Doing laundry is a necessary part of everyone’s life. Whether you like it or not, our clothes get dirty as we wear them, and we need to wash them to keep them fresh.
One of the most helpful ways to get rid of stains is bleach. Bleach is an excellent help for brightening old, dingy whites that have turned grey, beige, yellow, pink, or light blue over time, depending on what other clothes you’ve washed them with.
Bleach works by completely removing the color from fabric. If your white shirt was washed with a red skirt, bleach will remove the faint red dye and make it bright white again
If during the laundry process you spill a little bleach on an article of colored or dark clothing, don’t panic. Although this does permanently remove the color from your clothing, all hope is not lost.
So, how do you get bleach stains out of clothing? To get bleach stains out of clothing, the best method is to deactivate the bleach, then fill in the bleach stain with a fabric marker, fabric dye, or pull the existing dye into the stain using rubbing alcohol.
There are other methods, which we’ll explore below, to fixing clothes that have accidental bleach stains. Although bleach damage is permanent, you can repair the clothing to make it look good as new.
How To Get Bleach Out Of White Clothing
White clothing is the easiest to repair when it comes to bleach stains. Since the clothes already have no color, the bleach isn’t as noticeable.
Bleach does, however, leave a yellow-looking stain or residue behind on white clothing. To get your white clothes looking bright again, follow the two methods listed below.
Note that it is very important to use the baking soda method first. Bleach cannot be mixed with vinegar directly. You must deactivate the bleach with baking soda before putting vinegar on the bleach stain.
By using a baking soda paste on the bleach stain, you will neutralize the bleach and make it safe to apply other chemicals and methods to remedy the stain.
1. Baking Soda
The first step in the baking soda method is to create a baking soda paste. To do this, combine baking soda with a small amount of water.
If the stain is small, you can use around ¼ cup baking soda to 2 tablespoons of water. Start there and add more baking soda and water as needed, depending on the size of your stain.
Once your paste has been mixed, apply it directly onto the stain. You can use a cotton ball or swab to apply the paste, or simply apply it with your finger.
Let the paste dry fully on the clothing. It’s best to lay the garment flat as it dries so the paste stays on and does its job. When the past is fully dry, you can brush it off into a sink or trash bin. It can be helpful to use an old toothbrush to brush it all off.
Rinse the clothing and let it dry. Now the bleach has been deactivated and you’re ready for the next step!
White vinegar is an easy way to get the bleach stain on your white clothing to disappear. Compared with the other methods for colored or black clothing, the vinegar method works best for white clothing and can get rid of those yellow stains quickly.
First, make sure you deactivate the bleach using the baking soda method listed above. You must deactivate the bleach before putting white vinegar on the stain. Once you’ve deactivated the bleach with baking soda, you’re ready to apply the vinegar.
You can either apply straight vinegar directly on the stain, or dilute it with water and dab it onto the stain with a washcloth. Either way works and it’s up to your personal preference.
Let the vinegar sit for a few minutes and watch it work on your stain. Within under 5 minutes, you should notice the stain becoming less visible.
After 5 minutes, take a dry cloth and blot at the bleach stain to soak up the vinegar. Once it’s been mostly soaked up, rinse the shirt with cold water.
If the stain is still there, repeat the steps until the stain disappears. After your final rinse, be sure to wash the garment as usual to cleanse it of any remaining vinegar or residue.
How To Get Bleach Out Of Colored Clothing
With white clothes, bleach stains are not as noticeable. They tend to only have a yellow tint, which doesn’t stand out as much depending on where the stain is located.
Colorful clothes, however, are obvious when they have a bleach stain. You can see it from several feet away. To get rid of bleach stains on colorful clothes, try one of the three methods below.
Remember that each of these methods should only be used after you’ve done the baking soda method. Deactivating the bleach with baking soda should be your first step no matter what method you choose.
1. Rubbing Alcohol
After you’ve deactivated the bleach with baking soda, you can try to pull the excess dye from the unbleached area of the garment into the bleach stain.
First, grab a bottle of rubbing alcohol and cotton balls. These are items people usually have on hand, but if you don’t have any, they can both be purchased for just a few dollars at your local pharmacy, grocery, or convenience store.
Lightly soak the cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and rub the area around the bleach stain. Be gentle, but make sure that the alcohol is soaking into the fabric around the bleach stain.
Once that area is wet with rubbing alcohol, you can start to rub the cotton ball from the area around and outside the bleach stain into the middle of the stain. The goal is to pull the dye from the surrounding area of fabric into the bleached area.
Continue doing this, getting new cotton balls as needed, until the area is covered in color again. Once the bleach stain has been filled in with excess dye from the unbleached fabric, rinse the garment under cold water.
After a good rinse, you’re ready to wash and wear as usual.
You may notice that the place where the bleach stain was is still lighter than the rest of the fabric, but it will be less noticeable than the bleach stain that was there before.
This method works best with smaller bleach stains and fabric that holds a lot of dye, like cotton. If your garment is made of a fabric that doesn’t hold dye well, like polyester, this may not work. Try one of our alternative methods below.
2. Fabric Marker
The fabric marker method depends on your ability to find a marker that matches the color of your garment. To make it entirely invisible, it would have to match completely. If you’re okay with it being slightly off, just try to find a marker that matches your color best.
My favorite fabric markers are from Crafts 4 All. They come in a variety of colors, so you should be able to find one that’s the perfect match for your garment.
Be sure to deactivate the bleach with baking soda before you begin with your fabric marker. Then, grab your fabric marker.
Color in the area of the bleach stain with your fabric marker. There’s no special trick – just color the area like you would color in a coloring book.
Once the entire stain has been covered in the dye from the fabric marker, follow the packaging directions and wash the fabric as instructed.
This is another method that works best for smaller bleach stains. You can probably use this with a medium-sized bleach stain as well, but it would not work for a large-scale bleach stain.
You’ll also need to find a fabric marker that is compatible with your fabric type. Check the fabric material on the tag of your garment and make sure the fibers will work for your fabric marker.
Since the fabric marker relies on you finding a perfect, or near exact, color match for your garment, sometimes the best option is to simply re-dye the clothing.
This method is really only recommended for colored clothing. White clothing won’t need re-dyed as it has no dye to begin with, and black clothing is easier to patch with a fabric marker.
One of the advantages to this method is that it will bring new life to your clothing. If the shirt you spilled bleach on has faded over time, you can make it look like new again with a fresh dye.
To use this method, you’ll not only need to purchase fabric dye, but color remover. This will remove all the original dye from your clothing and help to give you a more even color coverage with the new dye.
You will still want to start by deactivating the bleach with baking soda. Bleach doesn’t just remove color; it can also degrade and erode the fabric over time, eventually leading to a hole. You’ll want to stop this process by deactivating the bleach.
Next, remove the color from your garment. Follow the color remover directions to properly remove the original dye without damaging the fabric.
You cannot add new dye over existing dye because it won’t hold as well and the new dye will wash out. You must remove the original color before re-dyeing the fabric.
Once your fabric has had all color removed, you’re ready to step into the re-dyeing process. Different types of fabric dye may have different written instructions, so be sure to follow the directions on your bottle of fabric dye.
Re-dye, then rinse and wash as instructed. Your garment should now be fully colorful again with no bleach stain! You can also use fabric dye on smaller stains, though it will take more effort compared to the fabric marker or rubbing alcohol methods.
If you want to use fabric dye in a small stain, simply mix a small amount of dye according to package directions. This will usually include the dye powder, salt, and water.
Then apply the dye solution to your bleach stain using a toothbrush. You want the dye to really soak in, so be generous. Dab the dye in all over the stain and be sure to use a good amount.
You’ll want to do this to both sides of the bleach stain, on the outside and inside of the garment. So once you’ve applied the dye solution on the outside, flip the shirt inside out and apply it on the inside.
Let the dye dry completely, then follow the package directions for proper rinsing and washing.
How To Get Bleach Out Of Black Clothing
Getting a bleach stain out of black clothing may seem impossible. The methods we listed above work great for white and colored clothing, but black clothing? It’s too dark, and the bleach is too light!
Don’t worry. You can certainly still cover up a bleach stain on black clothing. It may take more work and time, but it can be done.
You can try two of the methods we listed above: the rubbing alcohol method or the fabric marker method. Before you start with either method, be sure to deactivate the bleach with baking soda.
We’ve said it multiple times in this article, but that’s only because it’s so important! You cannot forget this step, or you may end up with a dangerous chemical interaction or holes in your clothing from the bleach eating away at your fabric.
After you’ve deactivated the bleach, you can proceed with either the rubbing alcohol method or the fabric marker method.
The rubbing alcohol method may take longer with a black shirt as you’ll want to draw enough dye into the bleach stain to make it dark again to blend in. This may take more time and effort than it would with a pastel colored shirt.
The fabric marker method, however, will be much easier with black clothing. It’s very easy to find a plain black fabric marker, and you won’t have the headache of trying to match the right color with your bright magenta top.
Using fabric dye shouldn’t be necessary with black clothing as the fabric marker or rubbing alcohol will usually do the trick, but there are plenty of black fabric dyes available on the market if you choose this method.
How To Cover Bleach Stains On Clothing
If all the methods listed above don’t sound appealing to you, don’t lose hope. If you don’t want to try and re-dye or match colors to cover your bleach stain, you can simply sew over it!
This would be best for those who are adept at sewing and have the materials on hand. You’ll still need to deactivate the bleach with baking soda first to prevent further material erosion, but once that step is done, you can get to work.
The best thing to use to cover the bleach stain would be an embroidery patch or applique. These aren’t obvious cover-ups since they’re used frequently to add a cute accent to plain clothing items.
Place the patch over your fabric and sew around the edges to secure it to your clothing. Once it’s sewn on, you’re done! This method only works for smaller stains, as there aren’t many large embroidery patches or appliques.
This would also only work if the bleach stain is in a spot on the garment that wouldn’t look ridiculous with a patch. An embroidery patch would look nice along the collar, in the chest area, or even along the bottom hem where it hangs on your hips.
The patch would look weird if sewn onto the back of a sleeve, a random spot on the back of your shirt, or even an armpit. Consider where the bleach stain is and if it would look normal to add a patch there before sewing one on.
If a patch is out of the question, you’ll have to go with one of the other methods we listed above.
Up Next: Bleach Color Chart For Clothes