Can Yarn Be Bleached? Guide and Tips To Know

Sometimes, we get yarns and end up disliking the colors or the colors do not suit the project as we desired and this makes us unhappy or even frustrated. Other times, the yarn fabrics get stained and we need to get rid of the stains.

Generally, several persons would never agree to this but it is possible to bleach yarn. Bleaching is a process of whitening your yarn to remove its original color using chemicals produced for the specific yarn fiber and also to get rid of stains on your yarn fabric.

The bleaching process is an easy method to alter your yarn color and a necessary process to pretreat your yarn before dyeing or printing. Each type of yarn fiber has a specific bleach designed to use on it to prevent ruining them, and if the instruction of bleach type isn’t properly followed, the yarn fiber will eventually get damaged. 

Why Do I Need To Bleach My Yarn?

There are a few reasons why yarn needs to be bleached which are considered to be the general take on yarn bleaching. Some of these include:

  • To alter the original color of the yarn.
  • To increase the rate at which the yarn absorbs.
  • It keeps the yarn from looking wrinkly.
  • To make the yarn color retain a white nature for dyeing or printing.
  • It helps to increase the rate of attraction between the yarn and the dye
  • To give a moderate dyeing leveling property
  • To make the yarn fit for use after conversion.
  • And also, to get rid of stains.

What Are The Things To Consider Before Bleaching My Yarn?

Knowing the various types of yarn that are bleach-safe isn’t enough as some of these yarns have care labels to guide you properly on their bleaching strength. Some of the unbleachable yarn fibers tend to however work well when bleached while some of the safe ones get ruined.

The following are things to consider or check well before you decide to bleach your yarn to avoid ruining it:

  • When bleaching is not properly done or the temperature is not regulated, the result becomes uneven.
  • Check the yarn to see if it is bleach-safe. If it is, check also the colorfastness to prevent it from ruining. If the yarn gets damaged, it decreases the tensile strength of the yarn.
  • The type of bleaching agent to use. The wrong bleach will damage your yarn.
  • The bleaching agent quantity to avoid overbleaching your yarn.
  • An incorrect solution concentration will weaken the yarn fiber.

What Are The Different Yarn Bleaching Processes?

There are 3 methods of bleaching your yarn – oxidative process, reductive process, and the combination of both processes. 

1. The Oxidative Process

This process is generally done for natural plant fibers cotton, jute, hemp, flax, and jute and regenerated fibers like bamboo, rayon, lyocell, Tencel, etc.

The oxidizing agents used are chlorine-based bleaches like chlorine dioxide, sodium hypochlorite, and sodium chlorite, and oxygen based-bleaches like hydrogen peroxide, oxygen, sodium perborate, etc.

2. The Reductive Process

This bleaching process is done for animal fibers (protein fibers) like wool, angora, silk, acrylic, mohair, and synthetic fibers like acrylic, rayon, nylon, etc.  The reducing agent used is sodium hydrosulfite, hydrogen iodide, zinc sulfide, etc.

3. The Combination

Combining both the oxidative process and the reductive process is done by firstly bleaching your yarn using the oxidizing agent and after bleaching again using the reducing agent. This process is mainly done when bleaching hemp, flax, and jute.

Here are the two methods involved in the bleaching process:

– Bleaching To Alter The Yarn Color 

This involves making a bleach solution and soaking the yarn in the solution to whiten or get rid of the color:

  • Get a wash basin and fill it with cold water. The water should be much such that it allows your yarn to move freely. Ensure to also take measurements of the water to have an accurate bleach measurement.
  • The bleach you choose should be the specified one for your yarn fiber. For every gallon of water (3.8L) add 60mL (¼ cup) of bleach. However, you can follow this recommended bleach usage: 

If the yarn is a white fiber, you can use chlorine based-bleaches and if the yarn is colored, use oxygen-based bleaches.

  • On colored yarn, you can use the usual chlorine bleach to lighten the yarn color.
  • If you’re using Clorox bleach, it is best advised to be more careful as it is a high-bleaching agent and if it comes in contact with the yarn, it causes it to bleed in the instant.

– Bleaching To Get Rid Of Stains (Using A Washing Machine)

Bleaching by machine involves adding your desired bleach, laundry detergent, and water altogether into your wash cycle to wash your yarn normally and get rid of stains including tough ones.

  • On your machine, the washing cycle should be set on a high heat as hot water allows you a more effective bleaching process and also allows chlorine-based bleaches to give chlorine fumes. (your washer should be that which can contain the fumes).
  • There are two ways to mix your solution: To your machine dispenser or directly into the washer, add the detergent and bleach. Then turn on the washer, time it, and allow it to run the normal way. Note: you should follow your machine’s instructions on the quantity to add or you can use 120mL (½ cup) of bleach for a much load. 
  • However, if your machine doesn’t have a dispenser, add the water into the washer first then add the detergent. Turn the machine on to mix the water and detergent properly, then add the bleach. Note: kindly follow your machine’s instructions on how to use bleach but if you’re not sure, it is best to add the bleach 5 minutes later. If you’re working a full load, add 120mL (½ cup) of bleach and if there are colored yarns, use only oxygen-based bleaches.
  • After you’ve propeller mixed the solution, add the yarn you want to bleach. Adding them last allows you to dilute the bleach to prevent the yarn from holding on to excess bleaches.
  • After the washer is allowed to run normally, once the wash cycle is done, remove the clothes but if you’re dealing with tough stains, repeat the bleaching process. By now, your yarn should’ve been neat, whiten, and stain-free.

When laundering, do not wash your soaked yarn with any dark-colored yarn or fabric as the dark ones may likely get bleached to the whitened yarn or fabric.

Also, detergents contain special cleaning enzymes that can be altered by bleach if you mix them at even which makes it best to mix the detergent with water first then wait for about five minutes later to add your bleach.

Is Bleach Safe To Use?

Bleach agents are chemicals that are corrosive and can cause skin, eye, and nose irritations and can also harm the lung when inhaled or absorbed through the skin. However, they are only safe to use when the following safety precautions are duly and properly observed:

  • Ensure the area is well-ventilated to prevent inhaling the fumes.
  • Avoid mixing it with other cleaning chemicals that contain ammonia. Bleach should be kept away from other cleaning products.
  • Always wear gloves, boots, and face goggles or shield for protection against inhaling or having eye contact with the bleaching agents.
  • Wear long-sleeved clothes to protect the skin.
  • Know when to dilute the bleaches and how to do that properly to have a standard concentration. 
  • If you’re working with people, let there be proper and professional training on how to use bleach.
  • Do not allow bleach in contact with metals, it tends to cause the metal to rust.
  • Bleaches should be kept away from sunlight and stored in a cool and safe place with the lids tightly closed.
  • Properly wash your hand with detergents and water after working with bleaches. 


Bleaching your yarn is an important process to pretreat your yarn and give it a white and bright look or get rid of stains. Bleaching to whiten helps to give it a dye affinity, a high-absorbing level, and brightness. If the above bleaching processes are properly followed, you’re sure to have a neat yarn fabric and high-quality yarn-washing products. 

For your safety and that of others around you, ensure to observe the listed precautions.