Tried a simple retrobrite for when components can't get wet. The Toothpaste Method.


New Member
Oct 21, 2019
I got a Mattel Aquarius for cheap. It arrived deep brown, with streaks across it where maybe a cable had been laying across it for many years. Didn't look too different from the Mac II in the Adventures in Retrobrite video. I started taking the Aquarius apart, and realized I would probably ruin it if I went too far. Once the bottom screws are removed, it's basically held together with glue and melted plastic tabs. I didn't want to go that far. So dunking it in water was out.

Cleaned the top half with glass cleaner (surprising how much this helps) with the keyboard still attached. Then spent about an hour and a half scrubbing the white surfaces with Arm & Hammer AdvanceWhite toothpaste and a green fabric scour pad from the kitchen. Watched some TV while scrubbing. While not a true retrobrite back to original, this non-water method removed almost 90% of the brown at first go. The corners are hard to dig into, and had to brace the various areas against a table because you have to scrub HARD!

The surface of the plastic does change in character. It becomes very smooth, but I am not certain if maybe that's how it was before deterioration began.

More scrubbing, more brown/yellow removed. Wipe down and repeat.

It's a lot of toothpaste and I used about a zillion paper towels with glass cleaner to keep on top of things. The toothpaste gets pushed into all sorts of places, so I used Oral B flossing brushes to dig the toothpaste out of the areas that paper towels can't reach.

While not quite the "new" look that is achieved by dunking in a tank with a chemical and sunlight, the transformation is remarkable. The harder you scrub, and the more time you spend, this does work. I think if I do this over a few nights of watching TV, the Aquarius will be completely white again.

And that is my submission for retro-brighting if complete disassembly is not an option. The Toothpaste Method. Thank you for reading.