How to bleach a shirt

01 October 2016

How to bleach a shirt

The mere thought of bleach sends most recoiling. We’ve all had the one experiment that has gone wrong, the one pair of good jeans ruined by a splash, to only ever surface for garden chores. But what about bleaching a wardrobe of white shirts? There's no glamorous way of putting it: while they look good, white shirts get dirty. They yellow, they stain and they sometimes wear half your lunch. You can combat this and keep your whites looking crisp and it's easier than you might think. 

Firstly, bleach is a chemical and it should be treated as such. While it's not hydrochloric acid it's still corrosive and can do damage to fabrics and skin. Minimise your exposure by wearing gloves and bleaching in a safe place, such as in a bucket in the laundry or bathroom. Once you have that situation sorted then it's time to rock.

There are several methods which people swear by, but we think you can’t beat soaking shirts in bleach. It doesn’t have to be for long—in fact, it’s better if it isn’t—bleach is a strong beast and can do a lot in a short while. Use the directions on the bottle as a guide and dilute an amount of bleach (usually a quarter to half a cup) in a bucket with warm water and leave your shirts to do their magic. After about ten minutes throw them in the washing machine and let it do the rest. For extra stubborn stains such as around the inside of the collar or under the arms, we recommend using a stain remover on those areas first. While bleach can lift some of the detritus, its primary function is to whiten. 

Some would recommend adding bleach directly to the wash for larger loads of whites, and while this might work for towels and linen, we wouldn’t advise it for your shirts as the fabric is more delicate. Although magical, too much exposure to bleach can actually destroy the fibres of the fabric and reduce the wear you will get out of your shirt. 

As you can see bleach isn’t the enemy and can keep your business shirts pristine. Doing so will make your suit look brand new and your neckties pop. Keep it in your laundry supply, but do exercise caution when using it. If in doubt, send them out: enlist your local dry cleaners and they can probably press them too!