White Clothes Turning Red or Pink After Washing with Bleach

White Clothes Turning Red/Pink After Washing with Bleach

Have you ever washed a load of white clothes with bleach, only to find patches of red or pink? It’s frustrating, especially when you’re trying to keep your whites looking bright and clean.

But don’t worry, you’re not alone. This is a common problem that many people face when using bleach to wash their clothes.

In this article, we’ll explore why this happens and what you can do to prevent it from happening again in the future. So if you’re tired of seeing your white clothes turn pink, keep reading for some helpful tips and tricks.

What Causes White Clothes to Turn Red or Pink After Washing with Bleach

White Clothes Turning Red Pink After Washing with Bleach
White Clothes Turning Red Pink After Washing with Bleach

One of the main culprits of this color change is sunscreen, specifically the ingredients avobenzone, oxybenzone and octocrylene. They are common ingredients in many sunscreens and are known to react with bleach, causing a chemical reaction that results in the pink or red discoloration on your clothes.

Another possible explanation is that the red or pink color can be caused by fabric dye transfer. This happens when an item of clothing, such as a towel, gets washed with other items in the same load that contain dye, such as colored denims. The dye from the colored garments can then transfer onto the white items, resulting in a pink or red tinge.

Why are My White Clothes Turning Red/Pink Around the Sleeves & Collar?

Sunscreen is often applied to the arms and neck, which means that these areas are more likely to stain the sleeves and collar of your white clothes. The chemicals oxybenzone, octocrylene and avobenzone in the sunscreen can react with the bleach, causing the white fabric to change to a red or pink color.

How to Fix Clothes that Turned Red/Pink After Washing with Bleach

Reducing Pink Stains After 2 Washes with Color Bleach
Reducing Pink Stains After 2 Washes with Color Bleach

If your white clothes have turned pink or red after washing with bleach, it might seem impossible to salvage them at this point. However, there are a few things you can do that effectively help reduce and even completely remove those unsightly stains.

First, try washing the clothes again with a color-safe bleach or oxygen bleach, which will very likely help to reduce the red or pink color stains. It may take a few washes for the stains to completely disappear, so be patient and spread out the washing across a couple of days. You’ll notice the color turning to a lighter shade of pink and fading away after each wash.

If that doesn’t work at all, try soaking the clothes in a solution of water and white vinegar for a few hours before washing them again. You can also try using a color remover product specifically designed for this problem.

How to Prevent White Clothes from Turning Red/Pink from Sunscreen Stains and Bleach

So, what can you do to prevent this from happening? The first step is to check the labels of your sunscreen and other products that may contain avobenzone, oxybenzone and octocrylene. If possible, avoid using these products on days when you plan to wear white clothes and wash them separately from other clothes.

Another solution is to use a bleach alternative, such as hydrogen peroxide or vinegar, instead of traditional bleach. These alternatives are less likely to cause a reaction with the above mentioned chemicals and will still help to brighten your white clothes.

And if you know that you are applying sunscreen and still insist on wearing white, you can minimize or possibly prevent sunscreen stains from happening in the first place, by applying it at least 30 minutes before getting dressed, to allow it to fully absorb into the skin.

Why Does Sunscreen Cause Yellowish Stains on Clothes

Avobenzone, oxybenzone and octocrylene are chemicals that when come into contact with minerals in the water, such as iron or manganese, can result in those unsightly yellowish stains on clothes.

So be careful to avoid white clothings if you are planning a day out at the beach!

How to Remove Sunscreen Stains from White Clothing

Those pesky yellow or orange sunscreen stains are notoriously difficult to remove, but there are several ways that may help.

Start by treating the affected area with a pre-wash stain remover or a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water.

Let the solution sit on the stain for at least 10 minutes before washing the garment in the hottest water recommended on the care label. If the stain persists, try using a bleach alternative or oxygen-based bleach, but NOT chlorine bleach.

It’s also important to avoid putting your stained clothes into the dryer, as this can set the stain and make it more difficult to remove. Instead, repeat the steps above once again if needed, before letting your clothes dry.

Final Words

It’s important to remember that bleach is a strong chemical that can react with certain fabrics and dyes, causing discoloration.

It does not mean that your clothes are bleach-safe if they are white in color. There are many other factors that could cause bleach to discolor your white clothes, such as the one we covered in this article.

If you do experience discoloration and fear that it may be due to your sunscreen, try using a color-safe bleach or a dye remover product. And remember, prevention is key – consider washing your white clothes separately or using alternative cleaning methods such as vinegar or baking soda.

4 thoughts on “White Clothes Turning Red/Pink After Washing with Bleach”

  1. Aha! So sunscreen was the culprit. I’ve been cracking my head all day trying to figure how the red got there! Appreciate your article about this. Now I know.

  2. Really helpful article, 2 items rescued, 1 may be beyond help but washing again as per your instructions. Thanks so much!

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