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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Water Color Change with Bleach

By Dr. Laundry December 12, 2011

Q: Why does adding Clorox ® Regular-Bleach turn my water pink, and also stain my white items brown? This especially happens when I add detergent (All® HE).  Our water has silica, but that is it.  Could it be the pipes (PVC and copper)?

A: It sounds to me like your water has high iron content – have you ever had it tested by a laboratory?  The pink color you are reporting is typically seen when bleach oxidizes the iron, giving the water a pink hue and causing the brown spots which are actually rust deposits.  Installing a water treatment system is usually the best way to get these problems under control.  If you determine that your water doesn’t have any iron in it, then it would be good to check your clothes washer for any corroded areas that have rusted. These could be transferring rust into the wash water and onto your clothes.  Until you identify and correct the source of the iron/rust, using bleach will only exacerbate the problem.

Has anyone else experienced similar problems due to high iron content?