8 Ways to Save Your White & Dark Clothes From Bleach Stains

Bleach doesn't stain so much as it removes the dye in fabric, but there's a good chance you can still save your favorite clothes. Here are eight things to try.

Updated March 27, 2024
How to remove bleach stains easily

When my kids were small, my 9-year-old son bleached the carpet (he'd love that I'm telling you that). He spilled something on it and wanted to "fix" it. So trust me when I say I know the heartbreak of bleach stains. And while getting bleach stains on your favorite clothing isn't quite as expensive as replacing your entire carpet (we got hardwood floors — problem solved), it can be just as heartbreaking if it's a piece you totally love. So, if you've had a bleach accident with your favorite clothing, we have advice on how to get bleach stains out of your clothes.

How to Remove Bleach Stains From Clothes

The simple truth is that some bleach-stained clothes may be beyond repair — especially in patterned fabrics. But if it's a solid-color fabric, you have options. For dark, solid-colored clothes, you'll need to neutralize the bleach with baking soda to stop it from removing any more color or spreading, and then re-dye it to hide the oops. You can probably fix the damage with soap and water if it's something lighter, like a white shirt.

Clothing Type Stain Type Method
All clothing Any Neutralize with baking soda paste first
Whites Yellow Use dish soap or rinse bleach out and use vinegar.
Dark solid colors Small  Use rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab
Dark solid colors Small to medium Use a fabric marker
Dark solid colors Large Use color remover & re-dye 
Dark solid cotton, rayon, or linen Any size Try bleach painting
Helpful Hack

If bleach stains a solid-color T-shirt or leggings so they seem beyond repair, you can always make it look more intentional by bleach painting some designs. My favorite yoga leggings (which I get SO MANY compliments on) started as bleach-stained black leggings. Now they have butterflies and flowers made with bleach, which are AMAZING.

First, Neutralize the Bleach With Baking Soda

Bleach doesn't actually stain clothes... it permanently removes the dye from them. And the longer the bleach is in contact with the fabric, the more dye it will remove. So before you do anything else, neutralize the bleach before it spreads or removes any more of the color. 

You'll Need

  • Baking soda
  • Water


  1. Mix equal parts of baking soda and water to create a paste.
  2. Put the mixture on the stain.
  3. Allow the paste to dry.
  4. Rinse and launder, and then assess the damage and go from there.

Related: 15 Creative Ways to Upcycle Old T-Shirts

Use Vinegar to Remove Bleach Stains From White Clothes

Bleach can leave a yellow residue on white clothes. Don't despair. You'll most likely be able to save these clothes with some white vinegar

  1. Rinse the fabric for several minutes with cold water to get out the bleach completely.
  2. Put straight white vinegar on the yellow stains.
  3. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes.
  4. Rinse the area with cold water.
  5. Check that the residue is gone, and repeat as necessary. 
  6. Wash and dry as usual.
Need to Know

Never mix bleach and white vinegar. It'll create a poison gas. That's why it's so important to rinse thoroughly — to remove the bleach before applying the vinegar.  

Use Dish Soap to Remove Bleach Stains From White Clothes

If the thought of using vinegar makes you nervous (because of the whole poison gas thing) or you know you just aren't patient enough to rinse for as long as it takes to get the bleach residue out of your clothing, you can also use Dawn dish soap.

  1. Add 3-4 squirts of Dawn to a cup of water.
  2. Mix the two well.
  3. Dip the cloth in the mixture.
  4. Work it over the bleach stain starting from the outside in.
  5. Rinse and repeat as necessary until all residue is gone.

Use Rubbing Alcohol to Remove Small Bleach Stains From Dark Clothes

If it's a small area on dark clothing, you can minimize the damage so it isn't noticeable. You may be able to use rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab to "re-dye" the fabric in a small bleach stain, which may be enough to save the garment. 

  1. Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol.
  2. Rub the cotton swab around the bleach stain, pulling the color from the surrounding areas into the white area.
  3. Continue this until the dye completely transfers to the bleached area.
  4. Allow the clothing to air dry and launder as usual.
Helpful Hack

You might notice that the bleached area is slightly lighter than the surrounding area. If so, use a fabric dye to correct this.

Remove Bleach Stains From Dark Clothes With Fabric Dye


For larger areas, you'll probably need to re-dye the clothing. This doesn't always work perfectly, but it's definitely worth a try if you want to save something sold-colored that you've splashed bleach on. You'll need some fabric dye and a color remover.

  1. Find a fabric dye that matches the color of your garment.
  2. Use the color remover by following the instructions. Don't skip this step since it will help the dye take to your clothing.
  3. Re-dye the item following the instructions on your dye package.
  4. While many use the washing machine method, soaking the clothing in a bucket also works well.

Try a Fabric Marker on Dark Clothes

For smaller spots, fabric marker pens can also help hide bleach stains on dark clothes. The trick is finding a fabric marker that's as close to the color of your clothing as possible, so you may want to take your stained garment to a fabric or craft store to find the closest match. 

  1. Find a fabric marker as close to the color of the bleached area as possible.
  2. Use the pen to color in the bleached area.
  3. Follow the directions on the packaging for laundering.
Helpful Hack

A permanent marker can also work in a pinch if a fabric marker isn't available. But this marker won't hold up in the wash as well as a fabric marker, so you may want to hand-wash and then re-add the marker as the color starts to fade. 

Bleach Painting — The Creative Solution to Bleach Stains

So, I mentioned bleach painting earlier. It's a super cool, creative way to remedy bleach stains, and it turns out fun, one-of-a-kind pieces. It doesn't work on every fabric, but it works well on fabrics that are at least 80% cotton, linen, or rayon. You can use stencils to make fun designs or try painting freehand if you're artistic. 

Need to Know

Do this in a well-ventilated area, wear a mask, and use gloves as you paint. 

You'll Need

  • Garments to paint
  • Pieces of cardboard
  • Plastic stencils
  • Tape
  • Sponge brushes and watercolor brushes
  • Spray bottle
  • Liquid bleach (for spray bottle)
  • Non-splash bleach (for painting)
  • Towel


  1. Place the garment on a flat surface. Put pieces of cardboard between layers of fabric so the bleach doesn't seep through to the other side.
  2. Tape or pin stencils onto your garment in your desired design (or freehand it).
  3. Saturate paintbrushes with non-splash liquid bleach and dab over the stencil designs (or draw freehand).
  4. You can also combine ½ cup of liquid bleach with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle and spray over stencil cutouts.
  5. Allow bleach to remove the dye from the fabric for about 10 minutes.
  6. Rinse thoroughly in cold water.
  7. Roll the garment in a towel to remove excess water and air-dry.
  8. Launder as usual.
Helpful Hack

If you want the bleach not to remove the color fully, you can make a setting spray with ½ cup hydrogen peroxide and 2 cups of water and spritz on the bleach to set the color where you want it.

How to Avoid Getting Bleach Stains on Clothes

Full disclosure — I have a full set of housecleaning clothes. Why? Because when I use something with bleach (like soft scrub in my tub), I ALWAYS wind up with it on my clothes. It's my special gift. If you're like me and you always wind up with bleach-stained clothes, keep these tips in mind:

  • Wear light-colored clothes when cleaning or doing laundry with bleach.
  • Make sure your laundry baskets are away from your washer to avoid spill mishaps. 
  • Follow safety measures when using bleach in the laundry.
  • Roll up sleeves and wear gloves when handling bleach to avoid bleach stains on cuffs.
  • Always use the recommended amount of bleach for whites.

Undoing Bleach Stains on Clothing

It happens to the best of us — sometimes, we get a little splash of bleach on our clothes, or sometimes our dark T-shirt winds up in the laundry when we're bleaching our whites. No matter how bleach gets into your clothes, there's probably a way to make it better.  So try one of our methods to see if you can save your clothing. 

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8 Ways to Save Your White & Dark Clothes From Bleach Stains