Is it safe to bleach rayon fabrics? (Tips for bleaching rayon)

It is safe to bleach rayon fabric using non-chlorinated bleach. Chlorinated bleach can damage the fabric even if it is used in the smallest quantity. Rayon is a delicate fabric; when exposed to acids and bleaches, it is susceptible to damage. Therefore, always read the care label before you bleach a rayon fabric.

Key Takeaways

  • Rayon fibers are frequently used as an alternative to silk since they have a smooth feel and are very affordable.
  • Rayon is not as strong as other fabrics like cotton or wool, this also means that it can be easily damaged by bleach.
  • Ordinary bleaching compounds can easily break down the cellulose molecules of rayon fiber, making it weaker and causing fading.
  • Mild bleaching solutions such as oxygen bleach are the preferred solution for rayon fabrics when it comes to bleaching.
  • Rayon fabrics are best suited for dry cleaning and only wash them if the care label recommends it.

Can rayon fabrics be bleached?

Rayon fabrics can be bleached, but only with the right kind of bleach; chlorine bleach should not be used on rayon since it can harm the fabric.

Non-chlorine bleach, commonly known as “oxygen bleach,” is safe to use on rayon and has a minimal risk of causing damage.

Oxygen bleach is often used for color-safe bleaching, as it doesn’t damage or strip away color like chlorine bleach can.

It usually comes in powder form, so you’ll need to mix it with water before using it on fabric.

You will also need to ensure that you are using the right quantity, and the best way to determine this is by referring to the packaging instructions.

In most cases, the ratio of powder to water will be indicated on the packaging itself.

Once you’ve mixed up your oxygen bleach solution, soak the fabric in it for 15-30 minutes before rinsing well with water.

Also, you should always check the care label to see if the rayon fabric can be bleached in the first place.

To be on the safe side when you use bleach, test it on an inconspicuous area first.

So, whether you’re using chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach, read and follow all of the instructions on the packaging before you begin.

Why do you bleach rayon garments?

Over time, rayon garments start to appear dull or sometimes attract stains. Therefore, it may be necessary to bleach the fabric to remove such stains and brighten it.

And because rayon is a natural fiber, it is important to use mild bleach such as oxygen bleach when trying to treat rayon fibers.

Bleaching the fabric simply means soaking it in a mixture of water and bleach for a specific period of time, followed by washing it out with soap and water. This procedure is especially used for whites.

This method will remove stains from the fabric and leave it looking clean and bright. However, the type of bleach you should be using is entirely dependent on the fabric type (for rayon fabrics, use oxygen bleach).

People bleach fabric for a number of reasons, including to make it whiter or to simply remove stains from garments.

That being said, you should only think of this method as a last resort, and only if the care label permits you to wash the rayon.

So, if the care label specifically says that the fabric is “dry clean only,” then it’s best to stay away from bleaching.

Likewise, if the care label says “Hand Wash” or “Machine Wash,” then you can consider a mild bleaching solution as a last resort.

It is important to note that bleaching can also damage fabric, so it should be used with care.

How to bleach rayon fabrics?

Before you start bleaching your rayon fabric, it’s important to keep in mind that bleaching can damage the fabric if the wrong type of bleach is used.

The main idea here is to use as mild a bleaching solution as possible. Using oxygen bleach in small quantities should do the trick. However, use it in less visible areas first to see if it reacts negatively.

If the results are just as you expected, only then should you proceed with the bleaching steps below.

Let’s take a quick look at the requisites first before bleaching rayon.


Read the care label

Carefully read the instructions on the label to find out if the item can be bleached or not. If it specifically says to avoid bleach, then it’s best to stay away from bleaching.

Furthermore, bleaching will only work if the fabric is washable. In other words, if the fabric is “dry clean only,” you shouldn’t proceed with bleaching.

Gather the supplies for bleaching

Oxy­gen-bleach, a medium-sized tub or sink, and cold water.

Use cold water

Hot water can damage rayon fabric, so it’s best to stick with cold water when bleaching.

Instructions to bleach rayon fabric

Step 1: Pre-soak

Begin by soaking your fabric in a solution of warm water.

In order to do so, you can use a container such as a sink or a basin. Then, soak the rayon garment for about 10 to 15 minutes.

This will help to remove any dirt or debris that could interfere with the bleaching process.

Now, rinse the garment and take it out of the bowl and keep it aside.

Step 2: Mix oxygen bleach in water

To bleach rayon fabric, start by mixing oxygen bleach with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Do not add too much bleach; instead, use a moderate amount or as per the instructions.

You can use a container (a basin or a sink) to mix the solution well.

Step 3: Soak the garment

Now soak the fabric in the mixture for about 10 to 15 minutes, or as per the directions.

Make sure to soak it for no more than 30 minutes to avoid damaging the rayon fibers.

Also, ensure that it is completely submerged in the solution for better results.

This is an important step, and if it is done incorrectly, your garment will look faded or patchy afterward.

Step 4: Wash the fabric

In some cases, you can let the fabric dry before giving it a usual wash.

Or you can wash it as usual and then hang it to dry the garment before using it.

Note: Just be sure to rinse well and wash separately from other clothing items afterward.

Step 5: Rinse the garment

It is now time to rinse the rayon fabric thoroughly with clean water.

Always rinse your fabric thoroughly in cool water to remove any remaining residues.

Step 6: Drying method 

Rayon fabrics dry quickly, so you can hang them in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight.

Can rayon and spandex be bleached?

Since spandex does not go well with bleach and rayon is a delicate fabric, it’s recommended not to bleach them. However, if the care label allows you to do so, then use only a mild bleach solution and proceed with caution.

In most cases, the care label will discourage bleaching a rayon-spandex blend.

Rayon and spandex blends are typically labeled as dry-clean only, but they may also be labeled as washable in some cases.

In a nutshell, the care label will dictate whether or not it is safe to bleach your rayon and spandex fabric.

Tips for using Oxygen bleach over rayon garments

Oxygen bleach is a powerful cleaning agent that can remove tough stains from fabric. But you have to be careful when using oxygen bleach on rayon fabrics so you don’t damage them.

Here are some tips for using oxygen bleach on rayon fabrics:

  • Test the oxygen bleach on an inconspicuous area of the fabric before using it on the entire garment or item.
  • Never miss out to follow the directions on the oxygen bleach package carefully.
  • Add oxygen bleach to cool or lukewarm water and not in hot water. In other words, don’t use hot water to bleach rayon.
  • Soak the stained area or entire piece of fabric in the oxygen bleach solution for several minutes before laundering as usual.
  • Avoid using chlorine bleach on rayon fabrics, as it can damage the material.
  • Adjust the dosage of oxygen bleach based on the laundry size.

Final Thoughts

Rayon is often used in clothing and upholstery because it has a soft feel and drapes well.

Although rayon is long-lasting, it is not as resistant to bleaching as other synthetic fabrics such as polyester or nylon.

If you do decide to bleach rayon, make sure to use a gentle bleaching solution such as oxygen bleach.

With that said, it’s highly recommended that you test the bleach on a small, hidden area of the rayon fabric before using it on the entire piece, just to be sure it won’t damage the material.

Lastly, after bleaching rayon, don’t let it get too much direct sunlight, as this can damage it even more.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you whiten rayon fabric?

The best way to whiten rayon fabric is to use oxygen bleach. Oxygen bleach is gentler than regular chlorine bleach and works better with delicate fabrics like rayon if used in the right quantity. With that said, it is important to read the directions on the oxygen bleach package and follow them carefully.

What fabrics should not be bleached?

Fabrics such as spandex, mohair, leather, and silk should not be bleached. In fact, you should even avoid bleach on delicate fabrics such as wool and viscose. Before you try to bleach something, it’s best to check the care instructions on the label.

What is the difference between regular bleach and oxygen bleach?

The main difference between oxygen bleach and chlorine bleach is its chemical composition. Oxygen bleach uses sodium percarbonate as the active agent and is considered to be more color safe and gentle compared to chlorine bleach. Chlorine bleach, on the other hand, contains sodium hypochlorite and is considered to be a stronger cleaning agent.

Manish Singh is an expert in electrical engineering with a Diploma in the field. With over 12 years of experience, he specializes in repairing music systems, washing machines, dryers, and other laundry-related appliances. His in-depth knowledge in electrical repairs and decent knowledge about garment care makes him a trusted authority in the field of appliance repair and laundry related topics. If you have any questions or need assistance with your appliances, you can reach out to Manish through email: manish.singh (at)