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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Removing Chocolate Stains with the Clorox® BleachPen

By Dr. Laundry May 12, 2009

Q. I used the Clorox® Bleach Pen on a small chocolate stain on a new white knit top. It turned the material yellow, and though I tried everything I could think of to the get the yellow out, you can still see some yellow in the spot. How can I remove the yellow color?

A. Sorry for the yellowing. It would have been helpful if you provided the fiber composition of the top or area that was treated with the Clorox® Bleach Pen and what follow-up actions you tried. While the fiber may have some impact, I suspect you went about the stain removal backwards. So while you have successfully treated the colored solids portion with the Bleach Pen, you didn’t get all the emulsifier removed.

Chocolate stains are composed of an oil/emulsifier base and chocolate solids. I always recommend that the greasy/oily portion of the stain be treated first, then applied with bleach. I would have used either liquid dishwasher or laundry detergent to preteat the oily part of the stain, then applied the Clorox® Bleach Pen before washing in the hottest water recommended on the care label. You would then have to check for success before drying, so you could repeat the procedure if needed.

Hopefully, you haven’t dryer dried it too many times, as this “sets” the oily stain deep into the fibers making subsequent removal much more difficult. At this point, I would try pretreating with the liquid dishwasher or laundry detergent (apply, rub in, wait 3-5 minutes), then wash in the hottest water recommended on the care label. Again, check for success before drying in case you need to repeat the procedure. I think this should solve your problem.