How To Get Bleach Stain Out Of Clothes
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How To Get Bleach Stain Out Of Clothes

Bleach Stains
What is the cause of bleach stains? Well, bleach!

Before throwing them away, why not first learn about how to get bleach stains out of clothes?

Bleach is a standard household cleaning product that helps brighten clothes and remove stains. Ironically, the same product can be the very cause of a different, more difficult-to-handle type of stain on your clothes.

Dealing with this chemical is pretty challenging, but don’t lose hope! There are still many ways to salvage your garments. The trick here is to work quickly and know the proper methods. With that in mind, let’s look at some bleach-removing tips.

Why Does Bleach Create Stains?

Despite common belief, a bleach stain isn’t really a “stain”. When the beach contacts the fabric, it will either weaken the fibers or take the dye away from the material. And these so-called stains are, unfortunately, permanent.

1. White Clothes

White Clothes
It’s never easy to keep a white shirt white

Though bleach has the function of whitening clothes, overusing them on white clothes can damage the fabrics and turn them yellow – especially when used on synthetic fibers like polyester, nylon, or microfibers.

So, if your white shirt is no longer white, that might be because the chlorine bleach you have been using has returned the synthetic polymers to their natural color (which happens to be yellow).

However, your shirt might also turn yellow because of your deodorant and sweat/ body salts. So if you spot yellowing spots in the underarm area, over bleaching is not the cause of that. You just need to find another brand of antiperspirant, that’s all.

2. Colored Clothes

Colored Clothes
It’s hard to escape these accidents while using bleach

For colored clothes, the bleach will remove the color or dye from the material, leaving white spots or strips.

So when dealing with bleach stains on colored clothes, you’re not really removing the stains, that would be impossible since there is no stain in the first place. You are actually restoring the clothes back to their original color.

How To Pre-treat Fresh Bleach Stains For Optimal Results

The moment you spill bleach on your clothes, you must immediately remove and neutralize it. Waiting too long can create holes in your garments, and nobody wants that!

Here, I will present 2 methods to treat bleach stains and prevent them from getting worse.

1. Baking Soda

Baking Soda Is Ideal
Baking soda is ideal when it comes to treating fresh bleach stains

Baking soda can help neutralize the bleach with ease. Follow these instructions properly before any attempt to restore the color of your clothes.

Step 1: Rinse It

Give the clothes a good rinse under cold water to wash away excess bleach.

Step 2: Mix It

Grab a bowl and pour in 1 tablespoon of baking soda and a bit of water. Mix until they form a paste. Add more baking soda or water to change the consistency if needed.

Step 3: Spread It

Evenly spread the mixture on the stains and wait for it to dry. Then you can gently brush them off with an old toothbrush or clean cloth.

2. Dish Soap

White Dish Detergent
Liquid dish soap is just as effective

This is another accessible item that you can find in any household. But its effectiveness in treating fresh stains is undeniable.

Step 1: Rinse It

Similarly, give your clothes a cold rinse under running water to ensure no more bleach residue.

Step 2: Mix It

Pour some dish soap into a bowl of water and mix until it starts foaming.

Step 3: Apply It

Soak a clean cloth in soapy water. Then blot it onto the stains repeatedly. Don’t rub to avoid further damage. Afterward, pat it dry with a cloth or towel

And now, you can freely move on to the next steps.

Ways To Remove Bleach Stains From White Clothes

Bleach is one of the most recommended ways to keep white garments maintain their colors. So if your clothes lose their whiteness because you use this bleach, you will feel more or less, well, betrayed.

But don’t despair! There are still many ways to erase the ugly yellow stains and get that whiteness back.

1. Lemon Juice

Lemon Delicious And Helpful
Lemon juice, delicious AND helpful!

This is the mildest method to take away the yellow color from over bleaching. But since it is so mild, it only works on light and small stains. Be 100% sure that you have no bleach residue left on the clothes before continuing.

Step 1: Mix It

Combine a gallon of boiling water and ¼ to ½ cup of lemon juice in a large bucket.

Step 2: Soak It

Leave the clothes in the bucket to soak for 1-2 hours. Check to see if the spot is gone, let it sit for another hour if it’s too visible.

Step 3: Dry It

Try hanging it outside in the sunlight if that option is available to you. If not, your tumble dryer works just fine.

2. Vinegar

Vinegar Cleaning Supplies
Vinegar can be used but be mindful!

Vinegar is a very effective home treatment for bleach stains. However, if you plan on using this method, be absolutely certain that there is no more bleach left on the clothes. Bleach residue can mix with vinegar, forming toxic chlorine gas that can harm your health (1).

Follow the instructions above on how to treat fresh bleach stains carefully before moving on.

Step 1: Mix It

In a bowl, prepare 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Stir to combine.

Step 2: Apply It

Soak a clean cloth in the mixture. Continue to dab it repeatedly on the stains. Don’t drag it cause it might damage the fabric even more. The vinegar should reduce the intensity of the stains and make them look less visible.

Step 3: Dry It

When the stains are gone, let it sit for a while until the vinegar evaporates.

Step 4: Wash It

Give your clothes a wash to get the vinegar smell and residue out of them. Any detergent works fine. You can use your tumble dryer but if you can, try drying it under the sun.

Note: Be mindful when you’re using vinegar on cotton clothes, overusing it can damage cotton fabrics and ruin your clothes.

3. Sun-bleaching

Sun Bleaching
The UV rays can be beneficial too

Do you sometimes hear how you shouldn’t hang colored clothes in the sun too often? That is because ultraviolet rays discolor the clothes (2). So if your stains are light, this will be a natural and eco-friendly way to treat them.

Step 1: Wash It

Put the clothes in the washing machine and wash it with your detergent of choice.

Step 2: Dry It

Leave it in direct sunlight to dry, I recommend doing so at noon. Lay it flat on a table, try to avoid wrinkles so the color will be even. And you are done!

Remember that the stains won’t go away completely, this method will only fade the stain and make them less noticeable. Still, for a method that requires little work and products, I am quite pleased with the result.

How To Fix Small Bleach Stains On Colored Clothes

Keep in mind that these methods won’t restore the color completely, they can only make the white spots less visible and distracting. Therefore, these instructions work best on fresh and small stains. If the stains are too big and obvious, fabric dyes are needed.

1. Drinking Alcohol/ Rubbing Alcohol

Pouring Vodka
Alcohol, not just for drinking!

This is a suitable method when the stains are tiny. Rubbing alcohol or regular alcohol is quite similar. But if you go for the regular kind, stick with clear alcohol such as plain gin or vodka. Flavored or colored alcohol should not be used.

Step 1: Soak It

Pour the alcohol into a bowl. Then dip a cotton ball or cotton swab into the bowl to moisten it.

Step 2: Apply It

Dab the bleached area with the cotton ball/ cotton swab, then start rubbing the stains inward. You’re basically transferring the color from the outside to the bleached spot. The cotton ball has to stay moist the entire time for this to work. Dip it back in the alcohol if it dries out.

Continue to rub it until the bleached and unbleached places in your clothes are blended.

Step 3: Dry It

Allow your clothes to air dry until the alcohol evaporates. If you can still see the stains after drying, you can apply some more alcohol and treat it the same way.

Step 4: Wash It

Wash it with your favorite detergent to lift the alcohol smell and remove any alcohol residue.

2. Sodium Thiosulfate

If the stains are larger, treating them with Sodium Thiosulfate (also known as photographic fixer) is a better option. It is available at any pharmacy or department store. Finding it in online retailers works too.

Crystals Sodium Thiosulfate
Little crystals of Sodium Thiosulfate

Sodium Thiosulfate can neutralize the effects of bleach on fabric just like alcohol, but it is much stronger and more effective. So it can be used to treat bigger bleached spots.

Note: Sodium Thiosulfate is toxic, so you should wear gloves when working with it. Using a disposable bowl and spoon is recommended as well.

Step 1: Mix It

Take a bowl and pour in a cup of water and a tablespoon of Sodium Thiosulfate. Double the recipe if needed. Then, mix thoroughly until the Sodium Thiosulfate is dissolved.

Step 2: Apply It

Dip a clean cloth or cotton ball in the mixture and dab it on the stains. Do not rub it as you do with the alcohol. Sodium Thiosulfate is strong so it might damage the fabric if you rub too harshly. Continue dabbing until you are satisfied with the results.

Step 3: Rinse And Dry It

Rinse the clothes and check to see if the color is even, if you are not happy with it, repeat the second step. Afterward, allow it to dry.

Step 4: Wash It

Wash it the usual way and dry it completely. By then, the bleached spot will look more pleasing and less distracting.

Covering Up Bleach Stains From Colored Clothes With Fabric Dye

Don’t give up when the bleach stains are too big. You can still save the clothes from ending up in the trash can or charity bag if you invest in fabric dyes.

Nowadays, there are many types of fabric dyes available on the market so you can freely choose the most suitable one. However, every type of fabric dye requires you to match the color exactly.

Red Cotton Fabric
Pick the right color of dye for the best result

If you don’t trust your eyes and memory, you can perhaps bring that piece of clothing with you to the supermarket or craft store and just hold it up to see if it matches.

1. Fabric Dye

In this part, I will give you some tips on how to use 2 different types of fabric dye. Both are useful and effective. What matters here is your preference.

Liquid Fabric Dye

For this type, you’ll need some cotton swabs, latex gloves, and of course, the fabric dye that you have picked.

Step 1: Dip It

Dip a cotton swab in the fabric dye, only take a small amount each time.

Step 2:  Dye It

Gently press the cotton swab on the bleached area to dye it. You can also use your finger to spread out the color to make it even (this is why you need gloves).

Step 3: Dry It

Air dry it for 24 hours. Afterward, you can wash it using the washing machine and the color won’t go away.

Let’s have a look at a lively demonstration on how to use liquid fabric dye!

Watch this video: How to remove bleach stains from clothes

Powder Fabric Dye

For powder fabric dye, you’ll need a bowl, some salt, water, and yes, your dye of choice.

Step 1: Mix It

In a bowl, combine 2 teaspoons of salt, 2 teaspoons of powder dye, and 2 teaspoons of warm water. Remember the recipe, 2-2-2!

Mix it well to combine, you should have a thick paste by the end.

Step 2: Spread It

Once done, spread the mixture on the stains with a spoon. Make sure that they are fully covered. You can use your hand if you like but if that’s the case, make sure to wear gloves for extra protection.

Step 3: Dry It

Let it sit for about an hour. Different brands have different waiting times so you can read the instructions on the package just to be sure.

Step 4: Wash It

When it is dried, wash it the same way you treat regular clothes.

2. Fabric Markers

Fabric marker pens are also great for restoring the color of the bleach stains. It is more convenient, less messy, plus, you can also use them from Arts & crafts projects with your children afterward.

However, some say the colors of fabric markers aren’t as strong as liquid fabric dyes. So if you’re wondering which to pick, keep this fact in mind.

Step 1: Apply It

Lay your garments flat on the floor or table, you can put a piece of cardboard or a notebook between the layers to keep it flat. Then just color away!

Step 2: Dry It

Once the bleached area is fully covered, just let it sit for 24 hours before moving on. If you do it right, the color won’t go anywhere even after washing it multiple times.

If you don’t have fabric markers, you can use permanent markers as an alternative. However, they will eventually fade and come off after a few wash and dry cycles. Then you have to repeat the steps again.

Have a look at this to know how to fix bleach spots using permanent markers!

Watch this video: Fix bleach spots on clothing

Save Your Time By Preventing Bleach Stains

By now, I hope you have learned a lot of helpful information about dealing with bleach stains. However, treating bleach stains every day can be time-consuming and exhausting. So ideally, you should prevent this issue from ever happening again. Here’s how:

  • Always dilute bleach with water before using: Never pour bleach directly on your clothes cause it is extremely powerful. Remember to dilute it with water every time you use it.
  • Avoid spill mishaps: You must be extra careful when dealing with strong chemicals such as bleach. Put your laundry basket far away from the washer, wear gloves or aprons while bleaching, avoid splashing, and so on.
  • Always check the labels on your clothes: Not every piece of clothing can be used with bleach. The ones with delicate fabrics or colors should be kept away. Also, you should be careful when bleaching white clothes, only use the recommended amount.
  • Wear old clothes or protective clothes: When working with bleach, you shouldn’t wear your favorite garments in case of spillage. One tiny splash of bleach can stain and ruin them if you’re not careful.
  • Avoid leaving bleach residue in your washer: If you have used bleach in your washing machine, you have to make sure that there is no residue from the last cycle. Either you must clean the bleach dispenser or put your machine through a quick rinse cycle.
  • Use bleach alternative: Nowadays, there are bleach alternative detergents that you can purchase. They can help brighten your clothes, and they won’t create stains easily like bleach.
  • Avoid chlorine bleach: Oxygen bleach is more effective when dealing with colored clothes. So consider this when dealing with stains on clothes with color.
  • Use natural/ organic methods: Using too many chemical products is not healthy for your clothes. There are other organic options that you can use instead of bleach, like vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice,… and more. Sun-bleaching is also recommended.

If you need further instructions on how to white clothes using baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice, this can help!

Watch this video: How to white clothes using baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice


Still have some concerns? Scroll through these frequently asked questions to see if you can find what you need.

Are bleach stains tough to handle?

Yes, very. Bleach sets on clothes very quickly and once it is set, it becomes permanent. If the bleached area is too big, you might have to re-dye the clothes. So it can be quite troublesome.

Which fabric dye should I use?

Liquid/ powder fabric dyes and fabric markers are effective. However, with fabric markers, you can fix the stains in minutes without the need for gloves or cotton swabs… Liquid/ powder fabric dyes have better/ brighter colors but the drying process can get messy.

Why does my white shirt turn yellow?

That might be because you have overused bleach. Too much bleach on fabrics can damage the fabrics and can turn the clothes yellow. Do not use extra bleach to treat it, that will make it worse.

Instead, apply some vinegar or lemon juice to the stains and allow it to dry. Then wash it and dry it under the sun, the stains should fade and become white again.

What is the best way to remove bleach stains?

If you want to 100% restore the color, you need to dye the clothes using fabric dye. Follow the package’s instructions for optimum accuracy and your clothes are good to wash and use again.

Can I get bleach stains out of a T-shirt without fabric dye?

Yes, you can. But only if your stains are small and fresh. My favorite method is to apply alcohol to the stains and rub them inward until
the color blends together.

If the stains are too big and you don’t want to use fabric dye, then the only option, I think, is to embrace it and tie-dye the whole shirt

Let’s Sum It Up

With these tips in mind, bleach stains should no longer pose a significant threat to you and your clothes. And you can now know how to deal with this problem easily in the comfort of your own home.

Which of these methods do you enjoy the most? Or do you have any alternative techniques for removing bleach stains? Let me know in the comment section below.

Also, be sure to like and share this post if you find it useful. I wish you the best of luck and take care!

How To Get Bleach Stain Out Of Clothes


  1. Healthline, 2020. Why You Should Not Mix Bleach and Vinegar While Cleaning.
  2. Library of Congress, 2019. Why does ultraviolet light cause color to fade?

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Kevin Jones

Kevin Jones

Home Cleaning Specialist

Expertise: In-depth Knowledge of Cleaning Agents and Their Uses, Advanced Home Sanitization, Techniques Expertise in Cleaning and Maintaining, Various Floor Types, Innovations in Home Cleaning Tools

School: American College of Home Economics

Kevin Jones is a seasoned home cleaning specialist with over a decade of experience in the industry. A stickler for cleanliness and organization, Kevin brings a systematic and innovative approach to home maintenance. His expertise ranges from traditional methods to modern cleaning technology, ensuring homes are not just clean but healthy environments too.

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