How do you bleach colored clothing completely white?
We never recommend letting undiluted bleach contact any fabrics or hard surfaces—it should always be diluted first. Depending on the fabric and dye that was used to color an item, soaking in a bleach and water solution can produce several outcomes:
Bleach is extremely useful for the DIYer, not to mention fun to work with, because of all the interesting affects that can be achieved with it. The recommended bleach soaking solution for bleachable fabrics (always avoid bleaching wool, silk, mohair, leather, and spandex) is 3 tablespoons Clorox® Regular Bleach2 added to 1 gallon water. Items should be fully submerged, and soak time limited to 5 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. How a colored item responds to this solution depends on the fiber content of the item, how it was dyed, and what class of dye was used for the color. If one bleach soak doesn’t completely strip the color off an item as you would like, you could try repeating the bleach soak multiple times to gradually remove the color safely. You could also try working with a stronger bleach solution to speed things up—I wouldn’t go any stronger than 1 part bleach to 12 parts water (1 cup bleach added to 3 quarts water). Just don’t lengthen the soak time—prolonged exposure to bleach and water solutions can cause irreversible yellowing. Something else to consider is the thread used to construct the garment—if it is polyester, then it will not change color, and you will end up with contrasting stitching if the fabric color does lighten. Who knows—that could be a desired effect!