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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Laundering one item with bleach

By Dr. Laundry November 19, 2012

I have a stain on my white shirt. Since it is just one shirt, how can I use Clorox to take out the stain without having to run a load of laundry?

This is a great question–a lot of times when people have a small stain on a white item, they make the mistake of dabbing a little undiluted bleach directly onto the stain–please don’t do this! Bleach should always be diluted first before use, otherwise a permanent yellow stain (and eventually a hole) will be left behind where the full-strength bleach was applied to the fabric. To safely use Clorox® Regular-Bleach to remove the stain on your shirt, try soaking the shirt in a solution of 1/4 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach per gallon of water (or if you are using new Concentrated Clorox® Regular-Bleach, 3 tablespoons bleach per gallon of water). Fully submerge the shirt for 5 minutes, and then rinse and air dry.

Something else to consider is what type of stain you are trying to remove. The bleach soak works great for stains like coffee, ball point pen, and red wine, but for an oily food stain, prior to the bleach soak you should pretreat the stain with a little liquid dishwashing detergent. Apply a little to the stain and rub in, wait 5 minutes, and then rinse the stain. This helps break up the oil, making it easier for the bleach to completely remove the stain.