When chlorine bleach gets on fabric, it almost immediately removes the color from the fabric and leaves either a white or yellow stain. Whereas most stains are caused by a new color being deposited onto the fabric, bleach stains are actually the removal of the fabric dye, which means they are permanent. The way to get bleach out of clothes is really about how to restore the color to the stained spots.
Where to Begin – Neutralizing the Bleach
If bleach is allowed to sit on the fabric too long, it can eat a hole through it, so the most important thing to do first is to save the fabric from any further damage.
- Start by rinsing the area with cold water to remove as much of the excess bleach as possible.
- Next, neutralize the remaining bleach by mixing some baking soda with water to make a thick paste, then spreading the paste over the stain.
- Leave the paste on the stain until it dries, then brush it off.
Restoring the Color with Alcohol
- Pour some rubbing alcohol on a cotton round.
- Sponge the area around the stain with rubbing alcohol.
- Rub the cotton round from the area just outside the stain towards the center of the stain. The alcohol will loosen the excess dyes in the fabric and allow you to redistribute it onto the stained spot.
Restoring the Color with Markers
- Take the garment to a craft store or supermarket.
- Find a fabric marker or permanent marker that closely resembles the color of your item.
- Gently color in the stain, trying not to apply too much ink at once.
- If you color the stain too much, blot it with rubbing alcohol on a cotton round to remove some of the excess ink.
Restoring the Color with Dye
There are two ways to use dye to remove bleach stains. Either you can dye only the spot that is missing the color, or you can dye the entire garment. For the best results, re-dye the entire garment.
- Go to your local craft store or supermarket and get a dye that is as close to the color of your bleach-stained item as possible.
- Use a color remover, such as Rit Color Remover, to remove all dye from the garments before re-dying them.
- Follow the instructions on the label of your selected dye to re-dye your shirt.
- Consider treating the item with Rit Dye Fixative after dying it to help the dyes to set.
Bleach Stains on White Fabrics
These are the best bleach stains to get, as they are actually caused by the yellow dye in the bleach. That means that you need to remove a dye stain, not restore the color to the stained area. Follow the steps in our guide, How to Remove Unwanted Dyes from Cotton Fabrics.
Bleach Stains on Black Fabrics
Black is one of the easiest fabrics to successfully remove bleach stains from. Use a black permanent marker, following the Restoring the Color with Markers method above.
Bleach Stains on Denim
Darker denims often have a lot of excess dye on them, which can make the alcohol method work well. Lighter denim will be difficult to re-dye exactly the same, so instead, you can either cover the spot with a patch or turn the stain into a hole and pretend like you bought it that way. There are a variety of patches that you can choose from; the traditional style using a swatch of fabric cut into a fun shape, an iron-on, or a beaded applique.
Bleach Stains on Towels
Towels do not usually have excess dye, which prevents them from depositing dye on your skin when using them to absorb water, but also makes the alcohol method unlikely to work. The loop-style weaving of many towels is wonderful for absorbing water, but is a difficult material to fix using the marker method. Instead either use the Restoring the Color with Dye method above, but be sure to use the dye fixative to ensure the dye is not deposited on your skin after a shower later, or simply use the Rit Color Remover to remove all dye from the towel and enjoy your new resort-style white towel.
Bleach Stains on Shoes
The way to handle a bleach stain on shoes depends on the color of the stain. If it is white, that means that the color of the fabric has been removed. The great part about getting a white bleach stain on shoes is that most kinds of shoes are particularly easy to re-dye. You can either take them to a cobbler or wedding boutique to have them dyed professionally, or simply dye them yourself using the methods above. If dying them simply isn’t an option, you can always have some fun creating designs with the bleach on the shoes to make your own unique style, even a simple polka dot design can really go a long way.
If the bleach stains are yellow, that means that the yellow dye in the bleach has been deposited onto the shoe and needs to be removed. To do that, follow the steps in our guide How to Remove Yellow Bleach Stains from Shoes.
Bleach Stains on Carpets
- Any time you have a bleach stain, you must first neutralize the bleach. To do that, mix some baking soda with water to make a thick paste. Rub the paste onto the stain, then let it dry. Once dry, vacuum up the paste.
- The easiest way to get a bleach stain out of carpet is to cut away a small square of the carpet and replace it with a matching unstained square. For the full instructions on how to do that, see our guide How to Fix Bleached Carpet.
- However, you can try re-dying the spot using one of the above methods for Restoring the Color, or you can have the spots professionally re-dyed by carpet dyers.
- Bleach stains can occur on laundry from bleach residue remaining in the dispenser, in the machine, or from a spilled drop landing on the machine when pouring the bleach into the dispenser. To prevent this from occurring again, switch to using oxygen bleach in your laundry.
- If a bleach stain on clothes cannot be removed or repaired, save the items to wear while cleaning with bleach to avoid staining any more clothes.
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