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Pink Bleach Stains- Why They Happens and How to Treat Them

A short time ago, I tried manually removing a stain from a white shirt. It worked wonderfully, and within seconds, so I figured, "Why not remove those pesky yellow deodorant stains with bleach too?" Alas, when I sprayed pure bleach on the yellow deodorant stains on my shirt, it immediately turned pink. Baffled by how bleach could dye ANYTHING pink, I tried cleaning the stains with water and soap, but they only faded very lightly.

With a heavy heart, I discarded the shirt and went online to understand what kind of chemical reaction I witnessed.
Has this ever happened to you too? Let’s look into the science of this odd pink bleach stain, as well as the practical solutions to it, lest you have to part with your shirts too. 

Why does this happen?

pink bleach marks on white shirt
First, let’s dive into the science behind this chemical reaction. Bleach can turn your white clothes into a shade of bright pink when you try to remove antiperspirant or sunscreen stains with it. This is because these two substances contain metals; an antiperspirant contains aluminum meant to block your sweat glands, and most sunscreens contain one or both of the following metal oxide particles - titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These two metal oxides are considered natural minerals, as they occur in nature.

Bleach causes the metals to oxidize rapidly. In a way, you could say that what you see on your shirt is rust. This reaction may also occur if you use a hydrogen peroxide-based stain remover, but the risk is not as high since hydrogen peroxide is not as potent as bleach. Hydrogen peroxide might dye your white garments orange instead of pink.


How do you avoid it?

As always, natural substances like white vinegar, baking powder, and lemon juice do the job just fine. All you need is some patience. Refer to our previous articles on how to remove deodorant stains and how to get rid of sunscreen stains for an extensive explanation, step-by-step guides, and more tips.

How do I remove pink stains?

deodorant stains

If your shirt has been dyed pink with bleach, not all is lost. It's all a matter of trial and error, as even the chemical makeup of the water in your living area can affect the stain. Below we list several ways to try and remove those pink stains:

1. Try spraying the stain with hydrogen peroxide-based bleach. While it may cause staining on its own, when it comes in contact with an acidic environment created by bleach, it can reverse the oxidation, as shown in this video

2. Soak the garment in boiling water for two hours with a small scoop of powder detergent.

3. A solution of 1 quart of warm water and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar may do the trick. Soak for one hour.
You may also mix hydrogen peroxide and powdered detergent, but we would suggest treading carefully. Good luck!

Sources: 1,2.

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