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Hi, I have two white shirts that have been stained with blue. How do I bleach them properly?

By Dr. Laundry January 9, 2016

Q : Hi, I have two white shirts that have been stained with blue. How do I bleach them properly?   A: First, check the care labels on the shirts (usually on the side seam).  If they are cotton or a cotton/poly blend, then you can try the following:   Start by pretreating the blue stains with Clorox® Bleach Pen Gel.  This product has the same great sodium hypochlorite bleach active as our Regular-Bleach, but at a slightly lower concentration that is safe to apply directly to white, bleach-safe fabrics.  Note that you should always avoid bleaching wool, silk, mohair, leather, and spandex.  Just apply a little of the gel directly to the stains and gently rub it in using the soft scrubber tip on the pen.  Immediately wash the shirts in the hottest water recommended on the care label using detergent and ½ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach.  Let the shirts air dry and check your progress.   A second option (if the blue stains cover a large area on the shirts is to pretreat with Clorox® Ultimate Care Bleach.  This product also contains sodium hypochlorite bleach, and is designed to be used both as a pretreater and as a laundry additive that is added to the wash along with the detergent for cleaner, whiter laundry. To pretreat, pour a little of the product into the cap; this makes it easy to apply to the stains on the shirts.  After pretreating, immediately wash the shirts in the hottest water recommended on the care label using detergent and a little more Ultimate Care Bleach.  Again, let the shirts air dry and check your progress.   If the shirts contain any spandex, then you are more limited in what you can try since you can’t use any products like the ones above.  Depending on the source of the blue color, you can try pretreating with Clorox2® Stain Remover and Color Booster.  This is good for things like blueberries, grape juice, markers, and ball point pen.  Apply a little of the liquid directly to the stain, rub in, wait 5 minutes, and then wash in the hottest water recommended on the care label using detergent and more Clorox2®.  If, however, the blue color came off another garment and transferred onto the white shirt (and the shirts have spandex) then you could try RIT color remover.  This product can usually be found at drug and craft stores—be sure to read and follow the package instructions and any safety recommendations if you decide to try it.   I hope this is helpful.  Let me know how it goes, and thanks for writing!   –Dr. Laundry