We all know that bleach is a strong cleaning product that can deal with bacteria and germs. But however careful we are while cleaning, bleach stains still happen, and when they do, panic tends to set in. Most of us haven’t heard how to get rid of bleach stains, as we assume that they’re impossible to deal with. Fortunately, with a bit of quick thinking, they’re not – that’s why we’ve put together this step-by-step guide on how to remove bleach stains from common household surfaces.
How to remove bleach stains from carpet fibres and upholstery
There’s really only one way to remove bleach stains from carpets or upholstery, and it must be done straight away, before the bleach has changed the colour of the fibres:
- When dealing with powerful cleaning products like bleach, it is important to take the proper safety precautions. Protect your hands and clothing, work in a well-ventilated area, and check the label on the bottle for any additional safety instructions.
- Take a clean white cloth, and blot the excess bleach away from the stain. Don’t rub the mark or you will increase the size of the stain and push it further into the fibres of the carpet or upholstery.
- Apply a solution of a washing up liquid and water to the stain, and blot more of the bleach away. You can alternatively try diluted white vinegar, although be aware that the smell can be relatively strong in combination with the bleach.
- Rinse the area with clean, cold water.
- Lay paper towels on the stain to absorb as much water as possible. Once the area is dry, go over it with a vacuum.
If the stain remains, don’t despair – you might not be able to reverse the whitening effect of the bleach, but you can cover it up. For small stains, try using a commercial carpet repair kit (follow the instructions on the label), or use a fabric pen to re-colour the area.
- Take a fabric pen in a similar colour to the carpet and rub it gently along the length of the bleached fibres.
- With a damp white cloth, rub away some of the colour marker or crayon until it begins to match the tone of the carpet.
- Repeat until the stain is no longer visible, and allow the area to dry.
It’s much harder to cover up a large bleach stain on carpet floors. In this case it is probably best to consult a professional carpet cleaner, who may advise you to replace part, or all of your carpet.
How to get rid of bleach stains on metal
Yes, bleach can affect metal too! It tarnishes the surface of many metal objects, so be cautious when using it to clean. Avoid bleach stains using the following tips:
- Never use bleach to ‘sanitise’ your jewellery, or clean silver cutlery, for example – it will probably turn black. Use a commercial silver cleaning product (follow the instructions on the label) to remove any stains.
- Bleach is a corrosive, so always use cold, clean water to flush away neat bleach from metal surfaces before it causes damage.
- Use alternative methods to kill germs on metal items, like exposure to boiling water (drying it off carefully afterwards and being careful when using hot water).
How to remove bleach stains on wood
Bleach is actually used by many furniture restorers to lighten the colour of wood and remove other types of stains. But if your bleach stain is not deliberate, you’ll need to know how to restore your furniture to its original state.
- Regardless of whether your item of wooden furniture is varnished or not, sand away the surface of the bleach stain so that the original tone of the wood is exposed below.
- Clean away any dust with a damp cloth.
- If the colour below the bleach stain is different from the rest of the furniture, this means a wood stain was used to colour the wood. You will need to find a matching stain and apply it to the area you have sanded. This is remarkably easy – just follow the instructions on the label, and test a very small area of the wood first to check whether the stain will give you the desired result.
- If your furniture is varnished, add a finishing coat to the stained area. You can also apply furniture polish or wax to return the stained area to its original finished appearance.
Preventing Bleach Stains
One of the best ways to avoid making bleach stains on any surface is to follow the dos and don’ts of using bleach.
- Do consult the safety instructions on the label of your bleach bottle. This will give you specific guidelines as to the types of materials you can clean with bleach, and recommendations on how to use it safely.
- Do ventilate your home while using bleach.
- Do use rubber gloves while cleaning with bleach to protect your skin.
- Do avoid using neat bleach. Wherever possible, reduce the chemical’s corrosive properties by diluting it with cold water – hot water can interfere with its germ-killing properties.
- Don’t mix bleach with other substances – just add water. Ammonia-based cleaners, for example, can provoke dangerous chemical reactions when mixed with bleach.
- Don’t forget that many common household cleaners also contain bleach.
- Don’t let bleach sit on any surface for a long time – it may cause corrosion or discoloration.
- Don’t ever use household bleach on your hair or skin. It will do serious damage. Always use cold water to flush bleach off exposed skin, and buy specific lightening hair products to dye your hair.
- Don’t leave bleach within reach of children. If bleach is ingested it can be fatal.