Last Updated on March 11, 2021
I acquired a Super Nintendo Entertainment System that was in terrible shape – the bottom of it had a huge crack in it and the whole console was super yellow. I had been wanting a SNES so I got this one in a trade, along with other consoles, just hoping to maybe have a few salvageable parts for later.
Because the SNES shell was basically trashed I decided to try out a home-made version of RetroBright on it to see if I could actually reduce the yellowing that many old Nintendo Gameboy, NES, and SNES consoles have gotten over the decades since being manufactured. RetroBright, also known as “Retr0Bright” with a zero, is a liquid/gel product that uses a UV lamp to correct the yellowing on old consoles and computers that have yellowed.
It turns out that RetroBright is basically just Oxiclean and Hydrogen Peroxide combined with a UV lamp that reverses the yellowing affect of a chemical reaction that older ABS plastics from the 1970s through the 1990s generally display.
I got some dollar store laundry detergent that had Oxiclean in it, I think it was “All with Oxi”, and I mixed it with regular hydrogen peroxide also from the dollar store. I didn’t put much peroxide since I wanted the mixture to still be on the thick soapy side and not too runny. Then I lathered the soapy peroxide all over the SNES and wrapped it with a few layers of plastic wrap and put it on my sunny front porch for an hour.
Success! My dollar store soapy peroxide concoction worked beautifully and the SNES was basically back to the original color! I will say that I had to unwrap the SNES twice after about 20 minutes each time and spread the mixture around so that any dry spots were evenly soaked again.
Sadly, because people in forums said drugstore peroxide wasn’t strong enough and that high-percentage beauty/horticulture peroxide was the only option, I wasn’t thinking it would actually work so I wasn’t taking photos or anything. However, I did repeat the exact process with my yellowed NES and the results were equally impressive!
Here’s my NES before the Ghetto Retrobright treatment:
And here is my NES after the Ghetto Retrobright treatment:
I was extremely happy with the home-made Retrobright results on both my NES and my SNES. I actually ended up using the top shell from the broken SNES to fix up another working SNES I acquired that had a cracked top shell! It’s not perfect though, however. Here’s a Gameboy DMG I used it on that was basically brown, and although it lightened it a lot, it still has a slightly tan tint when compared to a Gameboy in good condition. Sure, another treatment may have worked to make it even more light, but I didn’t want to expose it to much more than an hour of direct sun light and risk degrading the plastic any more than it already has been.
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever used Retr0Bright or used your own method to deal with the yellowing of vintage ABS plastic!