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How to Bleach White Shirts with Colored Logos, Embroidery or Print

Got a stain on a white shirt with an embroidered logo or graphic print? You can use bleach to get the stain out once you know the colored parts are colorfast.

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By Mary Gagliardi

When you have colored logos or embroidery on a white shirt, there’s a good chance you can safely launder the shirt with bleach. First you need to confirm the shirt is made of bleach-safe fabric, then you can check a hidden part of the embroidery thread for colorfastness to bleach.

Most embroidery thread is made of polyester, which is typically colorfast, so many items with logos are actually bleach-safe! This also applies to white items with printed logos and screen printed graphic tees.

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Confirm the shirt’s fiber content

Check the care label to see what the item is made of. You can safely bleach cotton, polyester, nylon, acrylic and rayon. You cannot bleach spandex — even a small percentage — wool, silk, mohair, and leather. Once you confirm the fabric in question is bleach-safe, you can check the logo itself for colorfastness.

What you need

Steps for bleaching a white graphic tee

  1. 1

    Measure the water

    Add ¼ cup water to the measuring cup.

    measuring cup with liquid
  2. 2

    Measure the bleach

    Add 2 teaspoons of Clorox® Bleach to the water in the measuring cup. Use the measuring spoon to stir the bleach into the water, then rinse the spoon with clean water.

    measuring spoon with liquid
  3. 3

    Test the inside of the shirt

    Turn the shirt inside out and place the backside of the logo facing up so you can get to some of the embroidery thread. It’s important to test on the inside so a negative test result doesn’t show.

    white t-shirt
  4. 4

    Apply the test drop

    Use the smallest measuring spoon (⅛ or ¼ teaspoon) to apply only a very small drop of the test solution to the thread. Apply the smallest possible drop so it doesn’t soak through to the outside. Wait 1 minute, then rinse and blot dry.

  5. 5

    Look for a color change

    If the thread doesn’t change color, then you can add the shirt along with the rest of your white items to your next bleach load. If the thread lightens or changes color, then the thread is not colorfast to bleach and should be washed with Clorox 2® for Colors.

    water droplets on fabric

Frequently asked questions

My logo shirt is colorfast. Can I treat a stain on it with full-strength bleach?

No! Never use bleach full strength to treat any soft or hard surface. Bleach should always be diluted with water first before it contacts fabric. To pretreat stains before washing with bleach, soak the entire item for up to 5 minutes in a solution of ¼ cup Clorox® Bleach per gallon of water before machine washing.

Can I bleach white socks with colored stripes without hurting the stripes?

Probably, but you should test the stripes first for colorfastness to bleach. Apply a small drop to the inside of the sock so no test solution soaks through to the front if possible. Even better would be if the toe is knit from the same color as the stripes and you can test the toe without worrying about a negative result showing.