How to Fix Bleached Clothes

It happens to everybody at some point. Bleach gets on your one of your favorite shirts or pants, and you have an ugly, discolored mark. What can you do about it? Can it be fixed, or does it mean that article of clothing is forever ruined?

In all honesty, you can’t really undo a bleach mark. Bleach takes the color out of fabric, period. It can’t be “unbleached.” However, all may not be lost, and there are a couple of remedies that may help you to salvage your item.

Dye it

In the laundry aisle of most stores you can find clothing dye. Find a color that most closely matches your item, and follow the directions to dye the entire item the new color.

Bleach it

If bleach has splattered on your item, you might try just bleaching the whole item, and living with whatever new color emerges. Place the item in a small load wash with a small amount of bleach. Or, you can hand wash the item with bleach in the water. Prepare yourself: you may end up with a tie dye look. Who knows? You may actually like the effect.

Mark it

If the bleach marks on your item are small and/or inconspicuous, you may try the “quick fix” of using a permanent marker. This technique works best on black or dark colored items. Simply use a permanent marker that most closely matches the color of your item, and color in the bleached spots. You may have to redo the spots after the next wash as the permanent marker may fade.

Patch it

Try covering up the bleach mark with a patch. This works especially well if the bleach mark is on a pair of pants (especially jeans) where patches don’t look too out of place.

An Ounce of Prevention

The best way to deal with bleach marks is to avoid them to begin with. Following these simple precautions can help you to do that:

  1. After adding bleach to the bleach dispenser in your washer, flush the dispenser with several capfuls of water so that no bleach residue will remain to ruin the next load of clothes.
  2. Do not place clothes that have been bleached (i.e. whites) in the same basket, or even in the same dryer with colored clothes—any remaining bleach residue may bleed onto the others clothes, causing bleach marks and discoloration.
  3. When pouring bleach, make sure no colored clothes are within splashing distance.
  4. Bleach can be hiding in unexpected places:
    • Be careful when using certain anti-bacterial spray cleaners that contain bleach. If these get on your clothing, they will leave bleach stains.
    • If you have a pool, the chlorine that you add to your pool can bleach your clothing.
    • Other household items, such as hydrogen peroxide and certain whitening toothpastes, can have a bleaching affect on certain types of fabric, so exercise caution.
    • Powdered cleansers such as Comet or Ajax contain bleach that can discolor clothing or other fabric.

Comments

  1. Connie says:

    I accidentally sprayed my shirt with the grapefruit that I was sectioning, and it bleached it. Be careful with lemon, too. Use an apron as a preventative!

  2. Charlene says:

    I have washed several loads of beige and brown towels with regular washing detergent on cold water cycle. They have spots looking like they have been in bleach. My daughter had the same problem with a khaki dress. Bleach looking stain on the front. She did not use bleach, just powder washing detergent.

  3. Diane says:

    I just found out that using Spray and Wash is not recommended for khaki clothing. I think my problem could be that the bleach dispenser drains in the tub after using it.

  4. Jud says:

    I recently bought a vintage Van Halen 1984 shirt that had black baseball-style sleeves. Well, my mother-in-law watched my baby that day and did clothes and I thought, “Oh no, she bleaches all whites!” – yes it got bleached, but not bad. I used a sharpie to cover it up and believe it or not it actually works. It didn’t fade out much either; try it and you’ll love it. Also, I found that baby oil does the trick for grease and oil stains and doesn’t harm fabrics.

  5. Joanie says:

    Well, instead of putting my pants in the dryer, I decided to hang them up, to prevent from shrinking, so the next day, I don’t know how it got on there, but kind of dull pink spots emerged on some random places of my pants. I guess somebody used a bleach product around where my pants were hanging, so keep your clothes in a safe place to dry! (Just in case you live with other people!)

  6. Text says:

    I just spent $44 on a pair of Chucks and I got a small splatter on it. I colored it in with permanent marker, but it doesn’t seem right. I can still see a hint of orange stain and the permanent marker gives the area a glossy look. Anyway, would the dye would work? Any help would be sincerely appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Text

  7. Renee says:

    We get extensive bleached-out spots on towels, clothes, not using bleach. Can clothes wet with pool water cause bleach spots in those clothes or clothes in contact for a protracted period?

    I saw that benzoyl peroxide, and some enzyme cleaners can do this. Anything else?

    Thanks.

  8. Jodi says:

    Sometimes dry/powdered laundry detergents can have a bleaching effect if it’s not fully dissolved before you add clothes. I used to let the soap mix with the water before adding clothes to avoid this, but now I just use liquid soaps and I haven’t had an issue since switching.

    Thanks for the dye tips!

  9. Sho says:

    FYI, I’ve had facial cleanser with I believe salicylic acid produce “bleached” affects on my towel before.

  10. Emily says:

    One of my teachers told me to go clean the whiteboard because I was finished with my test. She gave me a paper towel and a bottle of cleaning spray. When I sprayed the board, some of it splashed my brand-new sweater that I got for my birthday. It turns out the cleaning spray had bleach in it and now I have a sweater with bleach stains all over it. I am trying to find a dye that is the same color, but I am not having much luck. BE CAREFUL AROUND CLEANERS!

  11. Hannah says:

    Thank you so much! I had run out of SHOUT once, and so I accidentally used Clorox with Bleach to get any stains out. WHOOPS! Not a good idea! So I’ll try to dye the load of clothes (as long as I can find the right colors :) ). Thank you again!

  12. Shelly says:

    In response to the person who said to be careful with facial cleansers with salicylic acid because of the bleach effect it has on towels, it shouldn’t be from ones with salicylic acid. I use those all the time with no problems. The stronger ones with Benzoyl peroxide (like Proactiv and others) are the ones that bleach wash cloths and towels and fabrics. I learned this when I didn’t check the ingredients of one and wore it to bed. The pillowcase, my pajama top and my hand towel in the bathroom were ruined.

  13. Wendy says:

    I have a blue denim-colored skirt and it looks like it was stained by bleach because the fabric has some white spots. How can I salvage my skirt?

  14. Charley says:

    I had a stain on my shirt and put some bleach on a tissue and I started scrubbing it, but it turned a disgusting green. I have put it in water, but I don’t know if this is the right thing to do. Please help; I’m dead if my mum finds out. :( :(

  15. Ryan says:

    I splashed bleach-based toilet bowl cleaner on my brand new jeans when the nozzle was clogged, and it squirted out the side. This is why I hate cleaning with bleach. I feel like the only way to prevent this is to clean in my underwear, which isn’t exactly realistic. Now I have bleach spots on my jeans and I don’t know what to do. They’re faded denim, so I’m not so sure the ole sharpie marker trick will do.

  16. Madison says:

    My mom had put a bunch of white clothes in the washing machine. So after it got finished washing, there was bleach everywhere (I don’t know how that happened), and it got all over them! We were so disappointed, because the laundry room stays filled with clothes (plus we have hardwood floors, so that didn’t make it any better). Not only did it get on our clothes in the washing machine, but it got all over the floor as well. So, today isn’t going to be a good day.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I got cleaning bleach on my favorite black dress and tried covering it up with a black sharpie and some black markers, but the bleach stain still showed up. What should I do?

  18. Lorraine says:

    I have a problem with my daughter’s clothing. Two girls poured bleach all over her clothes, and I need to know how I can fix it. Please help! Thank you.

  19. Herb says:

    Please help! I just got bleach on my Lacoste hat, and now there are white spots on the front of my hat. What do I do? I’m dead meat if my mom comes home and sees it! Help me, please!

  20. Wendy says:

    Well, I also got bleach splatter on a favorite black and white iron-on. I spot dyed it with “R” (the first letter of the most common dye sold in market), but it doesn’t seem to be working. I’m putting on full undiluted to see if it works…checking in and will post if this fails. I’m going to try a fabric marker from a fabric store; they’re for permanent wash-proof color and come in so many colors, sparkle ones too. They’re about $3-5.

  21. Harriet says:

    I mistakenly washed my new khaki pants with some sheets that I had and used bleach. Now, the pants are pinkish. Is there anything that I can do or are they ruined forever? I love these pants!

  22. Maggie says:

    Beware- I ruined some clothes accidentally when some bleach remained in the washer’s bleach dispenser. I even washed a few loads after the whites and they were fine, then washed my kids’ school clothes and some of the bleach that was mysteriously stuck in the dispenser decided to come flowing out, leaving marks on several items. I’m dyeing the black stuff right now, hoping it’ll cover the spots. From now on I will never use the bleach dispenser again. If I must add bleach I will dilute it in a big cup of water and add it to the rinse myself.

  23. Danny says:

    My clothes have bleach from the toilet on them. What is the best way to get the stains off?

  24. Melanie says:

    Danny,
    It is generally thought that if your clothes are colored, the only thing you can do is dye the stain. However, there are a couple other things you can try first. Completely wash the bleach from the fabric and then soak the stained area in white vinegar. (You must remove the bleach completely because bleach + acid = toxic gas.) You can also try sodium thiosulfate (available at most pet stores).
    In general, bleach removes the color permanently. Try a permanent marker or fabric dye. You can also dye the item an entirely new color or take it to a dye specialist (ask a dry cleaner or bridesmaid shop for a local recommendation).

    Source: How to Get Rid of Things
    Source: Clorox

  25. Melanie says:

    Harriet,
    Was there anything in that wash (sheets, etc.) that are the color red or pink? Bleaching khaki should not lead to a pinkish color, but a color bleed from a red shirt could cause that. For color bleeds, this is the article that you need; How to Fix Dye Transfer. Since your pants are pink all over, note step 5 and onward.

  26. Jenn says:

    On towels, pillowcases and shirt necks, it’s usually acne medicine that causes the bleaching. No specific brand, they all do. And dying clothes usually comes out as a tie-dye effect, even if you follow the directions (liquid and powder).

  27. Raven says:

    Does dying clothing that has bleach stains really work? I have a pair of pants that were black. My cousin placed a towel with bleach in the hamper with my pants and it bled through other items onto my pants. Now, I have orange bleach stains on my black pants. I just really need to know if someone tried this; if it really works.

  28. Leona says:

    I had a favorite black blouse that has a bleach stain. I don’t want to throw it away because it was one of a kind. I thought about putting hair color on it, which I did and I was amazed the results; I couldn’t see the stain in my blouse. FYI: I used the cheapest hair color, which is Revlon.

  29. Just Goofy Me says:

    I am a bleach fanatic and use bleach quite, quite often, so am kind of embarrassed to admit…but here goes:

    I typically get down to my bra and underwear ANY TIME I use bleach. But this time, I was an idiot and worried about all the chicken juice and it just had to be bleached right away. So, like a dummy, I “carefully” sprayed the entire counter where the chicken was, and then I “carefully” backed up my body and wiped the counter down…then looked down at my shirt for confirmation of my “carefulness,” and BAM!! A bunch of tiny bleach marks all over the front! Argh!!! Why, oh why did I do that!!!! I’m going to try the strip and re-dye method…as I JUST BOUGHT this shirt and love it dearly (and I could not find any other like it). :( I’m such a ding dong!

    Trust me, ladies and gents, always use bleach in your skivvies…always!

  30. Poof says:

    I kind of borrowed my bro’s pants; see what had happened was
    1) I was using bleach to mop
    2) not only are they NOT my pants, but I didnt ask
    3) any help would be dearly appreciated

  31. Siggy says:

    Well folks.. somehow I bleached my black Ralph Lauren t-shirt rendering an orange in places. I love my polo. I have been through so much this month and this just takes it. In my efforts to keep new clothes clean, I brushed up against the washer and bam. I have also tried to find dye at Walmart and have not found anything except the cheap stuff that doesn’t really hold up. Did I hear someone say that they used hair dye? If so, what kind? First and foremost, I need black. What would you recommend? I also need sky blue, and evergreen. Would love any recommendations for dye that will last long time!!!

  32. Randy says:

    I have gotten bleach dots on clothes…from of all things, dishwasher powder or even the liquid ones. I have used Sharpies and they work for awhile, but I am going to try the Revlon Hair Dye mentioned above. I am going back to wearing a lawn and leaf plastic bag (obviously with holes cut out for arms and a hole for your head…you can just tear it off and trash it!!) for doing any bleach stuff so that this does not happen again. I got a bad spot of nail polish on a pair of hunter green cord jeggings that are a favorite. I got most of the spot out with a Q-tip dipped in nail polish remover, but I have not been able to remove all of it. If you re-dye with Rit, you have to put the item in boiling water to get the dye to take and hot water can cause shrinkage. You might be able to find permanent marker pens at Staples (the art ones with a multitude of colors) and you can possibly mix them if the spots are not too big.

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