How to Restore Faded Vinyl Decals

Vinyl decals age with time like we do. 

They might lose their vibrancy and seem dry. Sometimes, they’ll get an unsightly chalky look. Any of these signs on your decals could mean that they’re fading.

It’s a warning your decals need restoration, and the sooner you get to it, the better.

We’ll show you how to restore faded vinyl decals in this article. So you can get their new shiny look back.

We’ll also give you some suggestions on how to clean vinyl decals to help you care for your decals properly. Caring for your vinyl decals is essential in maintaining their original state and extending their lifespan.

What this article covers:

 What Causes Vinyl Decals to Fade?

vinyl decal repair

Your vinyl decals fade when the chemical bonds in their dyes break down, and the oils used to make them seep out as a vapor. This process is known as oxidation. 

When it happens, a chalk-like residue remains on your decals. They lose the brightness of their original color and may appear white as if bleached. 

There are three main reasons your decals fade:

  1. Exposure to excess sunlight and bad weather – ultraviolet radiation from the sun triggers the oxidation process and makes your decals appear several shades lighter. 

The more sunlight your decals absorb, the lighter they’ll get because they absorb more heat. That’s why decals placed outside, under direct sunlight, disintegrate faster than those applied indoors.

  1. Exposure to too much moisture – excess water or moisture makes your decals deteriorate faster. It also causes mold and mildew to form on your decals. They reduce the visual appeal of your decals.
  2. Poor maintenance habits – using harsh chemicals to clean your decals will disintegrate them. Also, cleaning your decals the wrong way makes them lose their original shine and appear dull.

It’s critical to note that oxidation happens faster in some decals than in others. As a result, some decals fade more quickly than others. It all depends on their material, manufacturing process, and colors used.

Ensure you restore your decals as soon as you can when they begin to fade. That’s because oxidation happens gradually. So your vinyl decals will continue to fade with time and may become unrestorable and unusable at some point.

The best vinyl decals restoration process will not only restore the shine and color of your decals but also protect them from further deterioration.

How to Restore Faded Vinyl Decals

vinyl decals repair

We’ll show you how to restore faded vinyl decals without damaging them in this five-step tutorial. You’ll need the following materials for the procedure:

  • Clean water
  • Soft cloths
  • Cleaning solution
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Restoration product
  • Brush (optional)
  • Spray apparatus (optional)
  • Sodium percarbonate cleaner (optional) – you might need this if your decals have mold or mildew.  

Gather everything you’ll need before proceeding to step one. The trick to bringing your decals back to life lies in the preparation process you do before restoration. Most people don’t realize this and might use tons of expensive restoration products on their decals without success.

Steps 1-4 are all about the prep work. You have to do it a specific way if you want to restore your decals into their almost original state.

Step 1: Inspection

Inspect your vinyl decal to identify the extent of the disintegration. You’re looking to see if your decal has any mold or mildew in this step. Doing this will help you prepare the best cleaning solution required for step two.

If you notice mold or mildew, use sodium percarbonate to create your cleaning solution. Mix a teaspoon of sodium percarbonate in approximately 8 ounces of water to get the best results.

If there’s none, you can mix the standard detergent you use to wash your dishes or do laundry with water. Just ensure that it doesn’t have any harsh solvents. 

how to restore faded vinyl decal

Don’t use ammonia-based cleaners because they’ll tamper with your decal’s adhesiveness and reduce its longevity. You don’t want to create a new problem instead of solving one.

For the mixing part, use a 70-30 ratio in this case. That is 70% water and 30% of non-abrasive detergent.

Once you have your cleaning solution ready, move on to step 2.

 Step 2: Cleaning

Use your soft cloth and cleaning solution to remove any dirt from your vinyl decals. Be gentle as you rub the surface of your decals in a circular motion. 

Gentle circular motions using something soft are the best way to clean all decals without damaging them. It’s how to clean perforated window decals without causing them to peel.

Never rub hard or use any scrubbing pad. It’s a sure way to destroy your decals and render them useless.

Step 3: Rinsing

After rubbing off the dirt from your decals, rinse them with clean water. Then, let them air dry completely before continuing. It’s essential to give them ample time to dry properly.

Step 4: Wiping

 What Causes Vinyl Decals to Fade

In this step, pick a soft cloth, dab some rubbing alcohol on it, and wipe your decal’s surface to ensure it’s all clean. 

Be careful not to leave any dirt on the surface of your decal. It might create bumps or spots on it, destroying its graphics. Remember to be gentle as you wipe your decal to avoid damaging it.

Also, using rubbing alcohol in this way is how to get sticky residue off a vinyl decal.

Step 5: Restoring

The final step is to apply your vinyl decal restoring product. You can use a brush, spray apparatus, or soft cloth to rub it on your decal. The application tool you use will depend on the restoration product you choose. 

To get the best results, avoid products with petroleum distillates. They’ll dissolve your vinyl decals’ adhesive and cause them to peel off your surface. Know how to keep decals from peeling off walls to handle this issue accordingly if it ever arises.

We recommend using a soft cloth for application. You’ll get a uniform color and regain your decal’s original shine successfully with this. Also, some of the most effective vinyl decals restoration products come with the best soft cloth wipes. They also protect your decals from further disintegration. 

To apply the restoration product, test a small area first to know how it works. Once you check and confirm that the product works well, rub it on the rest of the decal.

Slowly start from the top and move downwards during application to avoid creating blotchy marks. 

Keep rubbing your product on the surface and buffing it a few minutes afterward to get rid of the oxidized layer and achieve that fresh look.          

repair faded vinyl decals

What to Do to Extend the Lifespan of Your Decals

 Extending the lifespan of your decals requires proper care. There are a few things you can do to make your decals last long: 

1.   Protection From Sunlight

Protecting your decals from the sun’s U.V rays will increase their lifespan without a doubt. You can use polyurethane or polycrylic over vinyl decals to minimize the effects of sunlight exposure. 

Generally, applying and managing sealants is how to protect vinyl decals from different weather conditions. But there are disadvantages to it. The process of handling these sealants is often tedious and might affect your decal’s appearance.

That’s why we manufacture our decals with maximum protection from the word go. As mentioned before, the material, manufacturing process, and color of your decals determine the rate at which they fade.

We use a high-quality material – cast vinyl – to make durable decals that can stand the test of time. We also print our decals using U.V resistant inks to prevent fading and offer a lamination option to protect them further. 

Check out our custom die-cut vinyl decals and let us meet your design needs. Our experts will also help you pick the right colors to match your specifications. Colors matter when creating decals because some, like yellows and reds, are more vulnerable to the sun’s rays. They fade faster than other colors. 

restoring faded vinyl decal

2.   Regular Cleaning

Cleaning your decals often helps maintain their quality and longevity. Be keen to use the right cleaning products and follow the cleaning method outlined under step 2 to get the best results.

3.   Save & Store Properly

How you save and store your decals when moving or changing designs is part of maintaining their quality and longevity. Avoid folding. Instead, roll your decals gently and secure them with a rubber band to transfer and store them safely.

Learn more on how to save wall decals and how to store window decals properly to make them last longer. 


While fading is the natural aging process of decals, it doesn’t happen fast. A well-made indoor decal, for example, can last for over five years without losing its luster. We create our decals to last this long in their pristine condition. So fading is not a problem you’ll have to worry about when you get your decals from us. 

But, if you’re already struggling with the issue, use the process we’ve laid out above to restore your decals. They’ll look good as before in no time. If you try our vinyl restoration process and your decals remain the same, the problem could be more than fading. Reach out to us for expert advice on what to do next.

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