Why Clear Phone Cases Turn Yellow [EXPLAINED]

Why the hell has my clear phone case turned yellow!? Here’s everything you need to know and what you can do to avoid it happening again…

Key Takeaways

  • Phone cases are affected by various factors: Much like humans, clear phone cases are influenced by environmental factors such as sunlight, heat, and chemicals. Over time, these factors contribute to the degradation of the case material, which can cause discoloration.
  • Causes of yellowing in clear phone cases: The primary reasons behind the yellowing of clear phone cases include sunlight exposure, heat, chemical exposure, oxidation, and natural aging. Sunlight exposure can trigger a chemical reaction called photodegradation in the plastic, causing discoloration.
  • Quality and material matter: The speed and extent of yellowing vary depending on the case’s quality, materials used, and exposure to different environmental conditions. Poor quality cases age faster and provide less protection, so always go with good quality phone cases.
  • Coatings and additives can delay discoloration: While no clear phone case is immune to discoloration, some have protective coatings or additives that slow down the yellowing process.
  • Alternatives to clear phone cases: Since discoloration is inevitable, you might prefer to opt for non-clear phone cases. There are a variety of options available, from cases made of wood to those made from proprietary materials.
  • Preserving the clarity of clear phone cases: Yellowing is inevitable, but it can be slowed. Tips to maintain your case’s clarity include minimizing sun exposure, avoiding high heat sources, being mindful of chemicals, cleaning the case regularly with mild soap and water, choosing UV-resistant or anti-yellowing cases, and replacing your case periodically.

Clear phone cases are a bit like us humans. How? Well, for starters they’re affected by the sun’s UV rays and other forms of environmental factors.

Another intriguing fact? Phone cases, much like ourselves, are not immune to the ravages of time. As they get older, they get more dogged and, in the context of clear phone cases, start to turn yellow. Again, a bit like us humans.

And it doesn’t matter where you buy your phone case from – all clear phone cases suffer from this issue.

So, what exactly causes your clear phone case to turn yellow? The discoloration can be due to various factors including sunlight exposure, heat, chemical exposure, oxidation, and natural aging.

Let’s dive into these factors to better understand this process.

Why Do Clear Phone Cases Turn Yellow?

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  1. Sunlight Exposure Clear phone cases, commonly made from polycarbonate or thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), can be sensitive to UV radiation from sunlight. This triggers a chemical reaction called photodegradation, which breaks down the plastic’s molecular structure, leading to a yellow hue.
  2. Heat High temperatures can speed up the yellowing process. The heat can trigger faster chemical reactions in the plastic, accelerating its degradation and discoloration. Simple actions, like leaving your phone case in a hot car or near a heat source, could be culprits.
  3. Chemical Exposure Chemicals present in cosmetics, oils, cleaning agents, or even substances from your pocket or bag can interact with the plastic, leading to discoloration. Even ingredients like benzoyl peroxide in acne treatments or specific fabric dyes can stain the case yellow.
  4. Oxidation Oxidation, a reaction between a material and oxygen, can lead to color changes. Clear phone cases are especially susceptible to oxidation, resulting in a yellow tint.
  5. Natural Aging Just like any material, clear phone cases age naturally. With time, environmental factors like light, heat, and other elements degrade the plastic’s molecular structure, making it more prone to discoloration.

It’s worth mentioning that the yellowing’s speed and extent can vary depending on the case’s quality, the materials used, and its exposure to different environmental conditions. Spoiler: don’t buy cheap-ass phone cases. Not only will they age faster but they also do not provide adequate protection.

This is why, even if you’re keen on creating your own customized phone case, that you do it via a decent retailer, not just the first one you stumble upon.

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While some cases may have protective coatings or additives to delay yellowing, all clear phone cases will eventually show some discoloration over time. For this reason, it is probably best to NOT use a clear phone case – or, resign yourself to the fact that you will need to change it every 12 months or so.

And, remember: when it comes to phone cases there are LOADS of different types available – from ones made from wood to cases created from proprietary materials like AiroShock, in the case of MOUS cases, and Impactium, with Speck phone cases.

Preserving The Clarity of Your Clear Phone Case

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While yellowing is inevitable, certain measures can slow down the process. This is good news for anyone that prefers their phone inside a clear case. But please do keep in mind that, given enough time and UV exposure, all clear phone cases will one day turn yellow.

This is also the reason why I switched over to non-clear phone cases years ago; the yellowing just looks so unsightly. For the past several years, I have mostly been using either Casetify cases or ones from MOUS – both are excellent options.

Here are some tips to maintain your clear phone case’s clarity for as long as possible:

  • Minimize prolonged exposure to direct sunlight.
  • Keep your phone case away from high heat sources.
  • Be mindful of chemicals that might come in contact with your phone case.
  • Clean your phone case regularly with mild soap and water. Avoid harsh chemicals and abrasive materials.
  • Opt for UV-resistant or anti-yellowing phone cases for better protection.
  • Replace your phone case periodically to maintain its appearance.

Need help choosing your next phone case? Check out our guide to the best phone cases and phone case brands for right now.

Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin is a leading UK technology journalist with a focus on consumer tech trends and data security. Renowned for his insightful analysis, Richard has contributed to Sky News, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 2, and CNBC, making complex tech issues accessible to a broad audience.

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