Image for the article titled How To Clean Your Discolored Vents With Hydrogen Peroxide

Photo: Nadezhda Mikhalitskaya (Shutterstock)

There’s a difference between dirty and discolored – and plastic covers can be both. While many homes have metal ventilation covers, plastic is also relatively common. And one of the downsides to white plastic vent covers is that they’ll yellow and discolor over time.

When this happens, no amount of elbow grease or detergent will immediately return its original color – but it seems like a nice soak in some hydrogen peroxide could do the job. In a video for USA Today “Problem solved” Vertical demonstrates to reporter Kristopher Juniel how this works and explains why it happens in the first place. Here’s what you should know.

Here’s how to use hydrogen peroxide to lighten your discolored plastic vent covers

Why do white plastic ventilation covers gradually change color to different shades of yellow and beige? According to Juniel, it’s the result of prolonged exposure to the sun. And since vents are always there, outdoors on your wall, that can’t really be avoided.

Here’s what to do, courtesy of Juniel in this video:

  1. Start by removing the plastic vent covers. In most cases, they’ll attach to the wall with two screws, so a screwdriver should be enough to do this part of the job.
  2. Once they are down, thoroughly clean the ventilation covers. This means that dirt, dust or other debris is removed from between the grids or along the edges. When you’re done, give it a final rinse.
  3. Find containers – ideally with lids – that are large enough to fit the vent covers. Put them in the containers and pour hydrogen peroxide on them until they are completely submerged.
  4. Put a cover on the container and leave it in the sun for a few hours. Check them regularly to see what progress they have made.
  5. Once they’re white again (or at least less yellow than before), quickly rinse the vent covers and let them dry.
  6. Finally, put the ventilation covers back on the wall.

While this method doesn’t restore your plastic vent covers to their original, fresh shade of white, it’s simple and cheap enough to try.

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