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Fade to White! Want to whiten your dingy whites? Or even better, how about revitalizing a set of expensive cotton sheets that have faded in color? Here are some expert tips on how to spruce up and revitalize fabric - it's easy, and it's how the pros do it!
I had a beautiful baby blue set of Egyptian cotton sheets 1000 thread count that had faded and become very stained. I decided I wanted to try and make them white, and I succeeded at it! They look bright and white and good as new.
Before we get started, a few caveats: It is easier to go white if the original color was light. If your sheet set is a darker color, say a navy blue or a burgundy or forest green, you may want to try and redye the sheets (and that's another tip!)
Here is how to get the same results I did:
Although household bleach is a powerful whitener, it is bad for the environment and weakens fabric. I only use bleach as a very very last resort brightener; try the other things listed, and you will probably find that you will not need any bleach at all!
If you use bleach, or you have used bleach, you need to remember that bleach stays in fabric and weakens it. So if you do bleach something, you should rinse the item as soon as you are done bleaching it in hydrogen peroxide (add a bottle or two to a rinse cycle). You can also buy a product called bleach stop from or from a professional art and craft store.
Use the Good Stuff
This means a trip to your local art supply store, or you can order online. I get my supplies from Dick Blick or Pearl Art Supply. You will get better results with professional products, and they are not much more than what you would pay for Rit. Use Procion, or Jacquard brand products - or any other professional brand.
This is only guaranteed to work on natural fibers (cotton, linens, wool, rayon, etc). With wool, be careful with shrinkage at high temps. Cottons are the easiest to work with.
Start by removing the original color. This step also works on dingy whites. Use a color remover. I used the Jacquard brand dye remover and it worked wonderfully well. For best results, do it in a large pot (not aluminum!) on your stove so you can keep the temperature hot. Boil the water first, and add 1 heaping tsp. of the remover. stir well. Wet one pillowcase and add to pot. Keep on low heat, stir and after 15 min, remove from heat and wash in detergent. Then repeat to do the next pillowcase. If your pot is big enough, do them together. It is important to wet first to get even results.
You can also do it in a bathtub, but it might take longer and require more dye remover. I did the larger sheets in the tub, with very hot water. I caution against dying or removing color in a front loading washing machine - or any machine. I once had dye residue damage on several loads of laundry : ( Your bathtub or sink is easier to clean and safer. Note that if the thread was 100% polyester, it will probably stay its original color.
A bottle of the jacquard dye remover cost under $4 and did an entire sheet set.
You will notice that the fabric might still be a bit grey or yellowish, although I was very impressed at how well it turned out. For all of you perfectionists out there, try these tips, in this order:
Be sure to enjoy your new "brightey whiteys".
By Wangchok from Canada
I have a black 2 piece outfit that seems quite a bit cotton, but may have some polyester in it. The tag has been cut out, so I don't know. At any rate, it is getting faded with a white cast to it from so many washing, I suppose. Is there a way to redye it to make it black again so I can wear it a bit longer. I wear this outfit a lot at funerals as my husband is a pastor.
Thanks in advance, Linda
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My husband left a jacket on a sunny porch over the summer, now it has a big faded patch on the back. Is there any way to get rid of this without dyeing the jacket?
The sun, especially shining for such a long time on the jacket, has essentially bleached the material. Some fabrics can lose color from even a day of sun exposure. You can try dying the jacket, however, there may be a problem in how the dye affects the bleached area.
I have a blue tracksuit and its colour has faded in some spots only. Actually what happened was once I wanted to wash it so I put it in the washing machine, added some detergent and when I was going to switch on the machine, I found that electricity was not there. So I left my clothing undisturbed till the light came on. After one or two hours when the light came back on I switched on the machine and washed my clothes, but after my tracksuit dried I found that it had faded at some spots. I was very disappointed. Please help.
Leaving detergent in contact with fabric over time can cause a bleaching or fading effect. There is nothing you can do to repair the faded areas as the detergent removed the color. You can try to redye the clothes, however, the faded area will probably not take the dye as well as the rest of the fabric.
Am getting white shades in my pure black cotton jeans. It looks awkward when I wear them. I washed it so many times, but I couldn't get any positive results.
From your description, it appears that your jeans are losing their black color in some areas. If so, further washing will only make the problem worse as the spots are not stains but lost dye areas. You can try a home dye product to redye your jeans, however, even if the pants take the dye, the white areas may still be lighter than the rest of the material.
How can I fix a turquoise and violet coloured shirt that faded when washed? I bought it and then I hand washed it. After it dried it faded from a few places and it looks really awkward. So what should I do now? There is also embroidery on the shirt.
By Sukhi from Vancouver
Take it back where you bought it,tell them what happen,good luck.
I'd take it back asap.
Why do I have faded spots on laundry? I am not using bleach.
Tammy from Crawfordville, FL
Are you using laundry detergent WITH bleach? I use to have the same problem until I stopped using detergent with bleach.
Are you or anyone in your family using an acne treatment containing benzoil peroxide? It will cause faded spots on clothes, sheets, or anything it touches.
Tammy, I'm sort of a neighbor. I live at Nutall Rise, & the water is terrible here on the Aucilla River. When the river is high I have opposite problems. My clothes had dark spots on them. I discovered putting fabric softener in the wash was the cause of my spotting. Don't know your water source (well or city), but that may be a start. I work at JR's Aucilla River Store on weekends. If you go there, ask for me. Would love to meet you. Good luck neighbor!
I ruined my favorite shirt and tried to buy another one, but they don't sell it anymore. I can't even order it. It is dark purple and made out of rayon. It has a huge light pink spot on it in a couple of places. It looks like the color faded out of it for on these spots. How can i fix this? Can I dye rayon? I read something about a crayon and iron. Can I iron rayon? Please give me ideas, I will try anything.
Sounds like a bleach stain. Purple will bleach out to pink sometimes. Bleach or a cleaning product that contains bleach does this. You have nothing to lose by trying to color with crayon and ironing in, but I doubt it will match. If you do it, be sure to wash separately so crayon excess doesn't bleed onto other clothing.
Try a magic marker close to the color of your top. Be sure to keep the marker in the middle of the stain, as it will darken the outer part that has not lost its color. Good luck.
It does sound like a bleach stain. I don't know much about rayon, but you could try RIT dye in the laundry section of your grocery store (two packages, since it is a dark color). You may want to try the RIT color remover first, to start off with a more evenly-toned color overall. If you try the crayon and it doesn't work, then you'd have the problem of removing the crayon completely before trying to dye it.
I got a hoodie and some faded spots, and I wanna redye, can someone help me out? the colour is baby blue.
Khiet from Melbourne, Victoria
I have a 65% rayon and 35% cotton blend dress that had a stain so I soaked it in cold water with a diluted mild detergent. The stain came out thankfully, but now there are a few faded spots. Is there a chemical or solution I can soak it in to even it out?
By Christine from Houston, TX
I have a green satin-like dress that has some sun damaged spots on it (faded to a pale green-yellow). Is it fixable, and if not can I dye over it?
Anne from Victoria
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I wanted to know if there was a way to repair faded fabric. I washed my comforter and now there are faded spots. Is there anything I can do to fix it?
By Julie from TX
Why don't you make a duvet for the comforter. (03/07/2010)
Once fabric is faded, it's faded. Chances are your comforter has a design so dyeing it is not an option, but even if it were a solid color it would be almost impossible to dye such a large item evenly.
The duvet cover is a great idea. I have one that I bought a quarter of a century ago and still use it as my comforters over the years become old. And when not in use as a cover it doubles for a nice light weight sheet type blanket for taking naps on the sofa. Oh, and it still looks brand new.
Quality duvet covers are expensive, but if you sew, you can use two inexpensive sheets and some buttons or Velcro to close the open end and make one. (03/12/2010)
To whiten fabric that is dingy, soak overnight in powdered automatic dish washer detergent. It works good on white clothes or linens.