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Removing Old Stains

By Dr. Laundry December 30, 2013

I have some old stains on a top that is mostly white with patterns on it. How do I get them safely removed without ruining my shirt? 


You may be able to safely bleach the top (and I actually expect that you can) depending on what it’s made of and whether or not it is colorfast to bleach.  First, check the care label for the fiber content – don’t use bleach if the top contains any spandex, wool, silk, mohair, or leather. Next, use this quick bleachability test check colorfastness:  add 1 ½ teaspoons Clorox® Regular-Bleach to ¼ cup water and apply a drop of the solution to a hidden part of the item that has color on it (inside the hem and collar can work very well). Wait 1 minute and then blot dry—no color change means you can safely bleach the item.

 

Assuming the top passes the bleachability test, at a minimum you can wash it in the hottest water recommended on the care label using detergent and ½ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach. You may also want to pretreat the stains prior to washing using Clorox® Bleach Pen Gel (if the stains are on the white part of the top). To do this, apply a little of the gel directly to the stain and then immediately wash the top using detergent and Clorox® Regular-Bleach as described above. Air dry and check for success. 

 

Keeping an item out of a hot dryer while you are trying to get a stain out is always a good stain removal technique–the goal is to prevent a stubborn stain that would otherwise come out with a second treatment from becoming permanent.