How to Bleach Fabric White

    by Danielle Gream

    About the Author

    Based just outside Eugene, Ore., Danielle Gream began writing professionally in 2010 for various websites. Gream is the co-owner of a business consulting firm that specializes in leadership training and effective communication. She holds a Bachelor of Science in communication from the University of Phoenix.


    Over time, white articles of clothing become discolored or stained and need to be bleached to restore their crisp, clean appearance. When dealing with colored clothing or fabric, removing all color from the article allows you to use it in its white state or re-dye it using a different color of your choice. You can also use bleach to remove color from specific spots of the clothing or fabric to create intricate designs and patterns.

    Things You'll Need

    • Bleach
    • Hydrogen peroxide or bleach neutralizing product
    • 2 buckets
    • Old clothing
    • Protective plastic

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    Select an appropriate work area. When working with a large quantity of bleach, you must choose an area that is well ventilated and where the possibility of damage from an accidental bleach spill is minimal. Cover any nearby items that are susceptible to bleach damage with protective plastic.

    Fill a bucket, sink or washing machine with enough bleach and cold water mixture to cover the fabric completely. Use the ratio of one part bleach to four parts water.

    Place your fabric in the bleach mixture and leave it to soak. Examine the fabric every 30 minutes or so until you see that the color is gone. If your fabric doesn't turn white after several hours, replace the liquid with a stronger bleach solution and leave it to soak until you achieve the desired results.

    Rinse the bleach from the fabric. If using a sink, drain the bleach water and run fresh water over fabric. If using a washing machine, use the rinse cycle. If using a bucket, wring the excess bleach mixture from the fabric and move it to a sink or washing machine for rinsing. Take care to not drip bleach along the way.

    Fill a second bucket or sink with a solution of one part old water to one part hydrogen peroxide, or bleach neutralizing solution made according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer the fabric to this solution and soak it for at least 15 minutes. This stops the bleach from continuing to act on the fabric and prevents damage.

    Launder your bleached fabric prior to use to ensure the chemicals are all thoroughly rinsed out.

    • Use only natural fabrics when removing color completely. Non-natural fabrics, such as polyester, are colorfast and will not discharge their colors.
    • Wear old clothing and gloves to protect your hands while bleaching.
    • You may see a wide range of colors during the bleaching process, especially with dark fabrics. Do not panic, these colors were part of the dying process and will discharge if given enough time.