Bleaching Colored Clothing White

I have this pink skirt that I hate, but my friend needs a skirt for a costume she's making. However, she needs a white skirt, not pink. How do I dye/bleach the skirt white?

By Emma from FL

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Either use it color remover or hot water with lots of bleach in it.

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You will probably only lighten it, never make it truly white.

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Rit Dye makes a product to remove color from fabric. I don't remember the exact name but it is located with the regular Rit Dye. You should be able to find it in your local Wal-Mart type store or grocery store.

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Commercially dyed pink skirt is going to react differently. May come out spotted. If the fabric is cotton, you have a better chance. A poly fabric will not undye itself!

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Bleaching, or 'discharging' clothes to lighten or remove color can be helpful if you are going to cold-water dye, tie dye, and even to enhance the dramatic effect of printed or painted images. Bleach is a strong chemical, so here we will learn how to use it safely while effectively removing color.

(If you are looking for information on using bleach to remove stains, here are bleach stain-remove tips.)

First off, know that over-bleaching will significantly weaken your clothing. When you use bleach, think more about lightening dark clothing, not completely whitening them. Many dyes are that are applied to fabric actually become part of the fabric molecules, so it can be impossible to totally remove the color.

Safety First. Bleach is strong stuff, so work outdoors if you can. Bleach is a very potent chemical with toxic fumes, and can stain wood floors and carpeting. At least work in a well-ventilated area if you can't go outside. Wear rubber gloves and an apron- you do not want to get this stuff on your hands.

Dip Dying: You may need to experiment with the strength of bleach that best fits your purposes. Try using 1 part bleach to 4 or 5 parts water. Always dilute the bleach, as straight bleach can damage clothing, irritate your skin, and ruin the other clothes in your next few wash cycles. Leave your cloth submerged for at least 5 minutes. Check it every minute to see if it has lightened to your liking. Keep in mind that it will be a shade or two lighter when it is dry.

Spray dying: Bleaching to remove color is best done in small areas of the clothing where you want the lightened area to stand out. For jeans, use a spray bottle to get a spattered look that won't take a lot of life out of your jeans. Try tying up clothing for a tie-dye bleach dip, or placing objects like leaves or stencils on the fabric for a resist bleach dye. For more ideas, see our many ways to dye clothing.

Neutralizing the Bleach: After you are done dying, you need to stop the process of the chlorine. Rinse the fabric with water. You can use professional-grade bleach stoppers, but the most common household solution is hydrogen peroxide. It usually sells for under a buck at your local pharmacy. Soak your project in 2 parts hydrogen peroxide to 10 parts water. Soak for at least 10 minutes.

Tips for Success:

Bleach works best on cotton, rayon and linen. It will also work on synthetics like polyester.

Use warm, fresh bleach for the best results. Used and cold bleach are least effective.

Do not use vinegar to neutralize bleach because it can create a toxic gas.

Specialty bleach stoppers include Anti-Chlor and Bleach Stop.

Not all fabrics were created equal, and not all of them are prepared for the punch that bleach delivers. It will disintegrate wool and silk fibers.

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If I have a beige sweater, can I just wash it in the washer with bleach and it will become white?

By Anjelisa C.

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Probably not. You can get a colour remover from Rit, which is a common brand of clothing dye. However, I have never used it, and I don't know how well it works. Most synthetic fabrics will not take dye well, and so do not lose colour either. If you like the sweater as it is, at all, I would leave it alone. Bleach will also weaken the fibres and may cause holes.

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I'm trying bleach my gray shirt, white. It is a name brand shirt if that makes any difference. How much bleach do I use and do I need to use hot water with it? I really need help with this.

By Jackson T.

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Only if it was white to begin with! Factory dyed fabrics or color fast fabrics make a difference to if you can or not dye it from grey to white. Bleach is for only if it was white. Get RIT product Dye Out to try to change the color. Follow instructions.

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I need help. I want to bleach the color out of a gray hoodie to make it white. How do I do this? Thanks.

By whitegurl from Louisville, KY

Bleaching Colored Clothing White

I have not had good luck trying this. If you use enough bleach to remove the color, the fabric may be so weakened it falls apart easily. (03/15/2010)

By jrringg

Bleaching Colored Clothing White

You may lighten it, but it will never be white. (03/16/2010)

By Beth

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How do you get a dyed t-shirt back to white?

By Tracy from Sudbury, UK

Bleaching Colored Clothing White

If you dyed it you could use a package of dye remover, about $3, but, why not call it a day and buy a new t-shirt. (02/07/2010)


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This is probably a stupid question, but I have a pink shirt that I would like to make white. How could I safely bleach it so the color would be even and white without making the fabric fall apart or become yellowish? The last time I tried to make colored clothes white the fabric fell apart. How can I safely bleach this shirt to make it white?


Bleaching Colored Clothing White

Try Ritz Color Remover. It's usually with the Ritz dye for fabrics in the supermarkets or try Wal-mart. I don't know if it will work, read the directions for information or call them. There is usually a phone number on the box or bottle. (04/12/2005)

Bleaching Colored Clothing White

I used the color remover on a pink article of clothing, but it did nothing. I'm still trying. (08/16/2005)

By Belinda

Bleaching Colored Clothing White

Some color is impossible to remove. I once had a dress that was hot pink and I didn't want that color. I tried to dye it dark green. The lace on the dress took the dye, but the dress did not so I got some color remover. It took the dye out of the lace, but not the dress. I think it was a type of polyester and there was just no way to change the color. This may be the problem you are having. Synthetic fabrics take dye and bleaching differently than cotton.

Susan from ThriftyFun (08/16/2005)

By ThriftyFun

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