I like white furniture; it has a clean and bright look that works in any room. The only problem? When you have a white furniture color palate, some items start yellowing. This antique yellow aesthetic doesn’t work when the item is the only odd color out in the room!
It also makes furniture (especially in the kitchen!) look dirty and unkempt. This is not an uncommon problem with IKEA furniture, so thankfully, there are also several different solutions you can try if your furniture is wooden and painted. If the white is a foil, you will likely need to replace the furniture.
White IKEA furniture can turn yellow when exposed to sunlight or heat, which cleaning won’t help. Contact IKEA about return policies and warranties or repaint the item. Frequently redo protective topcoats and protect the item from excessive moisture, grease, and sunlight to prevent yellowing.
White IKEA Furniture Can Turn Yellow
You are not alone in your yellow troubles! Many people report that their white IKEA furniture has yellowed. It happens with both old and new items, with some people reporting the yellowing on furniture they have had for anywhere between six months to seven years.
The common trend is that the products yellow when and where they are exposed to heat and sunlight. This is true for a variety of IKEA furniture ranges and is not limited to a single product.
Yellow Likely Caused by Sun/Heat-Bleaching
Most people who report their white IKEA furniture yellowing indicate it occurs where the furniture receives sunlight through windows or where the item is exposed to heat.
One customer found yellowing on a table where sunlight shone through a window, and when they moved a tv to look at the table, found that heat from the appliance had also caused yellowing.
If you look at the materials tab for IKEA products, you can see what paint is used on the product or if it is a plastic foil. In the latter case, you probably won’t be able to fix the discoloration. With the former, it is likely the finishing coat giving the furniture its yellow hue.
If the item is painted, IKEA tends to use acrylic paint, which is supposed to be very resistant to environmental factors. However, the problem is likely the paint quality and/or the varnish or topcoat that layers over the paint.
Heat and UV rays cause components in plastics and varnishes to degrade, which results in yellowing.
What to Do With Yellowed IKEA Furniture
1. Ensure That It Is Not Grease or Dirt
White furniture can look gross under layers of dirt and grease. Be sure that you haven’t just got a tough layer of dirt on your furniture; one customer reported on Facebook that using bleach sorted out their problem.
IKEA doesn’t replace or refund dirty products, so it is always worth being able to tell them you have tried thoroughly cleaning the item.
If your furniture is near the kitchen, grease might make the item look yellow; however, this grease can also cause the furniture to yellow faster, which won’t come off with a deep clean.
You can try a mixture of ½ cup baking soda and ¼ water. Gently scrub this onto the furniture with a soft toothbrush or sponge and leave it for 5 minutes. Afterward, wipe it away with a damp cloth or sponge and dry it. (Try this for vinyl finishes as well!)
Ammonia works for removing stubborn grease. However, this is not a good option for furniture with oil-based paint. You can always try a specific grease cleaning product, like the Oil Eater Degreaser (amazon link).
The last method, aside from straight traditional cleaning products, is mixing ½ cup of all-purpose cleaner/white vinegar/wood cleaner with ½ cup water in a spray bottle. Scrub the surface with a sponge after spraying and then wipe it off with clean water and dry it.
2. Contact IKEA
IKEA has a good return policy and many items have warranties. So, if the yellowing is due to a fault in the product, IKEA can deem it eligible for replacement or refund. In order to contact IKEA, you can go into the store, online, or you can also try the IKEA Facebook page via private message with the following:
- Pictures of the yellowing issue.
- A copy of the original receipt or your online order number.
- The item number.
- Your contact details: name, number, email address, and mailing address.
If you go in-store or online, you will still need your receipt or order number.
IKEA policy includes an assessment of the item to determine the best course of action. For example, IKEA might replace the entire product, or they may only replace the part of the item that is discolored. This is left to IKEA’s discretion.
This process can be straightforward if you have your receipt and if the item is undamaged and unmodified. Staining is one factor that disqualifies an item for return, but this shouldn’t be an issue if IKEA agrees it is a product flaw.
Facebook threads also show that IKEA still asked customers to contact them privately for yellowing issues with older products that they no longer have receipts for.
3. Try Painting the Yellowed Furniture
If you are not keen on the “antique” yellow look, you can repaint the piece if it doesn’t have a foil covering. However, to repaint the item correctly, you will likely need to sand down the original paint, which depends on the wood under the paint.
If there is particleboard or fiberboard under the paint, you may not be able to strip it sufficiently, but once you have navigated that, you can move on to the most important step: choosing paint for your furniture.
The oil-based alkyd paints are durable, so you would think this would be the best choice. However, the curing agents in these paints tend to yellow with time. You can use latex paint to prevent this, as environmental factors will not discolor latex paints.
If you use oil-based alkyd paint, make sure it gets plenty of light (artificial and natural) which will help prevent yellowing and is convenient if your furniture yellowed because of light in the first place. It is also important to avoid cleaning products with ammonia.
If you want to keep the furniture white in areas that won’t see enough sunlight, you should probably use a different paint. An important thing to note is that if you are going to use water-based and oil-based paint on the same item, start painting with water-based paint. This is because these types of paint give off ammonia as they dry, which will contribute to the yellowing of your fresh oil paint.
Can You Stop White IKEA Furniture Turning Yellow?
The best way to keep your IKEA furniture from yellowing would be to keep it safe from heat and sunlight (this helps to extend its life in general). Unfortunately, that is not always practical or possible. You’ve bought the furniture for a purpose in your home, and you need to be able to use it where you want.
Furthermore, if your furniture item is giving off a particularly strong formaldehyde odor, or it has been outgassing for a long time, then placing the item in the sun can speed up this process and limit your exposure to the potentially harmful chemical.
You can keep up with varnish or sealant in order to help protect the paint from moisture and heat. Reapply this topcoat layer approximately every two years to protect your furniture.
Keep the furniture away from tobacco smoke, as this exacerbates the yellowing. Ammonia cleaning products will also speed up yellowing on your furniture. Therefore, not only should you not use ammonia on the piece of furniture, but you should also be careful of using it too close to the item as well.
Bathrooms and kitchens will be your biggest risk locations. Excessive moisture and cooking grease can make your furniture turn yellow faster; however, exhaust fans that provide sufficient ventilation to the area will help solve this. So, choose your furniture and its location with these factors in mind.
A set of thin drapes on the window to block some light from the furniture is also a great way to prevent yellowing when there is no way to keep the item from sunlight.