Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Bleaches and Carpets


Clorox bleached out carpet

What is bleach and how is it used?

Most people, when they hear the word “bleach” automatically visualize a gallon jug of Clorox® chlorine bleach. My dictionary says that bleach is anything that removes color. There are actually two primary ways of removing color - oxidizing and reducing.


An oxidizing bleach is a chemical that gains electrons and causes the oxidation of another substance. That is, an oxidizing bleach removes color by adding oxygen (or chlorine) to a dye structure, or even destroys the dye molecule by splitting it apart. The ultimate form of oxidation is burning - where the substance is totally destroyed by high temperatures and oxygen! Examples of oxidizing bleaches are hydrogen peroxide, chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite), sodium perborate, sodium persulfate and sodium percarbonate. Even ozone and medications such as some acne medicines containing benzoyl peroxide are oxidizing bleaches.

Pro's Choice Stain 1 Stain Remover and the two-part Pro's Choice Stain Magic® also contain hydrogen peroxide oxidizing bleach as one of their components.


  • Pro's Choice Stain Magic is a powerful two-part spot and stain remover system formulated especially for removing organic and natural stains such as tea, herbal tea, coffee, mustard, wine, vomit, wood furniture stains, urine, juices such as grape juice and other hard-to-remove “impossible” spots and stains from carpet, no matter how old!
  • Pro's Choice Stain 1 one-part carpet stain remover removes organic and natural stains from carpets and rugs. Stain 1 combines the stain removal attributes of Pro’s Choice Stain Magic® with the anti-soiling properties of ARA, butyl cellosolve and detergency to give you an incredibly versatile and effective universal stain and spot remover.
  • Pro's Choice Stain Magic for Wool, a 3-part system, is formulated specifically to remove organic stains use on natural fibers (wool, silk, cotton) which are are easily damaged by stronger spotters and stain removers.

HYDROGEN PEROXIDE is a clear, self-neutralizing, unstable oxidizing bleach that should be stored in a dark, cool place, in a dark colored bottle and kept no more than 6 months. When using hydrogen peroxide, such as whitening grayed rug fringes, start with the 3% strength found in most drug stores. Do not leave on stain more than 30 minutes and follow with wet extraction to ensure complete removal to prevent residual bleaching. In some cases, 3% hydrogen peroxide can be left on the stain on nylon carpet overnight without rinsing, but some risk is involved. Hydrogen peroxide oxidation can be accelerated by an alkali (pH over 7), by heat (very risky) or simply by sunlight. Hydrogen peroxide simply breaks down to water and oxygen as it dries, leaving no residue.

Pretest in an inconspicuous area for bleaching or discoloration of the carpet or rug dyes. Get a signed release because the carpet dyes may be irreversibly bleached out or changed. Attempt only on light colors. Use on wool VERY carefully. 3% hydrogen peroxide is excellent for whitening cotton fringes on oriental design rugs.

The 40-volume CLEAR hydrogen peroxide from the beauty supply house (usually labeled “40 Volume Clear Developer”) is 12% strength. The 30% hydrogen peroxide from chemical suppliers is 100 volume. “Volume” is not the same as “per-cent”!

Oxidizing bleaches are excellent against stains from mildew, furniture, ink, coffee, cellulosic browning, urine and feces.

CHLORINE BLEACH should only be used on solution dyed fibers. On 100% olefin carpet, it may be used undiluted, but should be rinsed out after use. On solution dyed nylon, it should be diluted to at least 1 part bleach to 4 parts water before use. Chlorine bleach will damage even solution-dyed nylon fibers and should only be used when nothing else works! ALWAYS extract out chlorine bleach after use. Be sure there is no bleach on your shoes, hoses, etc. where it might get on other carpet or furniture. NEVER mix chlorine bleach with any other chemicals. Household chlorine bleach is about 5.25% sodium hypochlorite with a pH of about 12! Chlorine bleach, even dry, can still be reactivated with water and its residue is caustic soda. Chlorine bleach dissolves wool and severely weakens cotton. NEVER bring a bottle of chlorine bleach into a house!

Don’t ever use chlorine bleach to remove a stain on anything but olefin or solution-dyed nylon! I read frequently on the web about using bleach to lighten or clean carpet or to remove urine stains - horrible advise!


A reducing bleach is a chemical that loses electrons and removes oxygen from a compound. Reducing bleaches are sometimes called strippers or stripping agents. Examples of reducing bleaches are sodium thiosulfate (photographer’s hypo), titanium stripper, sodium bisulfite and sodium hydrosulfite. Rit® Color Remover, Streepene®, CloroX Bleach Neutralizer, Red 1® Stain Remover and the two-part product Red Relief® contain reducing bleaches. Sodium bisulfite is a weak reducing bleach; sodium hydrosulfite is a very strong reducing bleach. Sodium bisulfite is a common ingredient in Haitian cotton shampoos. Reducing bleaches are accelerated by heat and by acid.

Reducing bleaches are especially effective against grape juice, Kool-Aid®, wine, iodine and Betadine®. Reducing bleaches also act as “anti-chlors” - neutralizing oxidizing bleaches such as chlorine bleach. CloroX Bleach Neutralize by Pro's Choice is an anti-chlor formulated to neutralize chlorine bleach on carpet.


  • Pro's Choice Red 1 combines two powerful stain-removing solutions that attack food dyes and other stains, breaking them down for easy removal during extraction.
  • Pro’s Choice Red Relief 2-part stain removal system combines two powerful stain-removing solutions that attack food dyes, Kool-Aid and other stains on carpet, breaking them down for easy removal during extraction cleaning.
  • Pro’s Choice Red Relief for Wool is a three-part system that removes food and drink stains and many more from wool carpets and rugs.

The biggest drawback to reducing bleaches is that the oxygen in air alone may re-oxidize the stain and it will reappear - after all, the stain was simply made colorless, not actually removed or destroyed!


Bleach neutralizers such as Pro's Choice CloroX Bleach Neutralizer, which contains thiosulfate, are chemical opposites of oxidizing bleaches and neutralize oxidizing bleaches such as chlorine bleach. Bleach neutralizers are often called “anti-chlors.”


  1. WARNING: Chlorine bleach dissolves wool and damages cotton.
  2. Absorb and flush the area affected by bleach with water.
  3. Repeat this process at least 3 times to remove as much contamination as possible.
  4. If the spill was extremely heavy, use the Water Claw® Sub-Surface Spot Lifter to more thoroughly flush out the bleach spill. Even then, it may be necessary to remove the contaminated padding to avoid chlorine bleaching fumes and liquid from wicking to the surface and ruining your repair.
  5. As with all cleaning chemicals pre-test your procedure in an inconspicuous area prior to using.
  6. Dissolve 3 ounces of Pro's Choice ChlorX Bleach Neutralizer per gallon of water.
  7. Thoroughly soak the bleached area with ChlorX Bleach Neutralizer to neutralize the bleach.
  8. Allow 3 minutes dwell time prior to your color restoration.
  9. Rinse out the anti-chlor.
  10. Very important: Remove as much moisture as possible before you begin your color restoration.
  11. Apply Pro’s Choice Pro-Solve NE (CMC Application Fluid) to contamination to wet carpet fibers in preparation to accept Color Modifying Cosmetics colors.
  12. Agitate gently to dissolve contamination and blot up contamination with a dry, absorbent cloth.
  13. You are now ready to restore the color to the bleached out area with the Pro’s Choice CMC Combo Kit.


  1. To use Rit Color Remover, dissolve 2 ounces of the reducing bleach in VERY hot water.
  2. Cover the stain with a white turkish towel.
  3. Pour the solution on the towel.
  4. Remove the towel after about 10 minutes.
  5. Thoroughly blot with dry towels and dry.
  6. Repeat if needed.
  7. Rit Color Remover is commonly sold in discount stores in the laundry area.
  8. Its primary active ingredient is sodium hydrosulfite.
  9. NOTE: Because this is a powder, protect it from moisture and spills.

Related Spotting Information and Articles:

Related Spot and Stain Removal Videos:

Related Spot and Stain Removal Products (Links Open to the Bane-Clene Store in Separate Windows):

NOTE: This article is a revised version of an article that originally appeared in the May/June 2000 Bane-Clene Cleaning Digest®.

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Copyright: Bane-Clene® Corp.

Date Published: May 1, 2000

Date Modified: July 31, 2019