Dad and child washing bleach stains out

How to Protect Your Clothes: Bleach Stain Removal

Bleach is your friend when you’re having a bit of a household revamp – it cleans toilets, kills bathroom mould, and can even brighten your old white trainers. But when you’re carried away with all the fun of scrubbing, it’s easy to miss the odd splash on your clothes. Then you’re left with a bleach stain to deal with.

While bleach stain removal might sound impossible, you can learn how to get rid of bleach stains on clothes – or at least make them less obvious. All that’s left then is to get back to cleaning (or something more exciting).

How to get rid of bleach stains on clothes

First things first, bleach stains aren’t really stains. They’re pale patches on your clothes where the dye has been removed by the active ingredients in the bleach. That means there’s no way of washing bleach stains out of your clothes, but there are plenty of ways to help cover them up.

Before you start, a couple of important things to remember: be sure to test your bleach stain removal technique on a small area of the garment, and read the labels on clothes and products before you wash or use them.

1. Alcohol: This one is particularly effective on smaller stains and dark fabrics. Apply a few drops of alcohol (pure alcohol – vodka won’t cut it here) on an absorbent pad and gently rub it over the stain and surrounding fabric. Keep rubbing until the fabric colour starts to spread, covering up the stain.

2. Fabric marker: If you happen to find a fabric marker in the exact same colour as your stained shirt, bleach stain removal can potentially be as simple as carefully colouring in the stained area. You can find these markers in most craft and fabric stores, and they’re usually washing machine safe too. Just check the label.

3. Dye: Another possible bleach stain remover is fabric dye. This method gives you two options – you either dye the bleached area, or you dye the entire item of clothing.

If you go for the latter option, you must get rid of all remaining dye on the fabric with a colour remover. This usually means filling up a tub with hot water, adding the colour remover, and soaking the garment for at least 30 minutes. Don’t forget to follow the instructions, wear gloves, and work in a well-ventilated area.

Once finished, remove the garment, rinse the tub, and refill with cold water and your chosen dye before soaking your clothing again.

How to protect clothes from bleach

Even though you know what to do the next time your clothes and bleach have an unhappy encounter, prevention is always better than the cure. So, how can you protect your fabrics from bleach?

  • Always consult the safety instructions on the bleach bottle before use. 
  • When using bleach, avoid wearing delicate fabrics like wool. It’s generally best to wear things that are already damaged, or to put on a protective layer such as an apron or an old shirt. 
  • Never forget to wear rubber gloves! Bleach can be damaging to your skin, as well as your clothes. 
  • It’s not just regular bleach you have to be careful with; cleaning products containing bleach have the same effect on clothes, so don’t take any chances. 
  • Never mix bleach with something other than water as it could create toxic gases. 
  • Store bleach safely away from children and pets. 

With these tips, there’s no reason to panic if you splash a little bleach on your clothes. There’s always a way out.