How to Bleach Colored Clothing

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While getting bleach on colored clothing is often something we try to avoid, sometimes there are good reasons to bleach our clothing: to save something that has been stained, to dye it, or remake it into an entirely new outfit or style. Unfortunately, bleaching clothes is not always as easy as laundry mishaps would have us believe. To ensure you are successful in bleaching your colored clothing and achieving the desired effect, you need to use the proper procedure.

How to Bleach Colored Clothing
(Jackie R. Higgins/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

  • Clothing
  • Bleach
  • Washing machine
  • Plastic wrap
  • Spray bottle
  • Fabric tape
Step 1

Read the clothing label. Some fabrics, such as wool, silk, acetate or spandex, are delicate and may not survive a bleaching. Colorfast fabrics, such as polyester or poly-cotton blends, are often bleach-proof, and bleaching them may result in uneven bleaching, or they might be completely resistant to bleach. The best types of fabrics to bleach are any type of cotton, rayon or linen.

Jackie R. Higgins/Demand Media
Step 2

Allow the washer to fill with water first, then add the bleach and your fabric to the water. Don't apply bleach directly to the fabric if you want it bleached evenly. If you want to color to fade, add half a cup of bleach and allow the machine to proceed to the wash and rinse cycle. To remove color completely, add one cup of bleach and allow it to soak for 20 minutes before proceeding to the wash and rinse cycle.

Jackie R. Higgins/Demand Media
Step 3

Repeat the process, if necessary, to achieve the desired look. Some darker fabrics require additional bleaching to remove all of the color.

Jackie R. Higgins/Demand Media
Step 4

Spot-bleach fabrics by spraying bleach directly onto the fabric with a spray bottle. Mix half a cup of bleach with 2 cups of water. If there are any parts of the fabric you do not want bleached, protect them by covering those areas with plastic wrap and fabric tape.

Jackie R. Higgins/Demand Media
Step 5

Protect your work space or take your item outside so that you don't accidentally spill bleach on carpets or damage furniture surfaces. Spray the bleach mixture until it is absorbed into the fabric. Alternatively, you could sponge, splash, brush or sprinkle the bleach mixture onto the fabric; or dip the fabric in the solution.

Jackie R. Higgins/Demand Media
Step 6

Allow the soaked fabric to sit for a few minutes, but no more than 10. Once you've reached the color you want, wash the fabric in a washing machine to halt the bleach effect.

Jackie R. Higgins/Demand Media
Step 7

Run the garment through an extra rinse cycle to remove all traces of bleach.

Jackie R. Higgins/Demand Media

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