White Clothes Turned Green in Wash (How to Fix)

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Going green is important in the modern age, but we should limit this to our responsibility to the environment, not stains all over your garment, especially your white clothes! In this article, we’ve made a quick guide on why white clothes turn green and how to remove those tough green stains.

Why white clothes turn green in the wash?

There are a few reasons why your white clothes have turned green. Chlorophyll in algae contaminated water, as well as vegetables and grass, can stain your clothes. Alternatively, the sodium hypochlorite in bleach can mix with metals in your water to create green stains. Learn more below.

1. Algae contaminated water

If your white clothes came out green out of the washer, algae might be the one to blame. Indeed, not only is green algae the number 1 cause of house stains, but it can also dye fabrics in the washing machine.

Algae is a simple, nonflowering, and typically aquatic plant of a large group that includes the seaweeds and many single-celled forms. It contains chlorophyll, which gives algae its deep and rich green color.

This chlorophyll acts like a dye stain. They also contain chemical compounds called xanthophylls and carotenoids, which are pigmented as well. These are all naturally occurring compounds, so they will often bind to the fibers of a natural fabric like cotton, silk or wool. (Source)

So, if your whites have turned green, check your water, especially if you use water from an open rooftop tank. You should always cover water sources to avoid algae growth that would make your water green.

2. Sodium hypochlorite mixed with some metals in the water

One possibility of white clothes turning green is using bleach. Some bleaches contain sodium hypochlorite, which can react with some metals in the water supply or wash water to create that green color.

A customer accidentally hand washed her white cotton blouse in hot water, detergent, and bleach. The blouse had become a lovely shade of pale green. Ask yourself, have you done something similar?

Most homes using well water will often find traces of metals inside the water, unlike most municipal supplies. Ideally, you would want to check the water hardness level in your home to decide how much detergent to use.

3. Vegetable and grass stains

Like algae, vegetables and grass contain chlorophyll, which is the green pigment of the plant's juices that are responsible for absorbing sunlight. It acts like a green dye stain and can bind to the fibers of clothing.

However, unlike algae contaminated water, the source of the green stain may originate from whatever you put inside the washing machine. You may have traces of grass or vegetables in the clothes.

Preventing green stains from vegetables and grass is very easy. All you have to do is to check every item of clothing before you throw them in the wash. Make sure there aren’t stains or greens.

4. Copper in your water

Another possibility is that your water contains copper, which is often the result of internal copper pipe corrosion. As pipes corrode, the copper dissolves into the water, producing a greenish-blue tint when it reacts with the water. That being said, copper in the water is more likely to cause your white shirts to turn blue.

How to fix white clothes turned green

You've got a tough stain to tackle, but there are some easy-to-use products that can get the job done. Dish soap, white vinegar, and rubbing alcohol might not be strong enough to restore whites to their original color.

1. Use Carbona Stain Devils #6 for algae and grass stains 

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The first thing to remember is that you should avoid using ammonia, degreaser, or alkaline detergents at all costs, as these are known to set in green stains from algae, grass, or vegetables. Often, the sooner you deal with the stain, the more likely it is to come out.

Luckily, there is one product called the Carbona Stain Devils. It is made specifically for this type of job. The product comes with 9 different formulas for different stains. For grass stains, you need formula number 6.

Start by rinsing the white clothes with cold water to stop the green stains from setting further into the fabric. When the area is wet enough, you are ready to start tackling the stain. Whether you are trying to remove a small stain or a large stain, you can learn how to use the Carbona Stain Devils right here.

2. Use oxygen bleach for anything else

If the green stain is a water issue or a bleach accident, try using oxygen bleach, also known as non-chlorine bleach. It uses hydrogen peroxide instead of sodium hypochlorite, making it less toxic.

To start, dissolve oxygen bleach in hot water, then add enough cold water to cool the mixture. Soak the stained clothes in this solution for 15-30 minutes, then rinse. If the stain remains, try wetting the stains with 3% hydrogen peroxide. Allow it to sit for a few minutes and then rinse thoroughly.

Key takeaways

Now you know why your white clothes have turned green in the washer. Algae contaminated water and grass stains are very common, but it can also happen when some bleaches combine with metals inside the water of your washing machine. Copper can also turn white clothes greenish blue.

Thankfully, you now know how to fix white clothes that have turned green. The Carbona Stain Devils #6 can tackle algae or grass stains, while oxygen bleach can fix washing accidents and hard water stains.

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