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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Removing Waterbed Solution

By Dr. Laundry April 27, 2010

Q. My daughter’s waterbed sprung a leak, and everything that was saturated with the water now has a strong chemical odor. We have washed the items with regular laundry detergent but the odor remains. The most important item I’d like to save is the bed spread. Do you have a recommendation?

A. Thanks for your inquiry, and sorry about the mishap. I suspect that either the water had some type of preservative, and this is causing your issue, or the water inside the bed may have become “foul.”

You didn’t say if the bedspread was bleachable or not. Some colored items are bleachable. If you’re not sure, I recommend you try the quick Bleachability Test (2 tspn Clorox® Regular-Bleach in 1/4 cup water; apply a drop on a hidden colored area like inside seam, hemline or cuff; wait 1 minute and then blot with towel); no color change means it is safe to use bleach on the item. Any color change could also show you the amount of change in color that likely will occur if you proceed with the liquid bleach usage. You can see a demo on my blog (http://www.drlaundryblog.com) in the video Laundry 101.

If you proceed, do a quick liquid bleach soak (1/4 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach in gallon of cool water for 5 minutes, or fill your washer with enough water to cover the bedspread; add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of bleach, then the item) then wash immediately in the hottest water recommended on the care label using detergent and 3/4 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach. Check for success after the wash cycle and before dryer drying. It might require multiple treatments to get the desired result.

If the item is not bleachable, I would first try a milder oxygen bleach like our Clorox2® Stain Fighter & Color Booster. Again, first do a quick Bleachability Test ( apply a spot of Clorox2 to an inside seam, wait 2-3 minutes, blot dry and check for color change). I would consider a 1/2 to 1 hour presoak in the Clorox2 (see label for instructions) before washing the item in the warmest water recommended on the care label with detergent and Clorox2. Check for success before drying, as you may more than one treatment.