Are the solar lights in your lawn, porch, and backyard no longer looking as pristine as before? Plastic materials tend to turn a yellowish hue when exposed to the elements because of oxidation. As long as you know how to clean yellowed plastic solar lights, you can breathe life back into your lighting fixtures.
There is no need to fret if you are clueless as to how to do it. I will share some of the secrets to removing the oxidation from your plastic solar lights.
Things You Need for This Tutorial
Cleaning oxidized plastic solar lights is not that different from restoring any other plastic material. You will need several materials to pull this job successfully.
The first part of cleaning yellowed plastics involves preparing the surface, including removing debris, grime, dirt, and other particles.
While plain water is sufficient in some cases, it does not have a deep-cleansing property to lift oily substances from the surface.
The surfactant molecules in warm soapy water will remove any trace of oil or grime on the plastic surface.
You can add a tablespoon of liquid dish soap to a quart of warm water to make a standard warm soapy water solution.
Homemade Oxidation-removal Solution
There are two parts to this homemade oxidation-removal agent: hydrogen peroxide and oxygenated laundry booster.
Hydrogen peroxide is one of the most common household items that many people take for granted. We know it as a mainstay in the first-aid treatment of wounds, abrasions, and cuts by super-oxygenating the area and killing microorganisms.
What many of us fail to realize is that hydrogen peroxide has a multitude of applications. It contains two oxygen molecules bonded to two hydrogen molecules. When mixed with a chemical, it releases one oxygen atom.
In cleaning yellowed plastics, the additional oxygen in hydrogen peroxide lifts off the oxidation byproducts present on the surface. In a way, hydrogen peroxide whitens the surface.
Unfortunately, high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide can irritate the mucus membranes and the skin. That is why you will only use 3% hydrogen peroxide for this activity.
To bump the oxygen molecules in our oxidation-removal solution, you will add an oxygenated laundry booster. This product also has cleansing properties that aid in removing oxidation byproducts from the plastic surface.
The ideal ratio of oxygenated laundry booster to hydrogen peroxide is ¼ teaspoon to a gallon.
You will also need other materials, including the following.
- Microfiber towels or pieces of clean soft cloth
- Clean water
- Paper towels
- Shallow bowl
- Small bucket or any water container
- A pair of rubber gloves
- Safety goggles (optional)
- Mask (optional)
- Plastic cling wrap (optional)
- Adhesive tape (optional)
I must emphasize the importance of gloves, safety goggles, and masks. You will be working with hydrogen peroxide, requiring you to safeguard yourself against potential soft tissue and skin irritation.
Steps to Clean Yellowed Plastic Solar Lights
Step 1. Inspect your solar lights.
Part of cleaning solar lights is assessing the level of yellowing. If the oxidation is severe enough that you almost cannot see the bulb inside the lamp, an ordinary hydrogen peroxide whitening solution may be insufficient. You may need a more heavy-duty product.
Check the plastic for signs of cracks, holes, or damage. You will apply wet paper towels and rinse the solar light, increasing the risk of introducing moisture inside the solar light.
Step 2. Clean the surface.
Remove any surface contaminant by wiping it off with a clean piece of soft rag or dry microfiber cloth. You will want the surface to be as clean and dirt-free as possible before you begin the stain-removal process.
Wet a sponge in a soapy water solution and wring out the excess cleaner. Wipe the surface of the solar light, ensuring full coverage.
Repeat the procedure two to three more times before patting it dry using a microfiber cloth.
Pro Tip: Air-drying is better because it does not scratch the surface. If you are in a hurry, you can pat dry the surface with a soft cloth.
Step 3. Put on your safety gear.
Experts say we must observe safety precautions when handling hydrogen peroxide because of its irritating effects on the skin and mucus membranes. That is why you should always put on your gloves before preparing the hydrogen peroxide solution.
While the hydrogen peroxide we are going to use to clean yellowed plastic light covers is only 3%, I still recommend using gloves.
Pro Tip: To be safe, you can wear goggles and a mask, too. Hydrogen peroxide can irritate the lining of your eyes, mouth, and nose if droplets enter these body parts.
Step 4. Prepare a hydrogen peroxide solution.
Get a small bucket or a large bowl and fill it with 3% hydrogen peroxide. Add a quarter of a teaspoon of oxygenated laundry booster to form your base solution.
The oxygenated laundry booster adds oxygen molecules to the hydrogen peroxide because it is only 3%. If you use industrial-strength hydrogen peroxide, the oxygen concentration will be higher. Unfortunately, it can also cause more severe soft tissue and skin irritation.
Pro Tip: You can add the oxygenated laundry booster to the hydrogen peroxide container, ensuring the correct ratio of ¼ teaspoon to a gallon. Doing so gives you enough hydrogen peroxide solution for several cleaning sessions.
Step 5. Apply hydrogen peroxide-soaked paper towels on the plastic solar light.
Pour the hydrogen peroxide solution into a shallow bowl. Soak several pieces of paper towels in the solution, wringing out excess solution.
Carefully place each hydrogen peroxide-soaked paper towel on the yellowed solar light. Ensure the paper towels adhere to the plastic surface.
Pro Tip: Secure the paper towels with plastic cling wrap. If you do not have one, you can tape the paper towels around the solar light.
Step 6. Leave it under the sun.
If there is only mild yellowing on the plastic solar lights, you can leave the paper towels for about two to six hours. For more severe staining, you can leave it for up to four days. The hydrogen peroxide solution is viable for up to 96 hours.
You can repeat Steps 5 and 6 if you still notice yellowing in the solar lights after four days. Ensure to leave the paper towels in direct sunlight.
Pro Tip: You can use artificial UV light at night. Excellent options are incandescent, halogen, and fluorescent lamps. Ultraviolet radiation hastens the whitening process.
Step 7. Rinse well.
Dip a sponge or microfiber cloth in soapy water and wring it to remove the excess. Wipe the solar light, ensuring you remove all residue. You might have to do this several times before rinsing the solar light with a clean water-dampened sponge.
If this is insufficient, you can wash the solar light with soapy water before rinsing it with clean water. It would be best to observe caution during this stage to prevent getting water into the solar light.
Here is an excellent video from What The Fox! about how to clean, renew, and restore solar lights.
Knowing how to clean yellowed plastic solar lights can help you retain the optimum working condition of your solar lights. You see, oxidation can impact your device’s UV-gathering capabilities. Keeping it in pristine condition should help you enjoy all the benefits of free lighting.
I hope you found this tutorial beneficial. If you do, why not share it with others? They might also want to learn how they can manage yellowed plastics. I would also appreciate any feedback or comment you may have.
Hi, I am Eddie, Cleanenergysummit’s content editor. It’s so much joy to work alongside Justin, as the idea of providing knowledge about using clean energy excites us.
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