How to Remove Bleach Stains

Properly diluted bleach quickly whitens clothing and linens. However, certain conditions may cause chlorine bleach to leave yellow stains on whites. The iron deposits in water may interact with chlorine bleach, leaving a yellow color or rust stains on clothing, according to New Mexico State University. It may also react to certain types of stains, leaving a yellow spot.

Remove Bleach Stains

Removing Bleach Stains from Fabric

There are many methods for removing the bleach stains from white fabrics. All methods involve gently bleaching using a non-chlorine treatment. Start with the mildest treatment. If the stain persists, move on to a stronger treatment. This prevents unnecessary wear to the fabric fibers. 

What You'll Need Before You Start: 

  • Salt
  • Lemon Juice
  • White vinegar
  • Clean, white cloth
  • Commercial dye remover
  • Commercial rust remover

To remove small bleach stains from white fabrics, sprinkle the stained area with table salt. Dampen a clean, white cloth with lemon juice and use to dampen the stained area. Dry in the sun, and then rinse thoroughly. The combination of the salt, lemon juice and sunlight should gently bleach the yellowed area. 

White vinegar gently neutralizes bleach residues and helps dissolve the yellow color remaining on white fabrics. Dampen a clean white cloth with white vinegar from the kitchen pantry. Blot the stain until it is thoroughly saturated with vinegar. Rinse with cold water and repeat until the yellow color is removed. If the entire garment is yellowed, you can soak it in a bucket of white vinegar and then rinse under cold water. Repeat until the fabric is no longer yellow. 

Stubborn bleach stains often require the use of a commercial dye remover or commercial rust remover. Wash the fabric prior to using the dye or rust remover in order to thoroughly remove any bleach that could react with the chemicals found in the removers. Follow package directions for using the removers to whiten fabric.

Repairing Bleach Damage from Fabric

When bleach spills on colored fabrics, it isn't technically a bleach stain. It is an area where the dye has been removed from the fabric. Although the bleaching is often irreversible, there are several methods that may help to reduce the damage or restore the color to the fabric. 

What You'll Need Before You Start:

  • Sodium thiosulfate
  • Clean, white cloth
  • White vinegar
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Commercial dye remover
  • Fabric dye

Treating a bleach spill immediately with sodium thiosulfate neutralizes the effects of chlorine bleach and reduces the damage to the fabric. Sodium thiosulfate can be purchased in the aquarium section of pet stores. Saturate a white cloth with the chemical and blot onto the spill area until the fabric is saturated. Rinse with cold water. In an emergency, vinegar can be substituted to neutralize the bleach, but it may not be as effective. If there is a removal of the dye from the area, steps should be taken to repair the damage. 

Rubbing alcohol can help to loosen the dye on a fabric and allow you to fix a stained area. The process may leave the entire garment slightly faded, but is often effective for masking white spots on dark fabrics. Soak a white cloth in rubbing alcohol and rub around the stained area. Move inwards over the damaged area to distribute the original color back to the area. Once the area is fixed, allow to dry thoroughly and then wash according to label directions. 

Bleach damage that is severe and untreatable using other methods may be reversed by re-dying the fabric. First, remove all color from the fabric using a commercial dye remover. This allows for an even application of fabric dye. After removing the color, dye using a fabric dye according to manufacturer directions. 

Stains and Damage to Carpet

What You'll Need Before You Start:

  • White vinegar
  • Whitening toothpaste
  • Spray bottle of tap water
  • Clean, white cloth
  • Paper towels
  • Fabric markers or dye

Bleach and chlorine bleach products can cause spotted damage to carpeting. When a spill occurs, immediately saturate a clean, white cloth with vinegar and gently blot the carpet. Continue blotting until the tufts are thoroughly wet. Avoid excessive vinegar application as the vinegar could damage the glue in the carpet base. Rinse the area by spraying with tap water and blotting with paper towels.

If white carpet begins to show signs of yellowing, gently apply whitening toothpaste to the area. Rub into the fibers gently with your fingers, massaging the individual tufts. Allow to remain on carpet for ten minutes. Rinse with water and blot with paper towels, repeating until all of the toothpaste is removed. Allow to dry. 

Colored carpets with light spots from bleach spills may require dying to correct the bleached area. Fabric markers and dyes may effectively cover stained areas. Test in a hidden area, such as inside a closet, to determine how the marker or dye will affect the colored carpet area. Carefully apply to only the lightened tufts of the carpet. Follow manufacturer directions for setting the dye. 

When bleach spills, fabrics and carpeting is often damaged. But you can remove bleach stains and repair bleach damage on many different types of fabric and carpeting.