Is Your Manga Turning Yellow? (Why and How to Stop It)

Yellowing manga

Have you ever found yourself wanting to re-read your old manga books? Then when you go and get them, you discover that they have turned yellow over time. Some people like this, as they think it gives their manga an authentic and vintage feel. However, others don’t like that they paid for the new manga, only to end up this way.

Why does manga turn yellow? When the paper of your manga gets exposed to light and air, they oxidize and turn yellow. You can prevent this by properly storing your manga in places with good air circulation.

Still, there is much more to the process of manga turning yellow.

In this article, we will details how and why manga turns yellow. We will also look at different solutions to counter this.

Let’s get to it!

Why Does Manga Yellow? Complete Process

Manga turns yellow because the paper is made from wood. Its consists of cellulose and lignin. Cellulose is a colorless substance and is good at reflecting light. It is why paper usually appears white.

Meanwhile, lignin is a polymer. This means that it functions like glue and a strengthener. Lignin makes the wood more rigid and robust, and it binds together the cellulose fibers.

Now, the thing about lignin is it’s a dark color. This is why paper bags or cardboard boxes are color brown, as much of the lignin is left in them for added strength. It is also highly susceptible to oxidation.

When lignin becomes exposed to oxygen and sunlight, its molecular structure becomes unstable. This causes a change in how it absorbs and reflects light. Thus, the white paper begins to appear yellow.

The cheaper quality a paper is, the more lignin it has. Hence, it oxidizes faster than better-quality paper.

Meanwhile, the higher-grade paper goes through a more intensive bleaching process where more lignin is removed. This is why it takes longer for quality prints to turn yellow.

The quality of paper used for manga books is dependent on the publisher. It also depends on the price customers are willing to pay. Higher-quality paper requires a higher price.


Let’s say you bought an Omnibus manga edition from Seven Seas. Omnibus manga are usually considered special quality manga. Hence, you can be assured that it’s going to take years before you notice a smidge of yellow.

For the most part, manga books are printed on cheaper paper to lessen the costs. It is especially true for manga published in Japan.

Think of the thinner, lower-quality paper used in newspapers and regular novels. It’s not that bad, but it’s not exceptional either. When this type of paper is used, it does not take long before your manga volumes start turning yellow.

How Long Does it take for Manga Books to Turn Yellow?

Regular manga books take around five years to turn yellow. This is presuming that you live in a place that has average humidity. Whether you take your tankobons outside the house or not will also be a deciding factor.

But, if you live in a sunny and humid city, the process becomes much faster. In this case, your manga books would turn yellow within one year.

Meanwhile, higher-quality manga books can take 10-15 years to turn yellow. But, this process will only take 3-5 years if you live in a humid environment.

How to Remove Yellowing From Manga

The process of removing yellowing from manga can be tedious. The options we present will take a lot of time and effort or cost a lot of money. It may be easier to buy new volumes, but the sentimental value of your older ones makes them irreplaceable. If so, make sure that you consider doing any of the following:

Clean with Hydrogen Peroxide

For this, you will need:

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Gloves
  • Q-tips
  • Facial cotton

If your hydrogen peroxide has a high percentage, make sure to dilute it in water. You can also consider purchasing food-grade hydrogen peroxide. Just double-check that there is no acidic content in the mix.


  1. Once you have your hydrogen peroxide solution, dip a Q-tip into it.
  2. Then, to thin out the amount of liquid, wrap the Q-tip in facial cotton.
  3. Test the solution by gently dabbing the tip on a small area first. Observe how the paper reacts to the hydrogen peroxide. You can choose to increase the pressure and the amount of liquid used based on that.
  4. You can also opt to use the facial cotton on larger yellowed areas. Make sure to be careful, as paper can become irreparably damaged if it gets too wet.
  5. Repeat the process on every affected page. Be mindful that a page should be thoroughly dried before you move on to the next one. You can also repeat the procedure for stubborn stains.

Trim with Sandpaper

This process is very straightforward and cheap, but it is also risky if you don’t know what you’re doing. For this, you would need 100-grit and 320-grit sandpaper.


  1. Carefully rub the 100-grit on the areas where there is yellowing. Afterward, use the 320-grit to smoothen the paper.
  2. This can be quite abrasive and would work better on thick paper. Hence, it is best used to resolve yellowing on the trim of book covers and spines.

Use MicroChamber Interleaving Paper

MicroChamber interleaving paper is a thin, almost transparent paper. It contains dispersed molecular traps. These neutralize and remove acids, pollutants, and by-products of deterioration.


  1. To use, simply put a MicroChamber paper between affected pages, and it should do the work for you. This is a safe and easy way to treat the yellowing of your manga books. However, it is also quite expensive.

You can only get these sheets in sets of 100, and one sheet costs around $1. If you have many manga books that you need to restore, then the price would add up.

Furthermore, it would take some time to see the effects. But if you do have the money to spare and don’t want to risk using chemicals, this would be an excellent option for you.

How to Prevent Manga From Yellowing (7 Tips)

What is the best way to avoid going through the process of removing yellowing? By avoiding their occurrence in the first place. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. There are several ways you can prevent your manga from yellowing:

1.) Store away from direct sunlight

Ultraviolet rays speed up the process of yellowing. Hence, ensure that your bookshelf is kept away from sunlight and keep your mangas tucked away when not in use.

2.) Store under moderate humidity

Manga books that are stored in dry places end up having brittle pages. Meanwhile, those that are kept in humid areas can end up producing mold.

You can use a humidifier or dehumidifier to control the amount of moisture in the air. The ideal moisture level would be around 30% – 50%. Hence, it would help if you stored your tankobons in a place with moderate humidity.

3.) Maintain good air circulation

Books and wooden bookshelves go through a process called off-gassing. Off-gassing releases harmful chemicals in the air, and needless to say, this isn’t good for your books.

Good air circulation will ensure that the gases will stay away from your books. You can do this by leaving 2-3 cm of space between your books and shelves. Also, don’t push the spines flush against the wall.

Remember to take your tankobons off the shelf and letting them air out every once in a while. You may also point a fan in the direction of your bookshelf.

4.) Keep the temperature consistent

Heat speeds up the deterioration of paper. However, not having enough heat will also be detrimental to your manga books.

The best practice would be to have a room dedicated to storing books. It should be climate-controlled all year. Keep the temperature consistently at 18 to 20 degrees Celsius.

5.) Check your indoor lighting

Fluorescent lighting is as damaging to your manga books as sunlight. If you can afford it, you may consider buying UV filters.

6.) Use lining paper

Use protective lining on your bookshelves and between books. This is to protect your tankobons from the chemicals released during off-gassing. It will also delay the process of yellowing.

7.) Separate already yellowed manga

Manga books that have already turned yellow are already emitting harmful chemicals. These will be absorbed by the volumes beside them. And so, if possible, keep your yellowed manga in another bookcase. If not, then having them on a separate shelf is good enough.

Now, it’s time to hear from you:

Did I miss anything?

How do you deal with manga that has already turned yellow?

Whatever your answer is, let’s hear it in the comments below.

Is Your Manga Turning Yellow? (Why and How to Stop It)

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