I need to make some white silk whiter. How can I do that without using bleach?
Message: I need to make some white silk whiter. How can I do that without using bleach?
There are three main options for whitening silk; you might need to try more than one, washing the silk out well between the different methods.
One is to use hydrogen peroxide to do the bleaching. Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidative bleach, like household chlorine bleach, but it is much gentler. It is also, of course, less effective, but, as you probably know already, chlorine bleach will destroy silk. Hydrogen peroxide is safe if used with care, according to a reliable recipe. There is a recipe for bleaching wool with hydrogen peroxide on PRO Chemical & Dye's website; see "Bleaching Wool using Hydrogen Peroxide".
A second option which is probably more suitable for removing dyes is to use sodium hydrosulfite, commonly available as Rit Color Remover. This is a reductive bleach which works well for removing many dyes, but I don't know how well it will remove the natural color of undyed silk.
A third option is to use an optical brightener. Use this only after completing any other whitening steps you may take. This is a product which absorbs ultraviolet light and emits it as visible light, causing the fabric to become "whiter than white". Most laundry detergents contain a moderate quantity of fluorescent brighteners, but the amount they can contain is limited by the fact that they will make black and intensely colored clothing appear lighter, as well. There are several different products you can use that fall into this category. One is Rit Whitener & Brightener; another is an optical whitener called Uvitex BNB, sold by Dharma Trading Company.
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Posted: Thursday - August 10, 2006 at 07:13 PM