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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Yellowing From Bleach

By Dr. Laundry June 23, 2009

Q. I put bleach on a pair of shorts — now they are yellow. How can I get them back to white?

A. Afraid I may not have good news for you. I assume that you placed concentrated bleach directly on the shorts and after washing you have a yellow spot. First, I NEVER recommend using Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 full-strength on any item or surface. Soaking is OK, but normally I recommend 1/4 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach1/gallon of cool water and only 5–10 minutes of soaking. It should always be diluted because it is so strong and concentrated. Used like this, it can actually cause yellowing by either breaking down the fibers or destroying the florescent whitening agents on the fabric of the garment. Not much you can do for this problem, but repeated washing may lessen the yellow appearance. Try a couple of detergent-only washes as your initial approach.