Is There A Good Way To Save Bleach-Stained Clothing?

When using bleach in the home, we all know that we need to be careful. You should never use bleach when wearing your favorite clothes, but what if you find that you somehow managed to drip some on an item, leaving a pale blotch? Is your newly bleach-stained garment completely ruined? While bleach stains are in fact permanent — there is something that can be done to salvage your clothing after it becomes stained.

Bleach stain isn't exactly a stain, rather it's a loss of pigmentation, so the only way to remedy this is to neutralize the bleach and then re-add the dye. Once bleach makes contact with fabric, it oxidizes the dye and breaks up the pigment molecules, also known as chromophores. This causes the affected area to become colorless. There are a few different methods for minimizing the damage done and reintroducing color whether the garment is light or dark in color. Further, most of the ingredients for these processes are already in your home.

How to fix a bleach stain on dark and light clothing

The first thing is to neutralize the bleach so it doesn't deteriorate the fabric by sitting on it too long. To do this, mix enough water and baking soda together to create a paste. Spread it over the bleach stain and let it dry before rinsing it clean. If your white garment has a yellow stain from bleach, try rinsing the fabric thoroughly for a few minutes, then pour white vinegar over the stains. Bleach shouldn't mix with white vinegar so make sure to rinse it out completely so all of the bleach is gone before you add the vinegar. After the vinegar soaks for five minutes, rinse with cold water. 

You can also try mixing about three or four squeezes of liquid dish soap in one cup of water and mixing it together. Saturate a rag in this solution and rub the stain. Work from the outside toward the middle. Rinse thoroughly with water. Continue washing your garment with water and treating it with the soap solution until the stain is gone.

If you have a bleach stain on a darker-colored piece of clothing, you can try dabbing it with some rubbing alcohol. Then take a cotton swab and use it to rub the color from around the stain into the bleached area. The alcohol will pull some of the dye from your garment onto the bleach to help it look less noticeable. Let your garment air dry.

What to do as a last resort

If none of that works, you'll have to bring out the big guns — fabric dye. This involves finding a fabric dye that's as close to your garment's original color as possible. You'll also have to make sure that the dye you choose is suitable for the type of fabric. Before you get your hopes up, be forewarned that bleached clothing is difficult to dye. Even after dying, the mark left by the bleach stain could still be visible, and the new color in your garment can come out uneven. 

If you want to try to salvage the garment by dying it, start with some color remover. This will pull as much of the original dye off of the garment as possible. Doing this will lighten the fabric and make it easier to dye afterward. It will also help the rest of your garment better blend with the bleach stain. Once you've applied the color remover, you can color your fabric according to the directions from the dye manufacturer.