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Why Do Clear Phone Cases Turn Yellow?

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Anyone who has ever owned a clear phone case can attest that these phone cases tend to turn yellow over time. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this from happening. But first, why does it happen?

Primary Causes of Phone Case Yellowing

There are two primary factors that can cause a clear phone case to yellow: UV light exposure and the natural oils and sweat excreted from your body. But before we dive into each of these factors, it’s important to understand what makes plastic phone cases clear in the first place.

In general, clear plastic phone cases are not actually clear at all. Instead, they are yellow, and manufacturers add a slight blue tinge to the plastic. The result is a material that looks completely clear to our eyes.

The plastic degrades when exposed to certain harsh conditions, revealing its natural yellow hue. Regular plastic also undergoes this gradual yellowing, but it’s often faster in clear plastic due to the existing yellow undertones.

So, let’s explore the two main causes of yellowing.

UV Light Exposure

One of the main reasons why clear phone cases turn yellow is because of UV light exposure. UV light is a type of electromagnetic radiation that comes from the sun. It’s what causes sunburns, and it can also damage plastic items like phone cases.

When plastic is exposed to UV light, it breaks down and becomes yellowed or discolored. This is because UV light causes the molecules in the plastic to break apart. The more exposure the plastic has to UV light, the more damaged it will become.

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Source: Mas Cenot/

Oils and Sweat

Another reason why clear phone cases turn yellow is because of oils and sweat. Skin produces natural oils that can transfer onto phone cases through everyday use. These oils can cause the plastic to turn yellow little by little.

Similarly, sweat can also discolor clear phone cases due to the acidic qualities of sweat. As a result, it can eat away at the plastic. If you are particularly prone to sweating, your plastic iPhone case is more likely to turn yellow.

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How to Prevent Your Phone Case from Turning Yellow?

With these factors in mind, there are a few things you can do to prolong the life of your clear case and keep it looking new.

One of the best ways to prevent your clear phone case from turning yellow is to avoid exposing it to UV light — keeping it out of direct sunlight whenever possible. If you’re going to be in the sun for an extended period, make sure to cover your case with a dark cloth or shirt. Store the phone case in a cool, dry place and out of direct sunlight when you are not using it. 

Finally, make sure to inspect your case regularly for signs of damage. If you notice any yellowing or discoloration, take steps to clean and protect your case right away. Taking these precautions can help keep your clear phone case looking new.

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Consider Some Alternatives

If you’re tired of dealing with yellowing Android phone cases, you may want to consider skipping clear plastic altogether. There are plenty of other materials to choose from that won’t turn your phone case yellow.

One option is to choose a phone case in an opaque color since it hides any discoloration that may occur progressively.

Another option is to choose a phone case made from tempered glass. These types of cases are designed to resist scratches, cracks and discoloration. They’re also easy to keep clean and look great for extended periods.

If you’re set on sticking to a traditional clear phone case, be sure to consider the environmental impact of doing so. While there are ways to reduce the odds of yellowing, it’s ultimately inevitable. As a result, clear plastic phone cases end up in landfills far more often than other types of cases.

If you’re looking for a more sustainable option, consider choosing a compostable clear iPhone case from Pela. Once the case has reached the end of its lifespan, it will break down naturally without harming the environment. As the world’s first compostable, transparent phone case, a Pela case is a great way to reduce your impact on the planet without giving up clear cases.

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Final Thoughts

Clear phone cases are popular for a reason: They show off your phone while still offering protection. And now that you know why they turn yellow, you can take steps to prevent it from happening and make an informed purchasing decision.