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Restoring yellowed plastic keys

Posted: Wed Apr 09, 2008 8:43 pm
by pangmaster
I've got two 80s-era synths whose white keys have yellowed slightly, and I'm wondering if anyone out there has any advice about how to restore them to their original white color, or if it's even possible. I've read that soaking white plastic in 3% hydrogen peroxide might be an option to bleach the yellow out. Has anyone tried this on synth keys?

Are there other options? The keys are in great shape other than the slight yellowing, and I don't really want to replace them all as it will probably be too costly. But I do want to restore them if possible.

Cheers! 8)

Posted: Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:07 pm
by V301H
Before using any harsh cleaners try cleaning the keys with dishwashing soap. If you can remove all the keys let them soak in soapy water before scrubbing with a mildly abrasive dishwashing sponge. If that doesn't do it then try something stronger.

Posted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 12:24 am
by synth3tik
I had some keys that were so yellowed I used diluted hydrochloric acid. 1 part HC to 20 parts H2O. However unless there is a chemistry degree around, I would not try this.

Letting them soak in water and disk soap is the best plan.

Posted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 2:43 am
by Zamise
Bleach or white enamel paint. Just a couple ideas.

Posted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:59 am
by pangmaster
V301H wrote:Before using any harsh cleaners try cleaning the keys with dishwashing soap. If you can remove all the keys let them soak in soapy water before scrubbing with a mildly abrasive dishwashing sponge. If that doesn't do it then try something stronger.
I've tried cleaning them with detergent and other mild stuff and no dice. I'm going to try the 3% hydrogen peroxide next.
synth3tik wrote:I had some keys that were so yellowed I used diluted hydrochloric acid. 1 part HC to 20 parts H2O. However unless there is a chemistry degree around, I would not try this.

Letting them soak in water and disk soap is the best plan.
Yeah, I was a music major so I don't want to mess with something that caustic!
Zamise wrote:Bleach or white enamel paint.
I'm hesitant to try the bleach because it could damage the plastic. Maybe as a last resort. Painting is something I thought of, but it could be a pain to get all the keys looking the same.

Thanks for the replies! 8)

Posted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 6:25 am
by ramos
Try Eucalyptus oil.

it cleans plastic really well, and your synth will smell like the Austalian outback!

Posted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 2:22 pm
by minime123
id just leave it alone.... but let us know if you find something that works.

Posted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 6:25 am
by pangmaster
I give up for the moment. A 3% hydrogen peroxide bath didn't work, and soaking in a highly concentrated Oxy-Clean solution didn't work either. My keys are very clean now, but still slightly yellow. I don't want to try bleach for fear of damaging the plastic. Painting is too much work and I've got better things to do with what little free time I have. I was hoping that this was somewhat easily solved, but apparently not. I didn't try the eucalyptus oil yet, but maybe I'll give that a go next time the yellowness gets to me again. ;)

Cheers for the ideas!

Posted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 12:08 pm
by vcs3
I have the same problem with my Juno-60 keys and the board buttons,
I will try some stuff I have around, then let you know.

Re: Restoring yellowed plastic keys

Posted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 6:30 pm
by pangmaster
Resurrecting an old thread, but it seems that some chemistry geeks have created a recipe for Retr0Bright that looks promising in restoring old, yellowed plastics. In case anyone is interested... 8-)

I tried straight-up peroxide and Oxy-Clean separately, but never used UV light. Maybe if I have a chance I'll tear apart the synths again and give this recipe a go.

Re: Restoring yellowed plastic keys

Posted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 7:41 pm
by Christopher Winkels
Granted this doesn't answer the question, but I really like when a bit of yellow patina forms on my synths. I haven't had a ciggie in over six years, but despite that, my Little Phatty has a nice creaminess to the keys that makes it look more vintage than it actually is.

Re: Restoring yellowed plastic keys

Posted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 6:36 am
by EmptySet
I haven't tried this myself, but what about laying the white keys out in the sun? It sure seems to fade everything else. Might be worth a try.

Re: Restoring yellowed plastic keys

Posted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 6:51 am
by Virgule
:)