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Why Does Bleach Turn White Clothes Yellow?

Did bleach turn your white shirt yellow? Find out why bleach can turn white clothes yellow so you can make sure it doesn't happen again in the future.

More from Clorox experts

Question

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

Answer

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-Bleach₂ with CLOROMAX® full-strength on any item or surface. Soaking is OK, but normally I recommend 1/4 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach₂ with CLOROMAX®/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.