Anybody Else Try Retrobright?

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Matchstick
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Anybody Else Try Retrobright?

Postby Matchstick » July 8th, 2019, 8:14 pm

Apologies in advance if this topic has been brought up before.

Now that it's Summertime here on the Oregon coast and we're getting days with a steady amount of bright, bold sunlight, I felt that time time had finally come to try this stuff out. Normally, I'm not the biggest fan of mixing together household chemicals based on some directions I found on the Internet, but after years of wanting to, I've finally gotten my act together and started to refurbish my older "yellowed" systems and controllers using the Retrobright method.

For those that don't know, Retrobright is a simple mixture of Hydrogen Peroxide, some sort of kitchen cabinet thickening agent, and Oxyclean laundry detergent. How's it work? Pretty damn well! There's a lot of information (and mis-information) out there about what works and what doesn't, but I kept it simple in my approach, and I'm out about $4, total, in materials costs. Most directions state that you need a high concentration of peroxide but I found this is not the case. I spent 88 cents on a 32oz bottle of standard 3% peroxide from Wal-Mart, I bought a container of "LA's Totally Awesome Oxygen Laundry Booster" from Dollar Tree for -you guessed it - a buck, and spent about two bucks on half a pound of bulk Arrowroot powder from a health foods store down the street.

In short, you disassemble and clean your yellowed plastic bits, mix together the solution, then lay your plastic parts outside in the hot sun and lather the Retrobright goop on them with an old brush, re-applying it every half-hour or so to keep it from drying out. I tested the solution on some formerly-white Japanese Sega Saturn controllers, and after leaving them out in the sun for 5 or 6 hours, the before and after is jaw-dropping. In the span of an afternoon, I have two controllers that look brand effin' new, and now I can't wait to "brighten up" the console, itself!

Most people seem to use this stuff on a yellowed SNES, NES, or original Game Boy, but the results should be the same no matter which system or manufacturer. Myself, I'll be using it in the future on my NES and Dreamcast components, as my SNES is fortunately still a consistent gray color. It takes some dedication, but it's a fun way to kill a day off, something that's easy to work in while you do the laundry, mow the yard, or sneak in some game time. Highly, highly recommended.

So, has anybody else out there mixed up their own batches of Retrobright and put it to the test? How did it go? I'd be glad to write up a "how-to" if there's any interest, and I'd be glad to post some before and after pics, too. I know I can't be alone here, and I figure that some of us here on the VGC have probably tried this out before. If you have, I'd love to hear from you and compare notes - and, hopefully, compare success stories, too!

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VideoGameCritic
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Re: Anybody Else Try Retrobright?

Postby VideoGameCritic » July 8th, 2019, 9:06 pm

This is fascinating - thanks for posting.

I always assumed there was some kind of aging going on at a molecular level that caused the plastic to change color. I had no idea the condition could be "cured". Love to hear other people's experience with this stuff.

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Matchstick
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Re: Anybody Else Try Retrobright?

Postby Matchstick » July 8th, 2019, 10:30 pm

Sounds too good to be true, right?

I was skeptical when I first found out about the stuff, and I wouldn't have taken the dive and tried it for myself if I couldn't have done so cheaply. I figured it was worth the $4 to find out if I could make my Saturn controllers look less like the color of a cigarette butt, and hey, it worked out. Sounds like something out of an infomercial: "So simple, it works!"

Supposedly, the yellowing in older used-to-be-white plastics has to do with bromine, which is added to most ABS plastics used for electronics as a fire retardant. It doesn't play nicely with UV light, and, over time, changes the color tone. I'm guessing this is why most electronics nowadays are molded in black plastic - any change in color would be harder to notice. Seems funny to me that UV light is both the source of this problem and a big part of the solution, as well.

On a side note, trace amounts of bromine are found in many soft drinks, such as Mountain Dew and Gatorade. I believe the ingredient is labeled as "brominated vegetable oil," which, as it sounds, is oil combined with bromine atoms. It helps act as a stabilizer to keep all of the ingredients in the drink from separating over time and can also give the drink a slightly murky appearance.

Currently, brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is banned from use in foods in Europe, but "recognized as safe" by the FDA for use here in the States. In a nutshell, though, the same thing turning your Game Boy yellow is floating around in Mountain Dew in trace amounts. The more you know!

ActRaiser
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Re: Anybody Else Try Retrobright?

Postby ActRaiser » July 9th, 2019, 7:35 am

That's crazy awesome. I had never even heard of this before. One more thing to add to my To Do list. :)

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Retro STrife
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Re: Anybody Else Try Retrobright?

Postby Retro STrife » July 9th, 2019, 10:03 am

Yeah, like the others, I had never heard of this before and I'm pretty amazed by it. I never realized that the yellowing could be cured. Thanks for sharing this.


EDIT: After being amazed by this, I started googling it a little bit and found a good tip: For those willing to pay a little extra for convenience, you can buy hydrogen peroxide cream that women use to bleach-dye their hair. It's basically like ready-made Retrobright solution. With that, you skip the step of buying and mixing the individual chemicals.

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Gentlegamer
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Re: Anybody Else Try Retrobright?

Postby Gentlegamer » July 9th, 2019, 6:02 pm

Retro STrife wrote:EDIT: After being amazed by this, I started googling it a little bit and found a good tip: For those willing to pay a little extra for convenience, you can buy hydrogen peroxide cream that women use to bleach-dye their hair. It's basically like ready-made Retrobright solution. With that, you skip the step of buying and mixing the individual chemicals.


This is the method used by the modder who refurbed my PCE Duo-R. He says it works perfectly.


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