How can I fix the bleach spots on my favorite clothing?
It happens to almost everyone who ever uses bleach: you pour
bleach for some other task, a small spot lands on your
clothes, and you don't notice it until it's too late - you
have a light spot on a favorite garment. Acne medicine can do the same thing!
How can you fix it?
It's often not possible to cover up a spot by dyeing the
whole garment. Dye is transparent, and the final color is
the sum of the original color plus the added color, so any
light spots before dyeing will still be lighter after
However, I have dyed some towels a very dark shade
of purple (using good dye, Procion MX, not all purpose dye) - and found that the original lighter spots were
completely invisible - even after I decided they were too
dark and lightened the resulting color with a bit of Rit
brand Color Remover - so you might get lucky.
if you try a technique such as low water
immersion dyeing, the results are not all one smooth
shade of color anyway, so the spot is usually no longer a
problem. It's only vat dyeing (also known as high-water immersion or washing-machine dyeing, which produces
one smooth color, that is likely to allow the spot to show
badly even after dyeing.
The marker solution
One of the best solutions to the bleach spot problem is
surprisingly low-tech. Just find a permanent marker, or
better, a fabric marker, that closely matches the original
color of the garment, and color in the spot. The results may
be good enough to pass muster on their own, or they may
require overdyeing but still give better results than
overdyeing alone. The hard part is finding a marker that is
the exact right shade, and yet which will not wash
out. Marvy fabric pens are good, but Sharpie pens will
sometimes do in a pinch. Be sure to hang on to the marker! If the marker washes out
eventually, you'll need to apply touch-ups.
Removing the remaining color
Another way to avoid a light spot after dyeing is to bleach
out the entire garment, so it all more-or-less matches,
before dyeing. Rit Color Remover is an excellent product for this purpose. Chlorine
bleach ought to work very well, since it's
what got you into this mess in the first place, but be sure
to avoid degrading the fabric. You must neutralize the chlorine bleach. Use Anti-chlor, afterwards, for the most
economical, reliable, and non-damaging bleach remover, or
use a strong oxygen bleach, such as OxyBoost, or other
color-safe oxygen bleach, or even the 3% hydrogen peroxide that is
sold as an antiseptic, to stop the degrading effects of
the chlorine bleach. If you don't do this, the lifespan of
the garment will be reduced as the chlorine bleach continues
to eat away at the fiber.
Of course, the original bleach spot probably sat for days,
without benefit of Anti-chlor, before you even discovered the
problem, so you can expect that spot to wear out and develop
a hole long before the normal lifespan of the garment is
up. There's not much to do about this after the fact, but if
you happen to see the bleach spatter when it happens, quick
action on your part with Anti-chlor or hydrogen peroxide
may prevent a great deal of permanant damage. At
the very least, plunge it into a large quantity of water and
rinse thoroughly. Some people who are ignorant of chemistry
advise the use of vinegar to remove bleach from fabric;
unfortunately, the way it does so is by producing even more
caustic chemicals, so this is not a wise approach.