When chlorine bleach comes in direct contact with clothing or other fabric items it can leave an unsightly yellow discoloration. This discoloration can be difficult or impossible to remove, depending on the fabric. You stand the best chance of removing bleach stains from white clothing, while colored clothes -- especially synthetics -- may be beyond redemption. Before tossing the clothes in the garbage, though, try removing the yellow spots to restore the look of the clothing.
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A common and inexpensive laundry booster, chlorine bleach whitens whites and disinfects hard surfaces. Furthermore, chlorine bleach eliminates fungus such as mold and mildew from most surfaces. Chlorine bleach contains sodium hypochlorite and can discolor and damage fibers, fabric and other hard surfaces. Typically, bleach leaves a yellowish spot on the surface, which can occur within a few seconds on contact. Chlorine bleach is corrosive and can strip away dye from colored fabrics. Always read clothing labels before using chlorine bleach in the wash.
Found near the dyes at discount and grocery stores, commercial color removers can help remove the yellow discoloration and restore the look of white clothing. Dilute 1/4 tsp. of commercial color remover with 1/2 cup of cold water in a plastic container. Place the white clothing on top of a white towel with the bleach stain facing up. If you use a colored towel, the color remover-mixture will discolor the towel. Dip the corner of a white cloth in the mixture and begin blotting the yellow stain. Start at the edge of the stain and blot while making your way toward the center. Continue in this manner until the yellow discoloration disappears. Remove the color remover from the clothing by holding the fabric under cool running water for several minutes. If you let the mixture sit on the fabric for a long period of time, it could eat away at the clothing.
Commonly used in the photo developing process, sodium thiosulfate is available at photo centers and drugstores. Sponge the yellow discolorations with a cloth dampened in the sodium thiosulfate. Begin blotting the edge of the yellow discolorations with the damp cloth until the stain is no longer visible. To prevent the sodium thiosulfate from damaging the colored clothing, rinse the area clean with cool running water. Remember that yellow bleach stains are not always reversible on colored clothing. If the sodium thiosulfate does not remove the yellow discoloration, the clothing is beyond restoration.
The best defense against bleach stains is not to use chlorine bleach. Instead, replace harsh and toxic chlorine bleach with oxygen bleach. Replace every cup of chlorine bleach with a cup of the safer alternative known as oxygen bleach. Oxygen bleach contains sodium percarbonate, which will not discolor fabrics. Furthermore, oxygen bleach does not contain harsh, toxic chemicals and is safe to use in and around your home. If chlorine bleach does come in contact with clothing, flush the item thoroughly with cool water for several minutes to reduce the damaging effects of the bleach. If you do use chlorine bleach in your laundry, add it to the washing machine only after the tub is completely filled with water. Take care not to splash the bleach. Never pour bleach directly onto clothing in the wash.