Did you bleach your favorite white shirt, towel, or tablecloth, only to be surprised by yellow stains on the fabric?
Bleach is supposed to make whites whiter, so it can be quite shocking when your favorite shirt acquires an unappealing yellow tinge. The good news is you can restore the color of your shirt and other white fabric with a few hacks.
So, if you’ve wondered how can I get fabric that has yellowed from bleach white again? I will show you a few steps you can take. Removing the stains might require your time and patience if the stains have been on for a long time. Fresh stains are generally easier to remove.
Let’s get started!
Why Did My White Clothes Turn Yellow After Washing?
Ideally, the fabric should maintain its vibrant white color after washing your white clothes using bleach. But, sometimes, you may remove your clothes from the washer only to realize that the whites have acquired yellow stains.
This can be such a shocker! Why do white clothes turn yellow after using bleach? Well, improper use of bleach can result in yellowing instead of whitening.
Bleach contains chlorine, a powerful acidic component that penetrates fabrics and weakens dirt molecules, allowing them to be easily washed away with water, leaving the fabric squeaky clean.
But, to get the desired results, you must use chlorine-based bleach correctly. For starters, avoid pouring bleach directly on the fabric. Instead, it would help if you mix bleach with water and soak the fabric for the recommended time.
Soaking fabric too long in a bleach solution increases the risk of yellowing. In most cases, soaking your clothes in the bleach solution for a few minutes will remove even stubborn stains.
Another reason why clothes turn yellow after washing is using too much bleach. It is tempting to double up on the bleach when you want to get rid of a stubborn stain. But excessive chlorine will ruin your fabric and cause more stains.
Have you ever tried washing stained clothes without soaking them first? Doing this is a big reason why white clothes turn yellow. It is best to first remove the stain by soaking the fabric in the right amount of bleach solution for a few minutes before cleaning the fabric.
The chlorine in bleach is a very powerful chemical. While it helps to break down stubborn stains and leave your whites sparkling, chlorine can also stain your clothes if you do not follow wash instructions.
In the next section, I explain how you can get fabrics that have yellowed from bleach white again. Keep in mind that fresh or recent bleach stains are generally easier to remove than old ones. The upside is most of the products for removing these stains are readily available in your pantry.
How To Get Yellowed Fabric White Again
Follow these steps to brighten fabrics that have yellowed from bleach.
Step 1: Remove excess bleach
If the bleach stain is fresh, the first thing you should do is rinse out the excess bleach. A major reason for fabric turning yellow after washing is using too much bleach or pouring the bleaching agent directly onto the fabric.
Removing the excess bleach stops the stain from worsening. Also, the less chlorine there is on the fabric, the safer it will be to use other cleaning products. Some products, such as vinegar, can cause a toxic reaction when mixed with bleached.
To remove the excess bleach, rinse the fabric in plain room-temperature water. One rinse is enough, but you should rinse it twice if you have used too much bleach in the first place.
Step 2: Use a neutralizing agent
A neutralizing agent stops the bleaching action, especially if the bleach stain is fresh. Neutralizing also helps when trying to brighten old yellow stains on the fabric.
A safe and easily accessible neutralizing agent is baking soda. It helps loosen the stains, making cleaning the fabric easier and restoring it to its natural color.
Make a baking soda paste by mixing a cup of the powder with half a cup of water. Add more water or powder as needed to make a paste.
Apply the paste on the bleach stains. Baking soda is generally safe, so you can use your fingers to apply the paste on specific spots on the fabric. Alternatively, you may use an old toothbrush for application.
Allow the fabric to air dry for about 30 minutes for the paste to dry. Next, rinse the fabric or the portions where you have applied the paste to eliminate the residue.
After rinsing the fabric, you will notice that the stains are less pronounced. If the stains are old and particularly stubborn, you may have to repeat this neutralization process to remove the yellow tint on the fabric.
Hydrogen peroxide (3%) is an excellent alternative to baking soda to remove a fabric’s yellow stains. Mix one cup of hydrogen peroxide with 10 cups of water. Then, soak the stained fabric in the hydrogen peroxide mixture for about ten minutes. Next, rinse the fabric to remove the hydrogen peroxide. The stains should be less visible after this.
Step 3: Remove small stains using rubbing alcohol
If you are dealing with small yellow bleach stains, consider using rubbing alcohol for spot cleaning. First, be sure to rinse the fabric to remove excess bleach. Then use a neutralizing agent to slow down the effects of the bleach and lift the stain.
Removing the extra bleach prevents a potentially toxic reaction between chlorine and rubbing alcohol. So take your time with this step to prevent adverse reactions.
Once the fabric is bleach-free and neutralized, pinch a clean swab of cotton, soak it with rubbing alcohol and dab it on the yellow stain. Dab the cotton swab with rubbing alcohol for 3 to 5 minutes to brighten yellow stains instantly.
Keep in mind that a little goes a long way for chloride-based bleach and rubbing alcohol. Once the stain is clear, you can rinse the fabric and allow it to dry as normal.
Step 4: Brighten the fabric using a bluing agent
A bluing agent is the best option for minimizing yellowing on a fabric. This laundry product contains blue pigmentation that lifts the yellow tint from bleach stains, leaving the fabric looking brighter.
As the name suggests, the bluing agent will only make the fabric appear slightly brighter by giving it a bluish tint. The only downside is that the product does not completely eliminate stains, so you might have to use it severally to keep the fabric looking bright.
A bluing agent is a great solution for larger stains or if the entire fabric is yellowed from the bleach. Avoid pouring the product directly on the fabric or washing machine, as this will stain the fabric further. Like bleach, mix the bluing agent with cold water before soaking clothes in the mixture. Follow the mixing instructions on the product.
You should avoid adding fabric softener or bleach when using a bluing agent. If you must use another laundry product, it should be laundry detergent only. The bluing agent will be ineffective when mixed with other products, such as bleach or softener.
After cleaning the fabric using the bluing agent, rinse it thoroughly to avoid leaving blue streaks on the fabric. Remember that you may have to use a bluing agent severally to maintain a bright appearance.
Tips to Prevent Fabric From Yellowing From Bleach
Seeing your favorite white shirt or towel turn yellow can be disappointing. In the future, you can prevent this by being diligent with how you use bleach.
- First, avoid pouring bleach directly on your fabrics. Doing this does not remove stains; it actually worsens the stains and contributes to yellowing. Instead, mix the chlorine-based bleach with water, then soak your whites in the mixture. Always follow the mixing instructions on the bleaching product.
- Secondly, use the right amount of bleach. Too much bleach will not whiten your whites; it will weaken the fibers and yellow the material. Bleaching products come with instructions on how much to use for a specific quantity of clothes. Remember to pour bleach in the correct slot in the washing machine dispenser.
- Third, avoid soaking clothes for too long in bleach. Ideally, 30 minutes is enough for a bleach solution to lift the stains off the fabric. Be sure to thoroughly clean the fabric using clean, room-temperature water to ensure all the bleach is out before drying the fabric.
- Lastly, minimize the number of times you use bleach on your garments. You do not need to clean white garments with bleach every time; this will definitely result in yellowing. It is best to use bleach when removing stains from the fabric or after a couple of washes.
Summary: How Can I Get Fabrics That Have Yellowed From Bleach White Again?
I hope this guide helps you to get fabrics that have yellowed from bleach white again. Follow the tips I have outlined here to prevent yellowing in the future so you can keep your whites white for longer.