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Can You Bleach Carpet to Make It White?

You still fondly remember when you got your carpeting installed in your living room or bedroom years ago. It was a pristine white color. Over the years, sun damage, spills, stains, and maybe a rambunctious child or pet have left the carpet anything but white. So, you might be wondering if you can use bleach to return the carpet to its previously bright hue. We did the research to bring you the answer.

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

If your carpet was white or very close to that shade (such as cream or ivory), then bleach can bring the color back to its original hue. You should always dilute bleach with water and do a spot test before applying it.

This article will be your guide to using bleach to restore the carpet to beautiful whiteness. We’ll also talk about some other things you can do to whiten the carpet and whether hydrogen peroxide works in place of bleach. Keep reading!  

Detailed photo of gray carpet, Can You Bleach Carpet to Make It White?

How to Bleach Carpet White

You use bleach as a household cleaner all the time, or perhaps you’ve added it to your hair a time or two to lighten that.

Well, bleach isn’t only for the bathroom or kitchen anymore! For carpet that was once white and is now stained, dingy, or dirty, bleach can whiten the carpet again…with a few caveats.

Cleaner using a strong detergent in cleaning the living room carpet

First, this only works on completely white or whiteish carpet and rugs as mentioned in the intro.

Read more: Can You Use Bleach To Clean Bathroom Tile Grout?

Second, even if your carpet is white, if it’s made of wool, you can’t bleach it. The harsh bleach will ruin the wool fibers.

If you’re ready to proceed, here is how to bleach carpet white.

Step 1

Begin with carpet that’s as clean as you can get it. Sweep it or shake out the carpet to remove loose dirt, dust, and debris.

Step 2

Prepare the bleach mixture in a big plastic bucket. You’ll need five gallons of water, a tablespoon of soda ash, and a tablespoon of bleach. We recommend powdered laundry detergent bleach for these purposes.

What is soda ash, you may be wondering? Soda ash is also known as sodium bicarbonate. It’s often found in soaps and detergents.

Step 3

Stir your ingredients after combining. Take a clean kitchen sponge and soak it in the mixture. We recommend wearing rubber gloves to avoid irritating your hands.

Do a spot test with the sponge, rubbing it over a portion of the carpet. Let it dry.

If you’re okay with the color after bleaching, then clean the carpet with the sponge again, focusing on the stained and discolored areas. Cover the area with water when you’re done.

Step 4

Next, combine a gallon of water with a cup of distilled white vinegar and stir it. Take a clean push broom and coat the bristles in the water and distilled white vinegar mixture. Rake the push broom over your carpet.

This step has a point. Distilled white vinegar can deactivate the agents in the bleach so they won’t begin eating at the carpet fibers. Plus, depending on your carpet material, the fluffing might make the carpet fibers look fresh and new.

Once you finish the above steps, you might have to repeat them a time or two again depending on how dingy your carpet was when you started.

How Do I Make My Carpet White?

Living room with carpet flooring with poufs and gray sectional sofas

If working with bleach sounds too scary for you, that’s a fair concern. After all, exposure to bleach can lead to a variety of unpleasant side effects including stomach and throat irritation and even nausea and vomiting.

You can make your carpet look fresh, clean, and white again without having to touch any bleach.

Keep in mind that these products are not dyes like bleach is. Your carpet must have been white and become discolored from stains or use. These methods will not make non-white carpet turn white.

White Vinegar + Detergent

White vinegar is your best friend in maintaining the luster of your white carpet. It doesn’t matter what kind of stains—white vinegar can remove them. That goes for everything from excrement to wet paint and stains from alcohol, berries, mud, jelly, gravy, and soda.

You can mix a teaspoon of white vinegar into water or combine white vinegar with detergent for ultimate cleaning power. You need as much white vinegar as water.

Transfer the fluids to a spray bottle and mist on the stains, blotting at your carpet.

Then combine 32 ounces of water with half a teaspoon of detergent. The detergent must not contain bleach. Once the water and white vinegar mixture has dried on your carpet, spray the detergent directly onto the carpet.

Using a clean kitchen sponge, rub at the mixture until there’s no more residue. You can use paper towels or a clean towel to soak up the liquid residue.

Rubbing Alcohol

For glue stains on carpet, rubbing alcohol comes in handy. You likely already have some in your bathroom pantry, which makes its use as a cleaning agent that much more useful.

Take a few cotton balls and wet them with rubbing alcohol. They don’t need to be soaking wet, but the cotton balls should be quite moist. Then rub the wet cotton ball over the stains on your carpet.

It may take a few times, but the stains will eventually come out and your carpet will look brighter and more luminous.

Ammonia Solution

For stains that white vinegar can’t treat, there’s always ammonia. Those stains include mustard, tea, coffee, chocolate, blood, and vomit.

Spilled coffee on the carpet

To use ammonia for a whiter carpet, you need a cup of water and a tablespoon of the ammonia. Stir the ingredients together and then pour them into a spray bottle. You should have a clean kitchen sponge to remove residue from the area.

Blot the wet spot on the carpet dry using a paper towel, and your carpet should look almost as good as new!

Read more: How To Clean An Area Rug Without A Carpet Cleaner

What Color Does Bleach Turn Carpet?

There’s a reason we’ve only recommended using bleach on white carpet. Bleach is not friendly with any other color. Even a mid-gray won’t look the same if you apply bleach to it.

So what colors will you end up with if you bleach carpeting? That depends on what the original carpet color was.

Blue is the color that stands the least chance against bleach, so it will be the first hue to go. Next, red will fade away into the ether. Finally, if your carpet had any yellow in it, the bleach will eat away at that hue.

The colors that were bleached can be either orange, yellow, or white. That depends on how long you applied the bleach.

If you accidentally applied bleach on the carpet, for example, and then quickly tried to blot it up, then the stain will look orange-ish. Bleach that was left to settle in longer will be yellow.

When bleach remains on the carpet for a while, whatever the original color was would be replaced with white.

Then again, it could be tinged yellow or orange, especially if we’re talking about a previously multicolored carpet!

What Happens If You Put Bleach on Carpet?

A vacuum going over the brown carpet

What are the full implications of using bleach on carpet? We’re glad you asked. These are points to strongly consider before you decide to bleach the carpet to whiteness.

Potential Discoloration

This goes back to what we talked about in the last section. A white carpet won’t become discolored by using bleach, but if yours was a pale blue carpet and the fibers were varying shades of blue, your carpet could come out spotty by bleaching it.

Skin Irritation

Whether it’s liquid bleach or powdered stuff, using bleach is never completely risk free. Unless and until you deactivate it, the bleach is active and quite potent.

This means that anyone who crosses the carpet–from you to your partner, your children, and your pets–could experience skin irritation if they sit or walk on the carpet.

Chemical Burns

Although it’s rarer, in serious cases, chemical burns could occur due to exposure to the active bleach. That could be the case for children and pets especially.

Does Hydrogen Peroxide Bleach Carpet?

A bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide

Do you have some hydrogen peroxide in your home? It’s a common product that’s mostly used for everyday cuts and lacerations.

Well, depending on the strength of the hydrogen peroxide, it can also be a bleaching agent. That’s true once the hydrogen peroxide formula is higher than 6%.

If using powdered bleach per the instructions above didn’t work on your carpet, you can always combine six pints of hydrogen peroxide (at least 3%) with half a cup of soda ash, a teaspoon of powdered laundry detergent bleach, and two quarts of lukewarm water.

In Closing

Detailed photo of gray carpet

You can use powdered laundry detergent bleach or even hydrogen peroxide to bleach carpet back to a previously white state. For colorful carpet, the results might not be as desirable, so avoid bleaching them.

If you do decide to work with bleach, please wear gloves and even a mask when applying it. Use distilled white vinegar to deactivate the bleach when you’re finished, or it can irritate the skin after bleaching!