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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Cleaning White Pillowcases

By Dr. Laundry January 5, 2010

Q. I accidentally washed my 500 thread count pillowcases with a pair of dark pants. They are now golden brown. The care label says use only non -chlorinated bleach when needed. What do I do, I want them back to white so bad! Any suggestions?

A. Hopefully you didn’t dry the pillowcases in the dryer, as this will make it harder to remove (kind of like dying the item).

Best option at this point is to try a quick soak/wash in Clorox® Regular-Bleach. First you want to be sure the pillowcases can safely be bleached. I recommend consumers do the quick Bleachability Test (2 tspn. Clorox® Regular-Bleach in 1/4 cup water; apply a drop on a hidden colored area like an inside seam, hemline or cuff; wait 1 minute and then blot with towel); no color change means it is safe to use bleach on the item. Any color change could also show you the amount of change in color that likely will occur if you proceed with the liquid bleach usage. You can see a demo on my blog (http://www.drlaundryblog.com) in the video Laundry 101.

Want to proceed? I would do a quick liquid bleach soak (1/4 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach in gallon of cool water for 5 minutes) then wash immediately in the hottest water recommended on the care label using detergent and 3/4 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach. It might require multiple treatments to get the desired result.

You can also consider using something like Rit Color Remover, but do a quick check to make sure the product can safely be used on the items.