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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Lightening Colors with Bleach

By Dr. Laundry January 27, 2009

Q. I have used Rit color remover to lighten the rose color in my cotton blend valances. It did lighten the color, but I would like to remove more color in order to turn them off-white or cream-colored. Do you have a bleach solution you would recommend for a washer, and could you tell me how long to keep the valances in the solution? Would you use regular bleach or perhaps Clorox® Oxi Magic Powder?

A. Based on your description of the results after the Rit treatment, I would probably recommend another Rit treatment over the use of a bleach solution. If the curtains are a cotton blend, the dyes are definitely more stable/harder to remove than if they were all cotton. If you try the Clorox® Oxi Magic Powder, it isn’t strong enough to “bleach” out any more color. If you try a bleach solution, it is difficult to predict the final outcome as the remaining dye(s) may not come out uniformly and/or you could get a blotchy appearance if the curtains get tangled.

If I were to try a bleach solution, it probably would be like our recommended presoak procedure:

You could also estimate the bleaching effect by doing our Bleachability Test: Add 2 tsp. Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 to 1/4 cup water; apply a drop on a hidden area like inside seam or hemline; wait 1 minute, and then blot with towel. Any color change will show you the amount of change you should expect if you proceed with the bleach usage.