My White Shirt Got Stained Blue in the Washer: How to Fix the Bleed

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Have you ever washed your clothes only to find a blue stain on a white shirt? This type of staining is likely due to color bleed, which can happen when a blue sock or shirt sneaks into a load of whites and results in the entire load turning a pale blue color. Blue stains on laundry can also be caused by too much detergent or fabric softener that isn't rinsed out properly. Here's how to remove blue staining from your freshly washed whites and how to prevent it from happening.


How to Fix Color Bleed Using Bleach

One item of blue clothing that bleeds can turn a whole load of white laundry light blue. If this happens to your laundry, here are the steps to take:

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  1. As soon as you see that your laundry has been stained blue, remove the item that caused the bleeding.
  2. Check the care label of each clothing item to ensure it can be bleached.
  3. Mix 1/4 cup of bleach with 1 gallon of water in a sink or a bucket. Submerge the clothing and let it soak for five minutes.
  4. Rinse the bleach solution from the clothes in clean water.
  5. Air-dry the clothes to check the stain. If it's still visible, repeat the steps.
  6. Once the stain is completely gone, run the clothing through a normal wash cycle to eliminate the smell of bleach.



If the care label is missing from your stained clothing, do a bleachability test: Mix 2 teaspoons of regular chlorine bleach with 1/3 cup of water and then place one drop of the solution on the item where it isn't noticeable, such as the hem or the underside of the collar. Rinse out the bleach with clean water after five minutes and then blot dry with a clean, lint-free white cloth. If there's no visible damage, then you can bleach the item. Note that you should never use chlorine bleach on some fabrics, including leather, wool, spandex, and silk.

How to Fix Blue Stains Caused by Laundry Products

Sometimes, too much detergent or fabric softener can cause blue staining on clothing. Here's what to do to remove detergent staining from just-washed clothing:

  1. Soak the stained clothing in a plastic bucket containing 1 cup of distilled white vinegar mixed with 1 quart of water.
  2. Let the items soak in the vinegar solution for an hour before rinsing them in clean water.
  3. Run a sanitizing wash cycle without laundry to remove any excess detergent or fabric softener in the machine.
  4. Rewash the clothing in a normal wash cycle.



If the stains were caused by a liquid fabric softener, rub the stains with a bar of soap and then run the items through a regular wash cycle.

How to Prevent Blue Stains

By making a couple of minor modifications in your laundry routine, you can prevent most blue staining in your washing machine:

  • Carefully sort your laundry into at least three types of loads: whites, light/pastel colors, and dark colors such as black and navy blue. Accidents can happen, of course, but a careful job of sorting can prevent most staining from color bleed.
  • Avoid overfilling the detergent or fabric softener dispenser to prevent staining caused by the blue dyes with which some laundry products are formulated.



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