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Removing Stains from Clothes That Have Dried

If you find a stain on an item that has been through a hot dryer, it doesn’t have to be permanent. By using the right laundry products and the right technique, stains that have been dried do come out.

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By Mary Gagliardi
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Stains are so much harder to get out when they’ve been exposed to dryer heat, which is much hotter than many people realize. Fortunately, for many clothing stains that have been through the dryer, when you presoak or pretreat with the right products before rewashing you can get these hard-to-remove stains out. 

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Use the right bleach for the stain

Different clothes require different bleach products for best results

Always check the care label of your clothes for the fiber content to see what it’s made of. Wool, silk, mohair, leather and spandex should never be washed with Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach. For clothing with spandex, Clorox 2® for Colors is an excellent choice.

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Gather your supplies

Steps to get set-in stains out of clothes

  1. 1

    Add water to the plastic dishpan

    Use cold tap water and measure so you know you have 1 gallon (16 cups).

    faucet with water
  2. 2

    Add ¼ cup Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach

    Measure the bleach and add it to the water in the plastic dishpan. Use the plastic spoon to stir the solution.


    Wear gloves so you can easily handle the item while it soaks.

    bleach pouring from bottle
  3. 3

    Add your clothes to the dishpan

    Fully submerge the clothing in the bleach and water solution for 5 minutes. Use the spoon to swirl the clothes around in the bleach solution and make sure it goes in completely. 

  4. 4

    Machine wash your clothing

    After 5 minutes, pour off the soaking solution before transferring the clothes to the clothes washer. Use the hottest water recommended, the heavy duty cycle, a good detergent and 1/3 cup Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach


    If cold water is recommended, consider increasing the temperature to at least warm or even hot. Any risk of shrinkage or color loss from a hotter temperature is worth it to get a stain out of an item that would otherwise be unusable.

    hot setting on washing machine
  5. 5

    Air dry

    Wet clothing can hide stains. Air drying helps you make sure stains are completely gone before tumble drying and making it even harder to get a tough stain all the way out. 

    open window with curtains

Really tough stains that have been through a hot dryer may need multiple treatments to get the stain all the way out. This is better than using a longer soak time or a stronger bleach and water solution, which can yellow fabric.

Steps to get set-in stains out of colored colors or spandex

  1. 1

    Apply full strength Clorox 2® liquid directly to the stain

    Use the cap to apply a small amount of product, then gently rub in.

    clorox 2 liquid pouring from bottle
  2. 2

    Wait 10 minutes

    Set a timer to maximize pretreating time without losing track of the time and leaving the product on too long. Don’t let the product dry out on the clothing.

  3. 3

    Machine wash your clothes

    After 10 minutes of pretreating, transfer the item to the clothes washer. Use the hottest water recommended, the heavy duty cycle, a good detergent and more Clorox 2® for Colors.

    hot setting on washing machine
  4. 4

    Air dry

    When working on removing a stain, keep the item out of a hot dryer until you know the stain is gone.


    Some items are heavier when wet and should be laid flat to dry on a clean towel to avoid stretching or tearing.

    open window with curtains
  5. If the stains are out, great! If not, you can repeat the treatments, each time getting out a little more of the stain. You may also want to try increasing the wash temperature, which improves cleaning.

    Frequently asked questions

    How do I treat a white item with spandex?

    White items that include a little spandex should never be washed with Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach. Instead, they should be washed with Clorox 2® for Colors.