Polyester is a breathable synthetic fabric. It is used for shirts, pants, socks, and underwear, so polyester fabrics make up a large part of our wardrobe. As with any other fabric, you want to make sure you maintain it properly so that your clothes last longer. This leaves many people to wonder, can you bleach polyester?
Because polyester is synthetic, chlorine bleach isn’t recommended for frequent use because it can break down the fibers. Oxygen bleach is a better choice for bleaching polyester. This is because the active ingredients aren’t as harsh on synthetic fibers as those found in chlorine bleach.
Whether you bleach your polyester frequently or only occasionally, we’re here to teach you how to properly bleach your polyester clothes.
Can You Bleach 100% Polyester Fabric?
Polyester can stain and start to look dingy, just like other fabrics. Bleaching polyester with chlorine bleach can be risky. This is due to the way that bleach reacts with the polyester fibers, sometimes damaging them.
Besides bleaching polyester for normal cleaning purposes, there are other reasons for using bleach on polyester clothing.
The growing trend of bleach-dyed clothing has led many people to try to bleach dye their clothes. Bleach dyeing your clothes can be done for cheaper than paying the cost of already dyed clothes from retail stores. But people who try to bleach dye polyester often don’t get the results that they want.
This article will explain the characteristics of polyester. It will also explain the risks you take when bleaching it and how to get the best results when cleaning, whitening, and bleach dyeing polyester clothing.
Can Polyester Be Bleached?
We’ve already mentioned that chlorine bleach can damage the fibers if used too frequently. Whatever your reason for using bleach on your clothes is, the last thing you want to happen is for them to be ruined.
Polyester is not resistant to bleach. Bleach will remove the color, but it does so at the risk of also damaging the threads. If you use chlorine bleach, it is important to dilute the bleach properly. You should also be extremely careful that you follow bleaching instructions exactly. Clothes should only be soaked in chlorine bleach for a very short time.
The best and safest way to bleach polyester clothing is with oxygen bleach made for use on polyester. You can also use a natural bleaching method such as lemon juice.
What Happens if You Bleach Polyester?
In addition to removing the dye from colored clothes, many people use bleach to make clothes whiter. If you’re trying to make your polyester fabrics whiter, there’s a chance that using chlorine bleach can make them turn yellow.
Yellowing happens because the chemicals in the bleach react with the chemicals in polyester. This causes the white fabric to take on a yellow tint. Lemon juice and borax are both thought to remove this yellowish tint, but you may have to apply them more than once to remove the yellow completely.
Yellowing usually only happens with chlorine bleach. Using oxygen bleach made for polyester shouldn’t turn the white fabric yellow.
Can You Remove Color From Polyester?
You can remove the color from polyester without using traditional bleaching methods. There are products made to strip and remove the dye from synthetic fibers like polyester without using bleach.
These products will remove the unwanted dye on polyester clothes (think from a tie-dye gone wrong). They can also be used to turn colored polyester clothes white. We will teach you how to use dye-stripping products in a later section.
Can You Use Rit Color Remover on Polyester?
One commonly used product for removing color from clothes is Rit Color Remover. Rit Color Remover is a non-chlorine bleach. It doesn’t damage fabric like chlorine bleach, making it perfect for use on synthetic fibers.
Rit may or may not work on polyester clothes, depending on how they were originally dyed. It also doesn’t remove graphic prints from any clothes, regardless of the material they are made of.
How to Bleach Polyester Properly
Now that we know that polyester can be bleached, let’s learn how to do it properly.
Before bleaching any article of clothing, check the care label first. If it says, “Do not use bleach,” use bleach at your own risk or find another way to remove stains or color.
Some garments may say, “Use non-chlorine bleach only.” Remember that oxygen bleach is better for polyester and is a type of non-chlorine bleach. You are better off using oxygen bleach on clothes that say to use non-chlorine bleach only.
If you still want to use chlorine bleach for your polyester clothes, we will detail the steps you should follow. We will explain how to use oxygen bleach as well.
How to Bleach Polyester Using Chlorine BleachTo use chlorine bleach on polyester, follow these steps:
Step 1: Make a bleach and water solution.
Use this step if clothes are very stained. To make this solution, add ¼ cup of bleach to a gallon of water. Soak the clothing in the solution for 5 minutes. Do not leave it longer than 5 minutes. This is how the clothing becomes damaged.
Step 2: Use a bleach pen for smaller stains.
If there is only a small stain on your polyester clothes, you can treat it using a bleach pen. Do not pour undiluted bleach directly onto the stain.
Step 3: Wash the clothing.
After treating the stains with either a bleach solution or bleach pen, wash the clothing.
Be sure to follow the washing instructions on the care label.
You can add ¾ cup of bleach to the bleach dispenser, where it will be mixed with water during the wash cycle.
How to Bleach Polyester Using Oxygen BleachOxygen bleach differs from chlorine bleach because it comes in powder form instead of liquid. It is made of a baking soda and hydrogen peroxide mixture, which forms sodium percarbonate. It is safer for fabrics than sodium hypochlorite- the active ingredient in chlorine bleach- and won’t turn fabric yellow.
Here’s how to use oxygen bleach on polyester fabric.
Step 1: Mix the bleach with water.
Mix the powdered oxygen bleach with water according to the label on the package. If your fabric is heavily stained, you can add as much as 1 cup of bleach to a gallon of water.
Step 2: Soak the fabric.
Soak the fabric in the water bleach solution for an hour. Unlike chlorine bleach, the oxygen bleach will not damage the fabric if left in the solution for longer than an hour. You can even soak it overnight if necessary.
Step 3: Wash the fabric.
Wash the fabric in the washing machine following the instructions on the care label. You can add 1 cup of oxygen bleach to the wash to further remove stains and whiten your clothes.
How Do You Whiten Polyester Fabric?
If you’re unsure about the effectiveness of using bleach on polyester fabric, there is another way you can whiten it.
Follow these steps to keep your white polyester fabric looking white:
- Add ½ cup dish detergent to a gallon of warm water.
- Soak the fabric in the dish detergent and water mixture overnight.
- Wash the clothing as you normally would, adding ½ cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle.
That method works if your polyester is white and you want to make it look whiter. But if your white polyester is stained yellow due to bleach, the next section will teach you how to remove those yellow stains.
How to Strip Dye From Polyester
If your reason to bleach polyester is to remove dye from it, you can try dye remover to strip the dye from the polyester instead.
Follow these steps to strip dye from your polyester clothes.
- Wash the clothing you want to strip dye from in warm, soapy water.
- Fill a pot with enough water to cover the clothing. To prevent dye from staining the pot, use an old or stainless steel pot.
- Heat the water on the stove until it is simmering. Do not let it boil.
- When the water is simmering, add the color remover according to the instructions on the package.
- Adjust the temperature to keep the water at a simmer.
- Add the clothing to the simmering water. Wet it first if it has had time to dry.
- Stir the water and clothing occasionally.
- Remove the clothing from the water when it turns white. This can take between 10 to 20 minutes.
- Rinse the clothing in warm water, then cooler water until the water becomes clear.
- Wash the clothing in warm water using mild detergent, then dry it.
How to Get Yellow Stains Out of White Polyester
We’ve already discussed that using chlorine bleach can make your white polyester have a yellow tint, so you should use oxygen bleach instead.
If it’s too late and your white clothes are stained yellow, don’t worry. You can follow these steps to remove the stains using natural methods and turn your clothes white again.
Step 1: Use lemons.
Add sliced lemons to a laundry bucket filled with warm water. The acidity in the lemon juice helps to break down the yellow stains.
Step 2: Soak the clothing.
Soak the stained clothing in the lemon and water mixture overnight.
Step 3: Wash the clothing.
Wash the clothing in warm water. Add ½ cup of vinegar to ¼ cup of laundry detergent. Like the lemons, the acidity of the vinegar works to remove stains and whiten clothes.
Step 4: Air dry the clothing.
Hang the clothing outside to air dry. Natural sunlight helps to return polyester to the original white color.
Can You Bleach Polyester Fleece?
Unlike natural fleece that is made from wool, polyester fleece is a type of synthetic fleece commonly used for outerwear. Darker colors of fleece don’t show dirt and stains easily. Lighter colors of polyester fleece can start to look dirty, especially when worn outside frequently.
Many people wonder if you can use bleach on polyester fleece. The answer is no. Bleach is too strong to use on a delicate fiber such as fleece. But you can use oxygen-based laundry detergent to whiten fleece. Here’s how.
- Turn the clothing inside out.
- Fill your washing machine with lukewarm water, then stop the washing cycle.
- Add oxygen-based laundry detergent following the packaging instructions. (It comes in powder form.)
- Stir the water around to dissolve the detergent.
- Soak the fleece clothing in the water for at least 10 minutes.
- Turn the washing machine back on to finish the wash cycle.
- Take the clothing out and hang it to dry.
Can You Bleach a Polyester/Cotton Blend?
According to Clorox, polyester and cotton blends can be washed regularly with chlorine bleach. For whitening polyester/cotton blends, they recommend using ¾ cup of bleach for normal size loads. You should also wash your white clothes with hot water. Add the bleach to the laundry a few minutes after the wash cycle has begun to be mixed with water.
You can also bleach dye polyester/cotton blends. This works better than bleach dyeing 100% polyester because bleach doesn’t damage cotton. Keep reading for more details on bleach dyeing polyester/cotton blends.
Can You Tie Dye 50% Cotton 50% Polyester?
You can tie dye a 50% cotton 50% polyester blend t-shirt, but the colors will not be as vibrant as they would be with 100% cotton. This is because dye sticks to cotton better than it does polyester. Your shirt will still tie dye, but the colors will be more muted or pastel.
If you want to make a tie dye shirt, you should choose the lightest color shirt possible, ideally white. Follow these steps to successfully tie dye a 50% cotton 50% polyester blend t-shirt.
Step 1: Choose your dye.
For dyeing a cotton/polyester blend t-shirt, you should purchase dye for both cotton and polyester. Choose the same brand and color in both dyes for the best results. Because colors will be lighter due to the polyester, you may want to consider purchasing a color intensifier as well.
Step 2: Mix the dye with water.
Fill a large pot with water. Choose an old or stainless steel pot, so the dye doesn’t discolor it. Put the pot on the stove and turn the burner on high heat. Add both dyes and the color intensifier to the pot, following the instructions on the package. Stir the dye into the water.
Step 3: Put the t-shirt into the pot.
Tie the t-shirt using rubber bands to create the design you want. Put the t-shirt into the pot of water. Continue to heat on high until the water comes to a low boil.
Step 4: Stir the water.
Add 1 cup of salt to the boiling water. Stir the t-shirt and water for half an hour to evenly distribute the dye.
Step 5: Remove the t-shirt and wash it.
After half an hour, remove the t-shirt from the pot and let it cool. Hand wash it with a mild detergent to remove any dye that didn’t stick. Hang the t-shirt to dry.
Here’s a video about how to tie-dye different types of folds:
Can You Bleach Dye 60% Cotton 40% Polyester?
Bleach dyeing is like tie dyeing clothing, but you use bleach to remove color instead of using dye to add color.
When bleach dyeing, you will get the best results with 100% cotton fabrics. This is because bleach reacts with cotton better than it does with polyester. You will succeed using 60% cotton 40% polyester blends, though, because the fabric is made primarily out of cotton.
Whether you want to bleach dye a t-shirt, hoodie, or some other clothing item, the process is really easy once you decide on a design. The video in the above section will show you how to create different designs using a t-shirt.
Once you’ve decided on a design, you are ready to bleach dye your clothes. It is important to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting bleach on (just in case). You should also wear rubber gloves to protect your skin. Follow these steps to bleach dye your clothing.
Step 1: Wash the clothing.
Wash the item you want to dye in the washing machine. This will remove any chemicals or dirt that would otherwise cause the bleach not to react properly.
Step 2: Create your design.
If you’ve decided on a design, use rubber bands to create the design while the clothing is still wet.
Step 3: Make the bleach solution.
In order for the bleach to be most effective, mix one part bleach with one part water to dilute it. Never use undiluted bleach on clothing.
If you have enough bleach, you can make the solution in a bucket or tub and submerge the clothing in the solution. You can also make the mixture and pour it into a spray bottle to spray onto the clothes.
Submerging it will lighten the color of the entire clothing, whereas spraying may lighten some sections more than others.
Step 4: Let the bleach sit.
To give the bleach time to work, the clothing should sit in the bleach for a while. This can be anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours depending on how light you want the color to get. You may want to l rearrange the clothing occasionally so the bleach will apply evenly.
Step 5: Rinse the clothing.
When you’re happy with the color, remove the clothing from the bleach solution (if you submerged it) while wearing rubber gloves.
Rinse the clothing in the sink with warm water. Remove the rubber bands and rinse again until you can no longer smell bleach. Hang the clothing to dry.
How Long Does It Take for Bleach to Turn Polyester White?
The amount of time it takes for bleach to turn polyester white depends on the strength of the bleach solution.
Using the recommended 3 tablespoons of bleach added to 1 gallon of water, you should soak items for no longer than 5 minutes at a time. The amount of bleaching that happens will depend on the type of dye and fabric. You may have to repeat the soak a few times.
Remember, though, that chlorine bleach will have a limited effect on polyester and may damage it instead of bleaching it.
We hope this article was full of useful information. Remember that oxygen bleach is recommended over chlorine bleach when bleaching polyester. It is safer and less harsh on polyester than chlorine bleach. For tie dyeing and bleach dyeing, it is better to use a polyester/cotton blend. If you enjoyed the article, be sure to leave a comment and share it with your friends.