How to Restore Color to Vinyl Decals

Vinyl, a type of plastic, breaks down and dries out over time when exposed to ultraviolet light and weather. This is a natural process of deterioration as chemical bonds in dyes break down and oils used to make vinyl volatilize, or pass out of, the plastic as a vapor. Dyes also break down at different rates, depending on color. Often the chemical breakdown — or oxidation — of plastic leaves behind a chalk-like residue that lends a whitish appearance to the color, making it look bleached. One solution for dry, faded plastic is to use a vinyl restorative product on it.

Step 1

Clean off any superficial dirt from the vinyl decals with a soft cloth and a solution of detergent and water. Substitute a sodium percarbonate cleaner such as OxiClean for the detergent if decals have mildew or mold on them. Do not rub hard or use a scrubbing pad, or you may damage the decals.

Step 2

Rinse the decals with clear water and allow them to air dry completely.

Step 3

Wipe with rubbing alcohol dabbed on a soft cloth to ensure an absolutely clean surface.

Step 4

Apply a vinyl restoring product such as ArmorAll Original Protectant, Vivilon Envirolon, Vinyl ReNu or similar product with a cloth, brush or spray apparatus — in accordance with the manufacturer's directions for application.


Deborah Stephenson

Deborah Stephenson is a homesteader, lifelong organic gardener, former zookeeper, naturalist, artist and anthropologist who brings an eclectic range of experience to her writings. When not writing she can usually be found puttering in her extensive gardens or exploring the national forest next door with her dogs.