Thursday, May 30, 2013

Restoration: Bleaching the Beige Parts to White Again

Since the 70's many plastics contain bromine, a flame retardant that is the culprit behind the yellowing (this would explain why my 1968 GI Joe Seawolf submarine was still bright white in 2009 even though it predates the A Frame house by 10 years). It is a chemical process that has been discovered to be REVERSIBLE! Its done by making a paste of corn starch (or xanthum gum), 12% hydrogen peroxide and oxyclean (generic at Family Dollar), alternately it seems you can use peroxide cream from Sally Beauty Supply, or the proprietary RetrObright. Brush on with a flat paint brush (much like a BBQ brush, but wider), wrap in cellophane and leave in the sun or a UV lamp all day, rinse, dry and enjoy.

Many vintage Apple and Nintendo nerds are using this with success, so lets hope this works with the Barbie house. Please post comments and email pictures so other readers can use techniques that work best. =-)

I have tried this technique using Salon Care Professional 20 volume regular lift creme stabilized formula 4 ounces for $3.00 at Sally Beauty Supply.
The supplies you'll need. This one small container technically will cover all of your white A frame pieces once, but if you want to really drown parts in it or add a second application then buy the large container its only $5 I think.  
The during should look something like this. I used dollar store seran wrap. 

After, the left side is what I decided came up good enough to not paint. The right side lightened some, but not enough, so will have to be painted. These were left in the hot sun all day for 2 days (flipping sides on the second day). 

So, in summary what happened is that the parts that were slightly discolored lightened enough to not be painted, the parts that were very discolored lightened some, but not enough and will have to be painted. Verdict: I could try a different creme, or make my own using the above mentioned ingredients (and even make it stronger) and perhaps achieve better results, however, for this house I am pretty sure I will just paint the dingy half and call it a day this time. 

The left side parts are not perfectly sparkly white like when I do a repaint, but overall its better to have non painted parts, it technically devalues the house since you have to disclose its painted. It is more work to have to clean everything, creme bleach it, clean again and still have to paint half the parts anyway. So, totally a labor of love if you are up for it. =-) 

So, when you receive a house that is this far gone, you now know how to brighten the white without having to paint it. It still is surprising to me how faded roofs and floors look so much darker and richer once the white walls are lightened. 


  1. Would love to read a follow-up ! :)

  2. Thanks for sharing the results! Very interesting - good to know I didn't have to go through all that trouble; don't think I would have been satisfied with the payoff.