Why Is My MacBook (Pro/Air) Charger Turning Yellow?

If you have been using the same MacBook charger cable for a while now, you might have noticed that it’s not exactly the same color as when you first purchased it, with yellow streaks replacing the original white color the cable comes in.

This may come especially surprising if you consider yourself to be someone to be who took good care of their MacBook charger cable, with no particular event that you can remember taking place that could have led to the yellowing problem at hand.

In today’s article, we will be going through all the reasons that can cause the yellowness to replace the clean white color of your cables and hopefully clear all the confusion related to the MacBook charger cable turning yellow, which seems to be a widespread one with many users affected.

Below, you can find a list of all the factors that can cause your MacBook charger to turn yellow:

  • The charging cable is exposed to sunlight frequently.
  • The charging cable is overheating during the charging process.
  • The charging cable is getting dirty as a result of physical contact.

In the upcoming sections, we will take a deeper dive into the factors that can cause the MacBook charger cable to turn yellow, find out how to prevent the yellowing from occurring, and discuss whether the MacBook charger cable turning yellow is a bad sign.

Why Is My MacBook (Pro/Air) Charger Turning Yellow?

As the yellowness usually occurs gradually, looking at the charger cable of your MacBook one day and seeing that it has turned yellow can definitely leave you wondering about what exactly happened for such a change to occur.

macbook magsafe cable yellowing

Below, you can find sub-sections for all the factors that can cause the MacBook charger cable to turn yellow, where we will be going into detail for each potential culprit and discussing how they can contribute to the problem at hand.

The Cable is Frequently Exposed to Sunlight

Frequently exposing the MacBook charger cable to sunlight is perhaps the most common reason that will cause it to turn yellow, as both the heat and the UV rays from the sun will degrade the plastic the cable jacket is made of, causing discoloration to occur as a result.

When sunlight is the culprit, you will either notice that the entire cable is becoming yellow, which would happen if you’re frequently using the cable in an outside setting, or only parts of it turning yellow, which would occur when parts of it are being exposed to sunlight in an indoor setting.

While such a scenario doesn’t pose an immediate danger to your MacBook’s charger cable, the degradation over time will cause the plastic to become brittle on top of the discoloration and potentially cause it to peel off, leaving the inner parts of the cable exposed.

The Cable is Overheating During Charging

Another common factor that can cause your MacBook charger cable to turn yellow is overheating, with the high heat that the cable is exposed to damaging the integrity of the plastic that the cable jacket is made of, causing it to degrade and discolor.

In the case of overheating, you will notice the appearance of yellow spots on some parts of the cable where the heat damage has occurred, with the rest of the cable keeping its original color.

As cable overheating usually occurs due to it staying in contact with the power adapter, which naturally generates heat, for prolonged amounts of time, you should consider the yellow spots to be a warning sign.

The Cable is Getting Dirty Due to Contact

Last but not least, it’s entirely possible for physical contact to cause your MacBook charger cable to become yellow over time, as the cable jacket will slowly absorb the oils from your hands over time and start degrading as a result of the chemical reaction that takes place.

When a MacBook charger cable gets dirty over time due to contact, the most apparent sign is the yellowness appearing in the two areas close to the connectors, as these areas are where the majority of physical contact occurs during plugging and unplugging.

Even though this won’t create a dangerous scenario in itself, cable jacket degradation in the areas close to the connectors is more likely to cause the wires inside to become exposed, as these areas usually get bent during plugging and unplugging, which will quicken the stripping of the cable jacket.

How to Prevent the MacBook (Pro/Air) Charger Cable from Turning Yellow?

Fortunately, it’s possible to prevent the charger cable of your MacBook from turning yellow by taking some simple measures against it in most cases, which will allow you to preserve the cable’s integrity for a prolonged time and save you from having to buy a replacement.

macbook charger yellow stains
Source: Esqarrouth @ Stack Exchange (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Below, you can find our recommendations for preventing your MacBook charger cable from turning yellow, along with explanations that clarify how they will become helpful.

Keep the Cable Away from Sunlight

Keeping the charger cable of your MacBook away from sunlight is one of the most straightforward steps you can take to prevent it from yellowing, as it will ensure that the cable isn’t being exposed to heat and ultraviolet rays regularly.

In an indoor setting, you should easily be able to protect the cable from sunlight by taking measures such as avoiding the spots where the sun is shining, closing the blinds, or even hiding the cable under the table.

On the other hand, if you can’t avoid using your MacBook charger cable in an outdoor setting, we highly recommend investing in a cable protector, which is a tube that you can put the charger cable into to protect it from any external factors.

Avoid Touching the Cable with Dirty Hands

Refraining from touching the cable with dirty hands will ensure that the cable jacket is not absorbing any oils that can lead to it becoming degraded, as the plastic that the cable jacket is made of is rather susceptible to this form of degradation.

While this is easier said than done, especially considering that the entire point of a laptop is to use it in an outdoor setting where you may not always be able to keep your hands completely clean, there is no denying that showing some extra care will go a long way in keeping the cable in good shape.

Once again, investing in a cable protector will also be extremely helpful in this case, as you can always swap out the cable protector and replace it with a new one if it gets dirty.

Bonus Tip: Hold the cable from the hard plastic shell on either side of the cable instead of holding it from the cable jacket, which will significantly reduce the chance of getting any oils on the cable itself.

Keep the Cable Away from the Adapter

Ensuring that the cable is not coming into contact with the power adapter will prevent the heat that the power adapter generates from being transferred to the cable and make it practically impossible for the cable to become overheated during the charging process.

Our recommendation to eliminate any possibility of the cable touching the power adapter would be to keep the excess cable closer to the MacBook in cases where the distance between the adapter and the MacBook is shorter than the length of the cable rather than the adapter.

To keep the cable tidy, you can bundle the excess part of the cable with a cable tie, which will ensure that it’s always stretched enough to keep it away from touching the power adapter.

Clean the Cable Frequently

Last but not least, cleaning the cable frequently will ensure that any oils that can cause degradation to the cable jacket do not stay there for too long, which will significantly reduce the chance that yellowing occurs as a result.

To clean the cable, all you will need to do is to remove it from both the power adapter and your MacBook and quickly wipe it with a wet wipe now and then, which will be more than enough to get any oils off the cable.

Is It Dangerous for the MacBook (Pro/Air) Charger Cable to Turn Yellow?

Noticing that the charger cable of your MacBook is turning yellow can be quite concerning, especially if it’s your first time experiencing such a thing and the yellowness has already progressed a lot to the point where the cable’s original white color is completely lost.

While the charger cable of your MacBook turning yellow isn’t a dangerous thing in isolation, the fact that the yellowness is a sign of the degradation of the cable jacket, which is the outer shell of the cable responsible for protecting the wires inside, makes it a good idea to be cautious.

In most cases, you will notice that the yellow parts slowly become brittle and eventually peel off completely, potentially exposing electrical wires and creating a dangerous situation in the process, at which point the cable becomes unsafe for usage and should be replaced.

macbook magsafe charger frayed
Source: P A N @ Stack Exchange (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Aside from the apparent cable degradation, the fact that the yellowing can potentially occur due to cable overheating is also something to keep in mind, as a heat source (such as the power adapter) coming into the cable for a prolonged amount of time can create to a dangerous situation.

Conclusion

We can all agree that a MacBook charger cable that has gone yellow is not exactly desirable to look at and use, as the yellowness makes the cable look old and dirty compared to a new cable that comes in a spotless white color and potentially is a sign of cable jacket damage.

To summarize, heat and UV rays from prolonged sunlight exposure, oils from your hands, and overheating (which also often occurs due to external factors, such as the cable coming into contact with the power adapter) can all cause your MacBook charger cable to degrade and turn yellow.

Fortunately, it’s possible to prevent the yellowing that occurs due to any of the reasons we have listed above in the majority of the cases, meaning that you can preserve the original color and state of your MacBook charger cable for a very long time with some extra care.