Bleach Color Loss

Q: After drycleaning a light blue blouse I noticed small areas of color loss on the lower right front panel. The blouse was not treated for stain removal while in the plant. What could have caused the color loss?

A: One of the most common causes of color losses in localized areas is contact with an oxidizing agent, such as a bleach, prior to the cleaning process. Oxidizing agents are found in hair care products, acne preparations, medicines for the skin, home bleaches, disinfectants, scouring products, and other cleaning agents. The discoloration may not show up until the item is exposed to the heat in the drying cycle or steam finishing. The drycleaning process is a total immersion process and cannot cause localized areas of color loss. A color loss from an oxidizing agent is permanent. In some cases, it may be masked by the use of a dye pad or dye pencil, or by re-dyeing the entire garment.


Accidental contact with an oxidizing bleach caused the color loss spots on the front of this shirt.

Suggested Reading
DLI Standard, Gold and Premier members may also see these items in the Encyclopedia of Drycleaning Online:

  • Shirt Laundry Procedures No. 32 - Facts About Hypochlorite Bleaches
  • TABS No. 483 - Loss of Color from Bleach
  • TABS No. 397- Bleach Causes Fabric Damage
  • Industry Focus - Use of Bleaches in Stain Removal