It’s a well-known fact that bleach and black material are a match made in hell! But sometimes the two collide and leave our black clothing with a milky white or pinkish stain that is the type of stain that won’t come out in the wash. So what to do?
So, you have a few options and the success of each depends on the type of bleach used and how severe the stain is.
First things first; the reason a bleach stain won’t come out of black clothing is because it isn’t actually a stain. Instead it permanently removes the color of the dye on darker fabrics.
So, what you see on your favorite black t-shirt is actually a chemical removal of its dyes. Therefore, normal cleaning methods will not work to remove the problem.
But all is not lost. There are a few methods (and products) that will help you restore your tarnished clothing back to its original dark glory.
- How to Remove Dye From Dark/Black Fabric
- What You’ll Need:
- Method 1 – Baking Soda
- Method 2 – Liquid/Dish Soap
- Method 3 – Rubbing Alcohol
- Method 4 – Fabric Dye
- Method 5 – Fabric Marker
- Method 6 – Drinking Vodka
- Method 7 – White Vinegar
- Method 8 – Diluted Sodium Thiosulfate
- Method 9 – Get Creative!
- Preventing Bleach Marks in the Future
- Time to Say Bye-Bye to Bleach?
- What is Bleach Made Of?
- Side-Effects of Bleach
- Bleach Safety
There may be affiliate links in this article. You can read more about this in my disclosure.
How to Remove Dye From Dark/Black Fabric
What You’ll Need:
- Rubbing alcohol
- Liquid soap/Dish soap
- White vinegar
- Fabric dye
- Permanent fabric marker
- Cotton buds
- Baking soda
- Clean cloth
- Color remover
- Rubber gloves
Method 1 – Baking Soda
So, bleach is pretty tough stuff, so there’s no way of actually getting rid of it. Instead you’ll need to neutralize it. Here’s how:
- Mix baking soda and water to create a paste.
- Put the mixture on the stain.
- Allow the paste to dry.
- Scrap the paste off gently. Be mindful that bleach may have eroded the fabric slightly, so excess scrubbing – particularly on a delicate fabric – may cause a hole to appear eventually.
- Wash your garment as normal.
- Repeat the process until the bleach mark is no longer obvious.
Method 2 – Liquid/Dish Soap
You can also work to remove bleach stains and residue from white clothes with dish soap. You’ll need a bit of liquid soap (dish soap will do) and a cloth.
Please note: this method may not be successful if the bleach mark is particularly powerful or potent. It is also advisable to wear protective items, such as rubber gloves and a mask, when handling chemicals such as bleach.
- Add 3-4 squirts of soap to a cup of water.
- Mix the two well.
- Dip the cloth in the mixture.
- Work it over the bleach stain starting from the outside in.
- Rinse and repeat as necessary until all residue is gone.
Method 3 – Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is a good way to neutralize the bleach. To do so, try this:
- Dip your cotton swab into the rubbing alcohol and rub the cotton swab around the bleach stain, pulling the color from the surrounding areas into the white (bleached) area.
- Continue this until the dye is completely transferred to the bleached area.
- Allow the garment to air dry.
You might notice that the bleached area is still a bit lighter than the surrounding area. If so, use a fabric dye/marker to correct this.
Method 4 – Fabric Dye
If none of the above methods work or you have a large stain, and the fabric isn’t damaged, then you can try dyeing the garment back to its original color. Here’s a guide on how:
- Find a fabric dye that matches the color of your garment.
- Use the color remover by following the instructions. Don’t skip this step!
- Re-dye the item following the instructions on the package of your dye (if needed)
- Allow the dye to set for as long as the instructions recommend.
Method 5 – Fabric Marker
Fabric markers were designed for mishaps such as these, and can be a godsend for black garments! You can pick one up at your local laundry service or hardware store.
This can be a great method if you’re pushed for time and need a quick and effective solution, or if the bleach mark is relatively small.
- Find a fabric marker as close to the color of the bleached area as possible.
- Use the pen to color in the bleached area.
- Follow the directions on the packaging for washing.
If a fabric marker isn’t available, a permanent marker can also work. But this doesn’t hold up in the wash as well as a fabric marker, so you may need to stay on top of the problem by keeping the marker handy after each wash.
Method 6 – Drinking Vodka
You can use any clear drinking alcohol, such as vodka or gin, to ‘leach’ color back into a bleached area in your clothes.
- Use a neutralizer such as baking soda to make sure the bleach is no longer active.
- Use a cotton swab or a clean rag to saturate the alcohol over the stained area, using a rotating motion to cross from the stained area into the dyed area. This should pull the color back into the bleached area.
- When the white spot is fully colored, rinse the area with cold water.
- Wash the garment as you usually would to get rid of the boozy smell that may be left behind!
Method 7 – White Vinegar
Distilled white vinegar does a great job lifting away bleach residue.
To remove bleach stains from clothes using white vinegar, follow these steps:
- Make sure you use a neutralizing agent like baking soda first. You should never mix bleach and vinegar acutely.
- Mix one tablespoon of distilled white vinegar with two cups of cool water.
- Use a clean white cloth or cotton ball soaked in this vinegar solution to blot the stained area.
- Use a dry cloth to soak up the moisture.
- After the garment dries, make sure you rinse the fabric and then wash it well to protect the cloth fibers from further corrosion.
Method 8 – Diluted Sodium Thiosulfate
Diluted sodium thiosulfate, which can be purchased at most department stores, will act as a neutralizer to bleach marks. You’ll need to do the following:
- Mix together one tablespoon of sodium thiosulfate with one cup of water. It is recommended to use a disposable bowl and spoon, or some you don’t eat with. Sodium thiosulfate is extremely toxic.
- Wearing protective gloves, dip a clean white cloth in the solution.
- Blot the stain until the fabric starts to absorb the diluted sodium thiosulfate. Do not rub.
- If the bleach isn’t lifting, rinse the area under cold water and repeat the previous instructions. This may take several attempts on a particularly stubborn stain.
- Wash and dry the garment as normal.
Method 9 – Get Creative!
So, you’ve exhausted all the above methods, and nothing has worked – and you’re not ready to admit defeat yet! If you’re not ready to part with your stained garment, you’ll need to think of some other ways of at least masking the bleach mark.
These can include:
- Hide the bleached spot by sewing on motifs, patches, etc., over the area to hide it.
- Cover it with a badge, pin, fake flower, etc.
- Repurpose the item to make it into something else (lampshade cover, handkerchief, etc.)
- Tie-dye! If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?!
Preventing Bleach Marks in the Future
So, we all know bleach is a really useful household item, particularly for cleaning, but sometimes it can be hazardous when met with various materials. Ways to avoid bleach mishaps in the future include:
- 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 various stains.
- But it should not be used carelessly during the laundry process, and should only be used on light fabrics.
- Never pour bleach directly onto clothes. Always dilute it with water, following the instructions on the product’s label – and use gloves when handling.
- Avoid washing coloured clothes with bleach as it can cause fading or discolouration.
- When cleaning with bleach, wear old clothes so that it doesn’t matter if you accidentally get bleach on them. Make sure children and pets are out of the way too.
- Never leave bleach with the top off.
Time to Say Bye-Bye to Bleach?
Bleach is a dangerous substance, particularly if misused or if it ends up in the wrong hands (i.e.: your little ones’), so it could be time to look into other alternatives to bleach. If nothing else, this will prevent any other dark clothing accidents!
Alternatives to bleach include:
- Baking Soda
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Tea Tree Oil
- Castile Soap
- Sunlight/Solar power
- Distilled White Vinegar
- Oxygen-Based Bleach
What is Bleach Made Of?
There are different types of bleach designed for different purposes, but your average household bleach contains the following: ~3-6% sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl), which is mixed with small amounts of sodium hydroxide, hydrogen peroxide, and calcium hypochlorite.
Its main use is to remove colour, whiten or disinfect clothing or surfaces, and is invaluable in most modern kitchens and bathrooms.
Liquid bleaching agents based on sodium hypochlorite were developed in 1785 by the Frenchman Claude Louis Berthollet (picture, left). It was then introduced to the population by the Javel company under the name liqueur de Javel.
At first, it was used to bleach cotton, but soon became a popular compound for bleaching other clothing materials since it was quickly found that the sodium hypochlorite could remove stains from clothes at room temperature.
In France, sodium hypochlorite is still known as eau de Javel.
Side-Effects of Bleach
Dangerous chemicals such as bleach come with consequences if misused, depending on where the bleach is encountered. Some of the health risks that come from bleach include:
- Breathing – People using chlorine-containing household products such as laundry bleach are not usually exposed to chlorine gas when bleach is used as directed on the label. However, you can be exposed to harmful levels of chlorine gas if bleach is mixed with products that contain acid, such as toilet bowl cleaner, or products that contain ammonia.
- Drinking – People can be harmed by drinking products that contain high amounts of bleach.
- Drinking water from a municipal water supply has very low levels of chlorine; not enough to be a risk to your health.
- Touching – Chlorine can irritate or burn the skin, especially moist areas such as the mouth. Chlorine does not absorb very well into the skin, but a small amount can pass through.
- Eye contact – Your eyes can be exposed to chlorine in the air or through contact with water that contains chlorine. Moisture on the eye combines with chlorine to form an acid, causing burning and irritation.
Bleach can be a useful item to have around the house, as long as it is treated with respect:
- Never buy bleach if the safety seal is broken
- Keep it out of the way of children and pets
- Always keep it in its original container. NEVER convert to an unmarked food storage item.
- Avoid contact with skin, eyes, and mouth.
- Wear PPE when using bleach extensively to protect skin and lungs.
So, we have learned that there are several methods for treated black clothing articles that have come into contact with bleach, and most of them are items you will have under your sink, so this shouldn’t entail any costly trips to the local laundry service or dry-cleaners!
In order to remove bleach, you will need a neutralizer (such as baking powder) and a lifting agent (such as rubbing alcohol). These methods can be really effective, but they may take more than one attempt to fully eradicate the bleach.
Bleach is a potent and dangerous chemical, so it should be treated with respect, and should always be kept out of the way of children and pets.
There are other safer options than bleach, such as lemons or vinegar.
Last update on 2022-07-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API