Help! Retrobrite fail on Apple keyboard


25 Feb 2020, 17:58

Hi all. Last summer I tried to retrobrite an old Apple keyboard and the results were pretty disastrous. I tried a lot of different techniques but was never able to get an even result. After getting splotches from using Sarah wrap, I bought 2 gallons of 40 vol clear developer and left it submerged in the bright sun, hoping to get everything to even out, but it didn't budge! WTF? I should think that theoretically all of the plastic could be lightened to the same level.

Is there any hope to restore this case? The PCB and keycaps are in perfect condition and it would be such a shame to have to chuck it because the case is so splotchy (I was restoring this to sell, since I have no use for it).

Thanks in advance for advice!



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25 Feb 2020, 19:37

Ooo, I'm sorry that this happened to you. :(
***Edited because it seems my information was bad! Wouldn't want to mislead anyone.***
Last edited by Weezer on 26 Feb 2020, 16:36, edited 1 time in total.

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25 Feb 2020, 19:44

I think you can either wait for it to yellow again, or you could try painting it.

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25 Feb 2020, 23:41

What about retrobrite it again to at least have all the same white?

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26 Feb 2020, 00:36

Keep retrobrighting it, the keyboard will only get so white. Just leave it in the sun for as long as you can and it should even out. Seen this before on my HHKB


26 Feb 2020, 02:18

It isn't supposed to be whiter than the keys are. If it gets whiter, then that is not retrobriting but bleaching.

BTW. Can't the Apple logo be popped out?


26 Feb 2020, 05:24

2 Gallons of 40 vol developer? Where I am that would make up a significant portion of what the keyboard is worth, or maybe I just haven't found it in very large containers or something to make it a little less expensive? Heat apparently can be used as a substitute for sunlight and that will be evenly distributed. For me, I've found that the dreaded "blooming" effect is more likely to happen with the higher strength peroxide used and the longer you leave it in, so if you attempt it again with a different case, I'd say you might try 50% diluted 40 volume and see how that goes.

I've by no means perfected retrobright by any means, but in my experience, cases usually don't have as big of a risk of "blooming" as bad as caps can.

I think you'd still find a buyer if the rest of it is nice and it still will function well. Likely won't be worth all the time/effort/expense of peroxide to correct what's wrong with the case as it may not matter as much as you think to the buyer, or they might already have a case to put your guts into.

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26 Feb 2020, 11:56

I'd avoid the creams and gels. Seems like maybe the first pass (with cream in saran wrap), lightened it unevenly. I think the bright spots are where it has been bleached in addition to being un-yellowed. Might be hard to come back from that unless you bleach everything. I've had the best results with just 10% liquid hydrogen peroxide. Submerge it in the liquid, add the UV light, wait a few hours. It requires a lot of peroxide for large boards, but is worth it for your precious.


26 Feb 2020, 20:33

Thanks everyone, some great ideas here. I'll give the 10% hydrogen peroxide a try, if I can find enough for a reasonable price. At this point, I can't tell if the light bits are lighter than the keycaps or not, but I'd rather have an even color that's too light than this crappy look.


26 Feb 2020, 21:09

Another recommendation for the hydrogen peroxide. Try pharmacies, and hair places. I've never used wrapping - surely that'd create the creases and lines?


27 Feb 2020, 17:37

For apple board I use cream but only for keycaps. pretty sure there is a difference between keycaps and case / mouse plastic.

Case and mouse always get this marble look but for keycaps it’s perfect.

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