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How to Get Bleach Out of Clothes

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Don’t let bleach ruin your clothes forever.

Bleach is often used for removing stains, but it can actually leave stains if you use it on the wrong type of fabric.

We have eight methods for trying to get bleach stains out of clothes so that they are wearable once again. Just keep in mind that it’s not always possible as bleach can ruin clothes past the point of repair.

We’ll also let you know some extra tips, like how to prevent bleach stains in clothing. That way, you can keep every garment in your wardrobe looking as good as new.

How to Get Bleach Out of Clothes With Fabric Dye

  1. Protect your surfaces with trash bags.
  2. Mix together one teaspoon of dye, one teaspoon of salt, and two tablespoons of water in a bowl.
  3. Apply the dye solution to both sides of the bleach stain with an old toothbrush.
  4. Let the dye dry completely.
  5. Rinse the garment well.
  6. Wash and dry as normal.


How to Get Bleach Out of Clothes

The key to getting bleach out of clothes is to act fast and use tried and true methods. These eight hacks can help to remove bleach from clothes, and maybe even upholstery, carpets, and other fabrics.

Before we get started, it’s very important that you neutralize the stain first. This will remove the excess bleach. It’s dangerous to combine chlorine bleach with other cleaning solutions. Combine this step with any of the methods below.

  1. Rinse the bleach off the fabric.
  2. Create a thick paste of baking soda and water.
  3. Spread the paste over the bleached area.
  4. Leave it to dry.
  5. Wipe off with an old toothbrush.

Now the bleach is neutralized and you can use any of these methods to try and remove the stain.

Clear Alcohol

Grab a bottle of clear alcohol — such as vodka or gin — and put it to use following these instructions.

  1. Rinse the garment under cold water to remove the excess bleach. Do this until you can no longer smell the bleach.
  2. Soak a cotton ball in the clear alcohol of your choice.
  3. Rub the soaked cotton ball over the bleach stain and any surrounding fabric. The alcohol will transfer the unbleached dye back into the bleached area. Continue to transfer the dye until you’re satisfied.
  4. Let the fabric air dry.
  5. Wash as normal.

Pro Tip

This is best for small bleach stains on dark fabrics. The alcohol will redistribute the dyed fabric back to the bleached spot. It can be too difficult to do this for large bleach spots so try a different method if you have a large bleach spot.

Rubbing Alcohol

Similar to the above method, you can also use rubbing alcohol to remove bleach stains on clothing.

  1. Soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol.
  2. Rub the area around the bleach stain with the alcohol.
  3. Rub the cotton ball from the outside of the bleach stain towards the middle. This should transfer the dye from the outside back in, covering the bleach stain.

Rub-A-Dub Laundry Marker

If you have a black garment that’s been bleached, then we recommend trying to use the Rub-A-Dub Laundry Marker to fix the garment. This is best for small bleach stains.

  1. After neutralizing the stain, lay the garment flat and put a piece of cardboard inside the garment, underneath the stain. This will prevent getting marker stains on other areas of the garment.
  2. Slowly and carefully start coloring in the bleach stain with the market.
  3. Let it dry.
  4. Repeat if necessary.
  5. Wash as normal.

Now your garment is ready to wear!

Diluted Sodium Thiosulfate

Diluted sodium thiosulfate, which can be purchased at department stores, can neutralize bleach stains.

  1. Mix together one tablespoon of sodium thiosulfate with one cup of water. We recommend using a disposable bowl and spoon to do this. You don’t want to be eating out of bowls and using cutlery that’s touched sodium thiosulfate.
  2. Wearing gloves, dip a clean white cloth in the solution. If you don’t have a cloth, use cotton balls.
  3. Blot the stain until the fabric starts to absorb the diluted sodium thiosulfate. Do not rub.
  4. If the stain isn’t being removed, rinse the area under cold water and repeat step three. Alternate rinsing the garment and apply the solution as the stain starts to lift.
  5. Wash and dry the garment as normal.

Pro Tip

Pro Tip: Get sodium thiosulfate products that are advertised as a chlorine neutralizer, since bleach has chlorine in it. Also, note that this is best if the bleach stain is fresh. If it’s an old stain, this might not completely remove the stain.

Dish Soap

This is a good option as soon as the bleach has come in contact with the garment before it’s changed the color.

  1. Use a clean white cloth to blot the excess bleach from the stain.
  2. Fill a bowl with warm water and a few drops of dish soap. Mix together.
  3. Use another cloth to apply the solution to the stain and blot to lift the stain.
  4. Empty the bowl and fill it with fresh cold water.
  5. With a clean cloth, rinse the area with cold water. Blot, don’t rub.
  6. Lay dry towels over the stain to absorb the excess moisture.
  7. Let it air dry.
  8. Vacuum the garment.

Use a Fabric Dye

Using a fabric dye is a fool-proof way to remove bleach, and other stains, from clothes. To do this method, we’ll give you some instructions, but make sure to check the specific advice from the manufacturer of your chosen fabric dye.

  1. Lay down some old newspapers or trash bags so that the dye doesn’t run through your garments onto your surfaces.
  2. Add one teaspoon of the dye powder to a bowl.
  3. Add one teaspoon of salt. Mix well.
  4. Add two tablespoons of water and mix together.
  5. Lay the garment on the protected table with the bleach stains face up.
  6. Use an old toothbrush to apply the dye solution to the bleach stain. Soak the fabric well by dabbing the dye into the fabric.
  7. Flip the garment over and apply the solution to the other side of the garment.
  8. Let the dye dry completely.
  9. Rinse well.
  10. Wash and dry as normal.

Distilled White Vinegar

This is a natural and eco-friendly way to try and remove bleach stains from your clothes.

  1. Mix together one tablespoon of distilled white vinegar with two cups of warm water.
  2. Soak a clean white cloth in the solution.
  3. Blot the affected area. The vinegar will start to lift and dissolve the bleach stain making it less visible.
  4. Use a separate cloth to blot the area with cold water. Continue to do this until you can no longer smell the vinegar.
  5. Repeat if necessary.

Warning

Mixing together bleach and vinegar can create toxic gases so be sure to follow our neutralizing tip before doing this method — or any of our methods (1).

Alter the Garment

If none of the above options work, and you don’t want to toss out the garment, there is one more option: alter it.

You can fashion the garment into something else by cutting or cropping it. You could also bleach the whole garment so that it completely changed color. Another option is to use patches to cover up the bleach stain. This can give your clothes a fun vintage look!

FAQs on Getting Bleach Out of Clothes

Why Is My White Shirt Turned Yellow in Bleach?

It’s actually quite common for bleach to yellow items. Chlorine bleach can especially yellow synthetic fibers such as microfiber, polyester, and nylon. It weakens the clothing fibers and sets the synthetic fibers back to their original color which happens to be yellow.

Bleach can also yellow natural fibers, like cotton or linen, if you use too much bleach.

Be careful when you use bleach. Always check the care label to see if bleach is allowed.

Why Are My Clothes Getting Bleach Spots?

If you use bleach for cleaning, it’s easy for a little bit to splash up and land on your clothing which can cause stains. When cleaning, either wear a protective apron or wear old clothes to avoid bleach from ruining your favorite pieces.

Another reason your clothes are getting bleach spots is if you use bleach in the washing machine for certain loads and forget to clean the washing machine between loads. There may be residual bleach in the detergent drawer or in the drum which is depositing leftover bleach onto your clothes.

Can You Get Bleach Off Black Clothes?

Believe it or not, it’s actually easier to remove bleach from black clothes than lighter colors. That’s because you can dye the fabric more effectively. Use a laundry marker or fabric dye to completely cover up the bleach stain.

How to Prevent Bleach Stains on Clothing

In this case, prevention is easier than cure, so let’s look at a few different ways you can avoid bleach staining your clothing.

  • Go big or go home — why not cut bleach out of your cleaning routine completely? There are lots of great alternatives to chlorine bleach such as oxygen bleach, distilled white vinegar, baking soda, and other cleaning products that won’t leave permanent stains on your clothing.
  • Wear protective or old clothing when working with bleach. Even the tiniest amount of bleach splatter can cause a stain on your clothing.
  • If using bleach in your washing machine, always wash the machine out between uses with hot water. Do not use any cleaning solution as mixing cleaning solutions with bleach can result in toxic gases.
  • Don’t use bleach on garments that don’t allow it. Always check the care label. If you are trying to whiten a polyester white shirt, but the care label doesn’t allow for bleach, you could end up yellowing or wearing down the shirt.
  • When using bleach on clothes, always follow the packaging instructions. You should always dilute the bleach rather than pouring bleach directly onto the stain.
  • If you need to remove stains from colored clothing, don’t use chlorine bleach. Instead, look for a color-safe oxygen bleach.
  • Don’t leave bleach around the home. Always put it in a hard-to-reach spot away from kids, pets, or places where you could accidentally bump and spill it. If cleaning with bleach, never leave the area unattended and clean up as soon as possible. If you leave bleach on a surface, you may forget about it and accidentally bump into it and stain your clothes.

Bye Bye Bleach

Bleach is a dangerous product to work with for health reasons. However, it can also permanently stain and damage your clothes.

Your best bet is to be super careful when using bleach — or even better, find bleach alternatives.

If you do get bleach stains on your clothing, we do have eight awesome methods for removing or disguising the bleach stains. These methods will bring your clothes back to beauty once again!

Headshot of Beth McCallum

About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a 20-something freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!
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