It can be easy to re-dye a beloved clothing item right at home, as long as you have the right materials. Even if your clothing item isn’t white, you can try to remove the original dye with Rit Color Remover or bleach to give yourself a blank canvas.
So, Rit Color Remover vs bleach, which is best? Rit Color Remover is a non-chlorine bleaching agent that can be used on natural fabrics like cotton, linen, silk, and more to remove dye. Bleach, specifically chlorine bleach, will work better on synthetic clothes such as polyester or nylon, but it often damages fabrics.
Both products can work great to remove dyes from fabrics. Their effectiveness depends on whether you’re using the right product for the right fabric, and if the fabric was treated or how it was commercially dyed. We’ll go into more detail below.
Rit Color Remover
Rit Color Remover is a non-chlorine bleaching agent. The main ingredient is sodium hydrosulfite. It’s used often by home fabric dyers to remove dye from clothing so that it can be re-dyed into a new color.
When it comes to removing dye from clothing, many people prefer Rit Color Remover to bleach because it doesn’t cause damage to the fabrics.
You can safely remove color from your clothing items without having to neutralize the color remover or worry about whether the fibers have been weakened or broken down in the color removing process.
How To Use Rit Color Remover
Using Rit Color Remover is quite easy! Before you begin, make sure you gather the following supplies:
When you have all of your supplies ready and you’ve put on a pair of disposable gloves, you can start following these easy steps:
- Wash your clothing item in warm, soapy water.
- Boil a large pot of water, then add a packet or Rit Color Remover powder to the boiling water. Stir well.
- Add the clothing item to the pot using tongs and stir the fabric. Keep stirring the fabric around until the dye has been removed and you’ve reached the desired finished color. This can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes depending on the fabric.
- Remove from the pot of water and rinse the garment well.
- Wash and dry as usual.
That’s it! The stovetop method is incredibly easy and effective.
You can also use Rit Color Remover in the washing machine, but you may not get the best results since you can’t maintain the temperature of the water.
By keeping the pot of water boiling on the stove, you’re maintaining the heat required for the Rit Color Remover to work effectively.
For a video tutorial, check out the video below from OnlineFabricStore. They test out a few different fabrics to see which respond best to the Rit Color Remover.
What Fabrics To Use Rit Color Remover On
Rit Color Remover works best on natural fibers and fabrics, including linen, cotton, silk, wool, rayon, and ramie (a Chinese grass linen fabric). It doesn’t work well on synthetic fibers, so it wouldn’t work on polyester.
Even if you have a shirt that is a cotton/polyester blend of primarily cotton, Rit Color Remover may not be able to work effectively because of the polyester woven in.
Rit Color Remover will also not work well to remove the indigo dye from jeans, so you’ll have to try bleach for that. Finally, Rit Color Remover will not remove patterns or prints from fabrics.
While this may sound like a longer list of things Rit Color Remover won’t work on than what it will work on, it’s still a great option.
You can use it on many types of natural fabrics, especially ones like silk and wool, which can’t be used with bleach. Rit Color Remover is a great way to lighten or remove color from clothes without risking damage to the fabric.
Chlorine bleach is made with a mixture of water and sodium hypochlorite, which is a chlorine-based compound. Many people hear chlorine and immediately think of the chemical used in pools.
Chlorine bleach is also used to disinfect surfaces and items, killing 99% of germs. With its disinfectant properties, you can imagine that this is a strong chemical solution.
Aside from disinfecting, chlorine bleach can also be used to remove color from clothing. It won’t work for all fabrics, and the chemicals in bleach will cause your fibers to weaken, which may lead to damage on your fabrics.
The big thing to remember when working with bleach is to not mix it with anything else. Mixing bleach with other chemicals can lead to a toxic reaction.
Bleach should also not be mixed with hot water. We’ll go into more detail on how to use bleach for your clothes in the section below, but it’s important to keep in mind that hot water will cause the chlorine in the bleach to release toxic fumes.
How To Use Bleach To Whiten Colored Clothing
As we mentioned above, bleach can cause damage to your fabrics and may release toxic fumes if not used properly.
Always remember to wear disposable gloves when working with bleach to protect your skin. A little bleach on the skin is okay, but prolonged exposure and full immersion into a bleach solution will lead to skin irritation.
To get started, gather the following supplies:
- Regular bleach
- Disposable gloves
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Container for bleach solution soak
- Fabric for removing color
When you’ve gathered all of your supplies, be sure to put on a pair of the disposable gloves. You may also opt to use a respirator mask if you’re prone to respiratory illness or difficulties.
After putting on your safety gear, it’s time to get started!
- Fill a container with a solution of 1-part bleach to 4- or 5-parts cold water. You can try a lighter concentration of bleach first to try and reduce the amount of damage the bleach may do to your fibers.
- Submerge the clothing item into the bleach solution and let it soak for 5 minutes. Do not leave the clothing in for longer than 5 minutes. Even if it doesn’t look as light as you want, the bleach will continue working when you take the garment out. Your fabric will likely end up a shade or two lighter after you remove it from the bleach soak.
- Rinse well, then soak the fabric in a mix of 2-parts hydrogen peroxide to 10-parts water. It should remain in this solution for at least 10 minutes, if not a little longer. The hydrogen peroxide will neutralize the chlorine bleach and stop it from continuing to work, risking heavy damage to your fabrics.
- After your fabric is finished soaking in the hydrogen peroxide solution, rinse well.
- Wash and dry as usual.
You should notice the bleach working within the first 30 seconds to a minute.
If your fabric hasn’t changed color after the 5-minute soak, bleach won’t work on that fabric. It’s either been chemically treated or gone through a dye process that prevents you from removing the color.
What Fabrics To Use Bleach On For Whitening
Although bleach will cause a certain level of damage to the fibers of your fabric, it works best for certain fabrics like synthetic fibers. Some of the fabrics bleach is best for are cotton, polyester, rayon, acrylic, and nylon.
Keep in mind that just because bleach works on these fabrics in general, doesn’t mean it will work on every single garment made from that fiber. Some fabrics just aren’t able to be whitened.
Since Rit Color Remover doesn’t work on jeans (which are made from cotton), you can try bleaching jeans instead.
Never use bleach on silk, wool, leather, spandex, or mohair. These fabrics will not work with bleach and you will end up ruining the garment.
How To Choose Rit Color Remover Vs Bleach
If you’re wondering whether to use Rit Color Remover or bleach for your next project, the first thing to consider is the type of fabric you’re working with.
Make sure to use the right product for the right fabric. For example, Rit Color Remover will work on silk and wool, but bleach should be avoided.
The best thing to do is try using Rit Color Remover first. Since Rit Color Remover doesn’t damage fabrics, it’s safe to try, even if you’re unsure whether it will work.
If that doesn’t work, check the fabric to see if it’s safe to use with bleach. If so, try bleach! Never use bleach on the fabrics that are not safe to use with bleach: silk, wool, leather, spandex, and mohair.
For a project involving jeans, use bleach. Rit Color Remover doesn’t work on the indigo dye used to make blue jeans. Remember that both products are intended to be used for color removal only on fabrics you plan to re-dye.
The fabric will likely have an off-white or pastel version of the original color after the color removal process. This can look awkward on its own but can easily be disguised with a new dye.