Can You Bleach Polyester? (How To Bleach Polyester Safely)

It is always touch and go when you use bleach as a cleaner to get tough stains out or as a whitener. Some fabrics respond well to bleach’s touch but others do not like the chemicals used in chlorine bleach. Trial and error may be the only way to learn when and which fabrics to bleach.

Can you bleach polyester? You can bleach polyester but it is not normally something you should do on a regular basis. The chlorine bleach can damage the polyester fibers if you are not careful. But you can try using an oxygen bleach alternative to get those tough stains out. Start with 1/2 cup of powdered bleach for every gallon of water you use.

To learn more about bleaching polyester, just continue to read our article. It goes through this topic so you can be careful when you reach for the bleach when it comes to cleaning tough stains on polyester material.

Can You Remove The Color From Polyester?


There is a way to do this successfully but it does not involve traditional bleach. If you get some color transfer on your polyester clothing, you can remove it without too much trouble.

You need to use a detergent with enzymes and you really need to follow the instructions on the package carefully. Avoid high heat as polyester does not respond well to high temperatures and after pre-soaking in that enzyme filled detergent launder according to the instructions on the fabric’s label.

After air drying, as the dryer heat will set those color stains, use a color stripper to remove any color transfer remaining on your polyester clothing. Again, follow the instructions carefully. That is something we cannot stress enough. Instructions are there for a reason.

Is Polyester Bleach Resistant?

Here we have a complicated situation. On the one hand, polyester thread can be and generally is bleach resistant. This means that if you bleach a polyester item, your threads may not look like the rest of the garment if the thread was made from polyester.

On the other hand, polyester fabric is not a bleach resistant material. Too much bleach or soaking it in that chemical for too long can ruin the fabric and have you running out to the store to find a replacement.

In addition to that, bleach can remove the color from polyester fabrics. The safest way to bleach polyester is to use either an oxygen bleach or some natural bleaching method. But results may vary and you may have to leave the stain removing task to the professional dry cleaner.

Will Bleach Damage Polyester?


Yes, it can but usually only if you are not careful or do not follow the instructions correctly. They say you can soak polyester fabrics in chlorine bleach but only for a very short time and if the chlorine bleach is diluted properly.

A safer way to go is to use an oxygen bleach but there you have to use the type that is made to work with polyester. If you make a mistake somewhere along the line, the bleach can ruin the polyester fibers or remove all of the color and not just the stain.

Then, if the cleaning tag says do not bleach, any bleaching attempt is done at your own risk and you bear the responsibility if anything happens to those polyester garments you want clean.

Will Bleach Fade Polyester?

It is possible as synthetic fibers react to bleach in different ways. One tip is to make sure the bleach and water are thoroughly mixed and at the right amounts for each ingredient before adding your clothing.

How much fading takes place each time you bleach your polyester clothing items is not known nor can it be measured per se. Each person’s result may be different and if you use too much bleach or soak it for too long you can ruin the fibers.

This is a trial and error process and you should proceed with caution as bleach does not always produce the best results when trying to fade colors. You may try an oxygen bleach made for polyester to keep the clothing safer during this process.

Does Bleach Turn Polyester Yellow?


According to our research, bleach almost always turns polyester fabrics a yellowish color. The reason for that, and this is for white colored polyester clothing, is the chemicals used in making both products interact in strange ways causing the yellowish tint to appear.

To remove the yellowish tint, you can use lemon juice, borax, a laundry bluing agent, or iron out products. But there is no guarantee that your whites will lose their yellowish tint right away and on the first attempt. You may have to repeat the different applications to finally get your polyester whites nice and white.

Borax softens hard water automatically, so you won’t have to use a water softener to prepare your laundry water. Or you can try several different whitening processes if one does not produce the results you want.

Why Not Bleach Polyester

While bleach is seen as a go-to whitener or cleaning agent, it is not always the best product to use when trying to get polyester clothing clean. Chlorine bleach has chemicals inside of it that don't work well with other chemicals.

That includes those chemicals used to create the polyester fibers. Then if you are trying to whiten white polyester fabric, bleach will almost always turn the fabric yellowish. That means you have to do extra work to get the material back to white again.

Finally, many polyester fabrics come with the tag that reads do not bleach. That should be enough reason not to use bleach on polyester fabrics.

What Happens if You Bleach Polyester


We just talked about the yellowish tint that bleach can leave on your polyester whites. What it does to colored polyester may not be the same effect but bleach can ruin the fibers and turn your nice polyester suit into an expensive dish or cleaning rag.

To avoid damaging your nice clothing, you should make sure that you have diluted the bleach correctly and not over soak the material. You can switch from chlorine bleach to an oxygen bleach but only if that latter product is made to work on polyester fabrics.

The oxygen bleach is made from different ingredients that shouldn’t turn your fabrics yellow.

Will Hydrogen Peroxide Bleach Polyester?

This is one of the ingredients in oxygen bleach and it is used to bleach out stains from different fabrics. It is possible for hydrogen peroxide to bleach polyester. If you use the oxygen version then you need to soak the clothing for an hour in water and oxygen bleach, then wash at the hottest temperature allowed.

One product you should consider using is a 3% hydrogen peroxide blend to help get your clothes clean. It should work best on white polyester and does help remove blood stains.

Hydrogen peroxide also works well when you are trying to clean polyester and natural fiber blends. It is safer to use than chlorine bleach.

Can You Bleach Polyester White?


Usually, bleach is not recommended when trying to clean or turn polyester clothing white. Chlorine bleach will almost always turn the fabric a yellowish tint. It is best not to use full strength bleach directly on polyester fabrics. You will ruin the garment.

If you must use chlorine bleach make sure to dilute to 1/4 cup of bleach per gallon of water and only soak the material for 5 minutes. Full strength bleach may bleach the material white but each person’s result may not have that desired effect.

It is possible to use oxygen bleach to turn polyester clothing white but again you should read and follow the instructions carefully.

How To Whiten Polyester

Don’t use chlorine bleach when you attempt this process. It will leave a yellowish tint behind and you will have to turn to other whitening methods to do the job. Lemon juice, laundry bluing agents, borax are just some of the alternatives you have to use if you get that yellow tint.

If you go to oxygen bleach, follow the instructions for the amount of bleach and water to use. But be ready to soak the garments for up to 8 hours before you see any results. Some times you have to go overnight with the soaking

The good thing about using oxygen bleach to whiten polyester is that you can repeat the process if the clothing is not white enough.

Can You Bleach Polyester Cotton Blend?


According to the Clorox website, you can safely bleach poly-cotton blends in their regular bleach 2 product. The amount of bleach you use depends on the clothing and the size of your bleach dispenser on your washer.

There is a big but as some people have found that poly-cotton blends do not bleach very well and their nice jacket was turned an ugly mustard yellow color. Or the bleach did nothing to remove the stains.

Polyester is still a little troublesome when it comes to bleaching due to how it was made. Its chemical make up doesn’t change when combined with other fabrics.

How To Bleach Polyester Shirt

If your shirt is white and blended with cotton, you can use hot water and about 3/4 of the Clorox regular bleach 2. This should handle most stains you want to remove from the shirt.

Or you can pre-soak the shirt in 3 tbsp of the regular bleach 2 and a gallon of water for 5 minutes. The oxygen bleach made for [polyester will take several hours of soaking as it is not as powerful as chlorine bleach.

If you do not need the shirt right away go the oxygen bleach route as it is safer for the shirt and helps retain the integrity of the fabric.

How To Bleach Polyester Curtains


You can use chlorine bleach to whiten your sheers or lace polyester curtains but expect to see that yellowish tint show up if you do. The best bleach to use is to soak them in oxygen bleach for several hours, checking regularly to see how the process is doing.

There is one caveat to this. You can whiten your white sheers or lace curtains but you cannot turn red curtains a lighter shade of red or into pink curtains. Then you can use your washing machine and 1/2 cup of bleach with a cap full of laundry detergent and using the gentle cool cycle on your washing machine.

Again, there are no guaranteed results and yours may not be as good as your friend’s, or they may be better.

How To Get Bleach Off Polyester

If the bleach stain is that yellowish tint then you can use lemon juice, about 1.32 cup added to a gallon of boiling water. Then soak the garment for about 2 to 3 hours. If that doesn’t work, then you can try borax.

All you will need here is 1 to 2 tbsp and 2 cups of water. Mix thoroughly and then add to your wash cycle. Then there is what is called iron out. It works when bleach has a chemical reaction with well water. Follow the instructions on the bottle and the chemical reaction can be nullified.

Finally, you can try a bluing agent and get the bleach out while whitening the fabric at the same time.

Some Final Words

Reaching for and using the bleach is easy. It is also very risky if you add it to the wrong fabric. Don’t assume that bleach can be used for every fabric. If you do you may be changing your wardrobe sooner than you had planned.

Polyester and bleach are not a good combination. It is best to use alternative bleaching solutions that are safer for the material.

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