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Ask Dr. Laundry

Removing Yellow Stains from Ramie Fabrics

By Dr. Laundry June 10, 2010

Q. I have a favorite white ramie cotton sweater that had been forgotten in the closet. When found, it had turned a very ugly shade of yellow, mostly on the shoulders and front. It also has some embroidered colored flowers in front. Please help! I would like to save it. What can I do?

A. What a great question, as I have little experience with ramie and had to do some research. It’s an interesting fiber with some useful properties.

Glad you mentioned the colored flowers as they add another point of caution. I would like to try a liquid bleach soak, but am concerned that the embroidered flowers are probably not bleachable.

Some colored items are bleachable. If you’re not sure, I recommend consumers do 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 through the wash. You can see a demo on my blog (http://www.drlaundryblog.com) in the video Laundry 101. This will establish whether liquid bleach can be part of your regimen.

If you don’t want to take the risk, start with our Clorox2® Stain Remover and Color Booster which is based on hydrogen peroxide and should be color-safe. To be sure, try the Bleachability Test above on the back of a colored flower (place a drop of Clorox2®; wait 12 minutes then rinse). Want to proceed? I would apply Clorox2 to the obvious yellowed area(s) and then presoak for 30 minutes to 1 hour in warm water. Then wash immediately in warmest water recommended on the care label using detergent and Clorox2®. Check for success after washing and before dryer drying. If not completely removed, consider a second round of treatments or air dry and then treat again.