Bleach is a common ingredient in household cleaning products that helps us keep our whites bright and our homes free from germs and bacteria. However, it’s also a chemical that can leave unfortunate stains on our clothing. Spotted a bleach stain on your clothes? Don’t panic. Here you can find out how to remove bleach stains from clothes and save them from the bin or charity bag.
How to get bleach stains out of clothes: Is it possible?
Unfortunately, a bleach stain is permanent. Once bleach has made contact with a fabric, the stain will have set, stripping the colour or dye from the fabric. When it comes to removing bleach stains, the approach you should take is one of restoring the colour that has been lost rather than removing the stain. First things first, you need to neutralise the bleach as it could cause a hole in the fabric if left on it for too long:
- Rinse the area with cold water to remove any excess bleach
- Create a thick paste by mixing together some baking soda and water
- Spread this over the stain evenly
- Leave to dry and then brush off gently – you may want to use an old toothbrush
After you’ve neutralised the stain you can try restoring the colour with one of the following techniques.
1. Rubbing alcohol
This technique is most suitable for small stains on dark clothes.
- Apply some rubbing alcohol (available from pharmacists) to a cotton wool ball
- Gently rub the area around the bleach stain with the cotton wool ball
- Then, start to rub the cotton wool ball from the outside of the stain towards the centre. The original colour of the item should start to spread to the stained area as the alcohol loosens the excess dye in the fabric
2. Fabric dye
This technique works for small and large stains but you need to match colours carefully.
- Go to your local supermarket or craft store and buy a dye that matches the colour of your item as closely as possible
- Before re-dying your garment, purchase a colour remover and use it on your item to remove all of the original dye. Follow the instructions carefully to get as good a result as possible – this is important for helping your new dye stick
- Re-dye your garment with your chosen colour, following the instructions on the dye’s packaging. Most dyes can be used in your washing machine, or in a plastic wash bowl, if you prefer. Remember to wear old clothes and gloves when dying your clothes to prevent any unwanted stains – although if that does happen, our advice on getting dye out of clothes can help
How to prevent bleach stains
Instead of taking actions to repair or remove bleach stains, ideally you want to prevent them happening in the first place. Remember the following:
- If using bleach in your laundry, make sure all care labels state that the items are bleach-safe. Bleach can be great for whitening and disinfecting clothes, and treating spot stains – find out more about how to bleach clothes safely here
- Never pour bleach directly on to clothes. Always dilute it with water, following the instructions on the product’s label
- Avoid washing coloured clothes with bleach as it can cause fading or discolouration. Only detergents containing colour-safe bleach should be used for colours. Alternatively, if you want to keep colours vibrant, it’s a good idea to use a good colour care detergent, like Persil Powercaps Colour washing capsules
- When cleaning with bleach, wear old clothes so that it doesn’t matter if you accidentally get bleach on them. You should also always wear rubber gloves when handling bleach
- If you’re cleaning an area in your home with bleach, remember to tell others in your household so they can avoid brushing up against surfaces cleaned with it or accidentally knocking over bleach cleaning products and spilling them on their clothes
Remember: use biocides safely. Always read the label and product information before use. Tacking care when using bleach helps prevent bleach stains and eradicates the need to know how to remove bleach stains, making life much simpler for you. Find out more about using different kinds of bleach in the laundry here.