Bleached vs Unbleached: Can You Bleach Muslin Fabric

There are those people who think bleach is the answer to every fabric problem. Unfortunately, not all fabrics respond to bleach the way they expect, and these people are left with an ugly mess on their hands.

Can you bleach muslin fabric? The best answer to this question would be to tell you to look at the tag. There may be some muslin cloth that can be bleached and others that may not be. Bleach can destroy the fibers in this fabric and every expert we read did not mention that bleaching it was okay.

To learn more about this situation just continue to read our article. It explores the issue so you have the answer you need when it is time to clean the stains off your muslin articles.

Can You Bleach Muslin Fabric?


If the tag says it is okay to bleach the muslin clothing or other item you have in your home then you should go ahead and bleach it. If it says do not bleach, then do not bleach. Those tags are there for a reason.

If your muslin item can be bleached it is best to use a very diluted amount. The dangers you are facing is that if the bleach is too strong, it may ruin the fibers and your item.

Then if you need to get stains out, only soak the muslin item in the bleach solution for about 5 minutes. If you want to lighten the color then leave it in the diluted bleach solution for 10 minutes.

Bleaching is always tricky as it is so easy to make a miscalculation and mess up a very fabulous looking fabric.

What is Bleached Muslin?

Generally, unbleached muslin is a cream color. It is the natural look of fabric before commercial bleaching takes place. If you think the pure white color of fabrics is the unbleached look, you would be mistaken.

White is the color of the fabric, whether muslin or not, when it has gone through the bleaching process. Unbleached muslin can feel more coarse, rougher, and not that pure.

The natural fibers are not pure white either. That white look depends on commercial bleaching before the fibers are turned into thread or fabric. Because of the extra work involved, bleached fabric tends to be more expensive than unbleached fabrics.

Then to set the record straight, you cannot bleach unbleached fabric and turn it white. You would have to go through the dyeing process to get that pure white look.

Muslin Bleached vs Unbleached


If you are going for a certain look then you would want the bleached muslin fabric. It is smoother to the touch and comes in a nice white color that goes with any accessory you want to put with it.

The difference is not really in whether the cloth has been bleached or not but in thread counts, quality of material, and other factors. One of those factors is what you are going to use the cloth for.

There are different applications where unbleached muslin is better than bleached and vice versa. On top of that, your proposed color scheme will have some say in which fabric you use. If you want a lighter motif, then you go with bleached. If not then you go with unbleached.

Other than color there is little to no difference between the two styles of this fabric.

How To Bleach Unbleached Muslin

There is really no reason to bleach unbleached muslin. The natural color of the fabric is cream and bleaching that fabric is not going to change the color to something it is not. White is the normal color for any cotton or muslin cloth that has gone through the bleaching process.

Bleaching unbleached muslin only works if you are trying to remove stains. Then you need 1/4 cup bleach for every gallon of water you use. After that, you only soak the fabric for about 5 minutes.

If you are trying to lighten the color you probably will only ruin your unbleached fabric and not whiten it or lighten the shade. Make sure to do a test first before trusting your nice muslin items to a bleach treatment.

How To Bleach Muslin White


You can try this method but remember that bleach will not turn all fabrics white. Sometimes the chemical will damage the fibers ruining the clothing item which is why bleaching muslin must be done with caution.

If you must bleach a muslin item white here is the process that may work for you. The first thing you do is fill a bucket or basin with 1 part bleach and 5 parts warm water.

The second step is to place the garment in the basin or bucket and make sure it gets fully submerged. The next step is to watch the fading process. Remove the garment when it is the color you want it to be. If you want all the dye removed, then wait till the garment turns white.

The final step has you soaking the garment in a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water. 1 part hydrogen peroxide and 10 parts water. This will neutralize the bleach and stop it from continuing to remove the dye or harming your fabric’s fibers.

After the final step, wash normally to make sure the hydrogen peroxide and bleach are completely removed. It is possible to use your washing machine to bleach an item white. If you do not have a soap and bleach dispenser then you need to add the water and soap first.

Wait five minutes till those are thoroughly mixed then add your bleach. Mix well. When that is done, add the fabrics you want to bleach white and let the cycle continue normally. Dry when done.

You can repeat these steps if the dye is not completely gone or if the stains remain on the white shirts, etc.

Why Do Manufacturers Bleach Muslin?

The main reason why muslin fabric manufacturers bleach muslin is to remove all the impurities that block the dyes from adhering to the fabric. Natural or unbleached muslin comes with a lot of impurities like pesticides, oils, fertilizers, and more.

Those impurities need to be removed before any dyeing can take place. Bleached muslin comes in a variety of colors and it is the fabric you can bleach white if you do not like the dye color or the color of the clothing has faded unevenly.

Once you get all the dye removed, you can redye the item to whatever color you want it to be. Or you can skip the bleaching process and try to redye the item a darker color. Just never go lighter than the color already on the item. It doesn’t work out well.

Pros And Cons of Bleaching Muslin


The main pro to bleaching is to remove stains. Bleach is a powerful cleaner and it gets those stains out when applied properly. There is another positive to bleaching muslin items. It is to turn the fabric white and get it ready for redyeing.

Bleaching the fabric makes it better to dye and helps the fibers be more accepting of those dyes. There are a couple of cons that come with bleaching anything including muslin materials.

First, bleach is a harmful chemical and it pollutes the water supply and harms the environment. Second, it is harmful to our skin. The bleach residue can be and is absorbed by the skin causing medical issues.

A final negative is that bleach can and will ruin fabric fibers.

Where Muslin Can be Found

There are some unique uses for this fabric whether it is bleached or unbleached. The first place you can find muslin fabric is in gauze. That is the stuff you use to dress wounds. The gauze is a very sheer form of muslin.

The second place you can find muslin put to good use is in cheese making. The fabric is used to separate the milk curds from the liquid whey. Then muslin is often used for life-saving surgeries.

When a person suffers aneurysm, doctors use a muslin cloth to wrap around the repaired artery to make it stronger. The muslin also helps to prevent future ruptures. As an honorable mention, muslin is also used by photographers for their background materials.

Some Final Words

Bleached or unbleached muslin, that is the question. The answer is that the style you use will depend on your purpose and application. There is little difference between the two styles of the fabric so no matter what you need it for both styles will work.

The smoother feel of bleached fabric may be an influential factor when it is time to make a choice and the lower cost of unbleached muslin may persuade you to go with that fabric style over the bleached.

You can bleach the bleached muslin but trying to bleach the unbleached may be a waste of time. You are more likely to ruin the fabric than change it.

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