxide. Once you have taken the necessary safety precautions, you can now pour the hydrogen peroxide onto your bowl.
  3. Add ¼ teaspoon of your oxygenated laundry booster per gallon of peroxide. Make sure you stick to this ratio as there might be negative chemical reactions should the ratio be off.
  4. Wet your paper towel with the solution. Wet enough paper towels to cover the area you want to restore. Make sure that the paper towels are wrung out of any excess solution.
  5. Flatten the paper towels and press them against your surface. The towels should stick on their own but you can use the plastic wrap and tape it in place if it doesn’t.
  6. Keep it soaked for several hours under UV light/sunlight. Depending on just how stained your plastic lights are, the soaking time will vary. The average is around 2 to 6 hours and the solution itself is viable for up to 4 days before needing replacement. The UV light or sunlight can help speed up the whitening process.
  7. Remove and rinse once it reaches the desired result. Make sure to remove any residual cleaning product on your lights by rinsing or wiping it carefully with a damp cloth or sponge. Should this not be enough, you can wash it with soapy water. Be careful not to get water inside as this can lead to electrical problems.

Conclusion

Did you enjoy this tutorial? Cleaning yellowed plastic solar lights is an important part of its maintenance and because I want my own set of lights to last a long time, I make sure to keep up with its cleaning to avoid excessive oxygenation once more.

What about you? Did you try it? Was it effective? Let me know the results in the comments and if it was effective, please feel free to share the knowledge with your family and friends.

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