Bleach Can Actually Make Pit Stains Worse On White Clothing--Here's Why

September 9, 2016 by Justine Schwartz
shefinds | Style

Adding a cap full of bleach to your white laundry is the best way to make it whiter–right? Actually, bleach can make some whites turn yellow, and can even *cause* those pesky yellow underarm stains that you thought you were using the bleach against. Are you shocked? Here’s what you need to know:

READ MORE: The Millennial’s Guide To Laundry: Everything You Need To Know

Not every fabric reacts to bleach the way you think it does (ie., making it whiter). There is a known list of fabrics that you should never, ever use bleach on–Clorox’s Dr. Laundry calls them the “avoid bleaching” list: spandex, wool, silk, leather, and mohair.

READ MORE: 5 Reasons You Should Fold Clothes As Soon As You Take Them Out Of The Dryer

So, what happens if, for example, you have a white t-shirt that contains a small amount of spandex? Well, when spandex is washed with sodium hypochlorite (the main ingredient in bleach products like Clorox) they turn yellow. So, while you think you’re going to get a white tee out of the wash, it comes out looking way worse than when you put it in. Yikes!

READ MORE: The One Mistake You’re Probably Making When Washing Dark Clothing

So, how can you whiten t-shirts, towels and other clothing that are on the “avoid bleaching” list? Well, depending on the fabric, distilled white vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and dishwasher detergent are all alternatives for whitening laundry.

READ MORE: 11 New Uses For A Lint Roller (Besides The Obvious)


Editorial Director

Justine Schwartz is a veteran women's lifestyle editor; she's written extensively about style & beauty tips, health advice and wedding planning for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in New York Magazine, Huffington Post and New York Weddings. Justine has been with SheFinds since 2010; you can reach her via email at [email protected]

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