The White Mark of Death

So, I continue to be a walking disaster area as far as my clothes are concerned. In fact, in the past two weeks, I have managed to totally destroy three pairs of jeans/trousers. They were my three favourite pairs, of course. OF COURSE they were. Well, I wouldn’t have accidentally ruined that ancient, worn out pair I only keep around for doing the gardening in, would I? If you’d said to me, “Amber, we’re going to have to destroy three pairs of your pants now, and you have to pick which ones it is,” those three would seriously have been the LAST ONES I’d have picked, not even joking. (I’d also have HATED you for doing that to me, by the way. Because really, how twisted can you be?)

The first pair of pants to meet their end was a pair of chinos. Now, I loved those chinos. I loved them like a child. I’ve had them for… two years? Three years? YEARS, anyway. I have successfully kept them alive all that time, even although they are very pale, and being very pale does not bode well for you if you are an item of my clothing. I was pleased they had survived, though, because they were The Best Chinos In All the Land. You might think you have a better pair, but you are wrong, because these were the best chinos, and we will never see their like again. I spent YEARS searching for these chinos. Every pair I found was too big, or too small, or too long, or too short, or too high waisted, or made of some horrible, thin, crackly material that made me want to gag. These ones were perfect, in every way. They were The Bomb. I wore them constantly. Well, almost constantly. They weren’t just trousers: they were MY BEST FRIENDS.

Three weeks ago, though, I pulled on my best friends, and noticed a weird, white mark on the hip. Thinking it was probably toothpaste or something (I, er, quite often dribble toothpaste on myself. It’s one of my endearing quirks.) I went to the bathroom and tried to remove the mark with soap and water. It wouldn’t budge. OK, no big deal: I removed the pants, threw them in the wash, and thought that would be the end of it.

But it wasn’t.

When I took the Best! Pants! Ever! out of the wash, the mysterious white mark was still there. I was not amused. I washed the pants again. And again. Over and over, I washed the pants. The Mark didn’t budge. So I got some of those stain-removing products and I tried them. No dice. In vain I scrubbed at the mark. In vain I put the pants through yet another spin cycle. Nothing worked. And then, finally, after multiple scrubbings and washings, I realised that I’d scrubbed so hard at The Mark that I’d scrubbed right through the fabric and created a hole.

My best friends were dead. I mourned them. Oh, how I mourned!

(No, I couldn’t patch the hole. What am I, a farmer?)

Then I put the pants back in the wardrobe (Because I couldn’t bear to throw them away. THAT’S how much I loved them) and I pulled out my Favourite Red Jeans – also known as my ONLY red jeans – instead. I pulled them on, and…

… they had a mysterious white mark on the hip.


At this point I may have lost my mind just a little. I examined The Mark closely. I had no idea what it was, but I decided to call it The White Mark of Death. And so my cleaning trials began again, complicated this time by the fact that the jeans were a) bright red and b) expensive. I suspected that too much washing would take the dye right out of them, so I had to proceed with caution, trying to treat only the area with The Mark.

Again, nothing worked. And now I had started to worry that if I scrubbed any harder, I’d lift the dye right out of the area around The Mark, and be left with both The Mark and a huge, faded patch. I wanted to dye die.

So I put the red jeans aside, and I reached instead for The Best Green Jeans In All the Land.

Oh, the trials I went through to get these jeans. You see, I ordered my normal size. And they came, and I thought they seemed too small. So I sent them back, and I ordered the size up. And they came, and they were too big. So I sent THEM back, and I RE-ordered my usual size. And they came, and… were perfect. I loved them. I loved them for roughly two weeks: right up until last night, at which point I happened to glance into the mirror in the bedroom, and there it was.

THE WHITE MARK OF DEATH. On the knee of my beloved green jeans. That I had known for only two short weeks. That I had loved, and, sadly, had lost, because folks, that white mark? Is totally BLEACH. Or at least, I’m assuming it is: just prior to the discovery of the mark, I had wiped down some of the surfaces in the bathroom, and it would appear that in the two minutes it took me to do that, I managed to destroy the jeans. I guess I have to also assume, in the absence of any other explanation, that the other white marks were also bleach: honestly, I could not feel stupider if I tried.

So, now, the search is on, because, of course, all of the items in question are now sold out in my size, with the exception of the red pair, which are too expensive for me to replace right now. You all know how hard it is to find jeans that fit properly, right?

I hate myself. Wish me luck…

(Oh, and I’ve just remembered: when we were in San Francisco this summer, I ruined a pair of blue jeans by dropping MAC ProLongwear lipstick on them. I can confirm that that stuff DOES NOT COME OFF. Ever. Or, it does, but only with eye makeup remover, which also took the blue dye right out of the denim, leaving me with… THE WHITE MARK OF DEATH. GOD. So that’s four pairs of jeans lost this summer alone. I’m now down to just those pairs that are too old/badly fitting to be seen in public, but which I’ve kept around anyway for… I don’t know why. In other words, this summer I have destroyed almost ALL of my casual clothes. Looks like I’m going to be even MORE overdressed than usual for the foreseeable future…)

P.S. Just thought I should add that I do not dress up in my favourite jeans to clean. I wear old clothes for “proper” cleaning, but if it’s just quickly wiping something up or whatever, then yeah, I have to admit that I’m too lazy to go and change my clothes, only to have to change back two minutes later. I will now, though, obviously: lesson learned! (I hope.)

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books by Amber Eve
  • Oh no! I have such trouble finding trousers that fit nice that I really feel your pain on this! You should keep the green jeans (which are wrecked already) folded in the bottom of your wardrobe as your ‘cleaning the bathroom jeans’. If you only wear those when cleaning then you can’t wreck any more. Xx

    September 27, 2011
      • Erin


        I was just thinking that dyeing them might be an option 🙂 Black or navy would work on the chinos; the green jeans might benefit from black or a dark forest green?

        Definitely get your mum to do it, though. I worry about you and things like dye. 😉

        October 6, 2011
  • KON


    This year my beloved jeans died from dotage. They just fell apart. They were the kind of jeans, which belong to every closet. Now, mine lacks these jeans. And I miss them so much. Of course I currently don’t have enough money to buy some new ones, so now I can choose between 4 jeans >.>”

    So lets lament about our long gone jeans-friends.

    (I wish, I could knit me some new ones. I would do. Srsly.)

    September 27, 2011
  • Sandy


    I think I know exactly how you’re getting the bleach on your jeans/chinos. When you clean you wipe the surfaces down beautifully I expect, however, you forget the edges where some bleach has secretly run to, probably for the very reason of ruining your trousers lives.

    I know this because my friend used to constantly use bleach everywhere…and I mean everywhere and she always had a little white mark on her tops/trousers etc. I used to get quite paranoid leaning on any of her flat surfaces and would wipe underneath and the edges before any leanage.

    This does not help your current woes but it may avert future ones. I do agree with letting your mum attempt the dying tho! LOL!

    September 27, 2011
  • Oh no, this story is so sad! I had a similar problem when I was at university and it was because I was using the washing tablets – you know the ones that you put in a bag straight in with the wash? Well for some reason my washing machine stopped being able to dissolve them properly in the wash, and they were touching up against the clothing and bleaching it. This might not be what’s causing the white spots on yours, but it ruined a few of my garments before I sussed it out and switched back to putting powder in the tray instead.

    Oh and with you on being a disaster area around clothes. Nic bought me a new dress and I popped a seam trying it on, I don’t think I can wear anything without getting coffee on it…. part of my charm?

    September 27, 2011
  • that’s why I never clean in clothes I like. cause of course they’re bound to get a bit ruined during cleaning, because well, cleaning is a messy business! I have special “home clothes” I have for that. I’m surprised you would clean in your favorite jeans..

    September 27, 2011
  • oh btw this is an awesome dye:

    September 27, 2011
  • Oh no! Those red jeans were amazing. I’m so sorry for you…You should definitely try to dye them, or let you mom do it for you.
    I have many things in my closet that have been ruined, but I’m not ready to throw them away yet. So I know what you mean. And it’s so annoying that it’s always your favourite stuff that get ruined.

    September 27, 2011
  • Rachel


    I have, for years, kept bleach out of my house (I have a tendency to splash water over myself whenever there is water around, also milk, juice, yoghurt..need I say more?) Yet I now have white blankets for the dog, WHITE! So I now need bleach, I am just waiting for the day I take my favourite red dress out of my wardrobe to find white marks 🙁

    September 27, 2011
      • Rachel


        It might be more stupidity haha.
        Not long after leaving that comment, I walked into the kitchen at work, dropped a spoon into the sink which was full of bleach and water and was splashed! Argh!

        September 27, 2011
  • I have had this situation too many times but with dresses. I couldn’t help laughing along with empathy. I suggest dyeing the coloured trousers!

    September 27, 2011
  • Oh no! I’m sorry for your loss! But look at the bright side, at least the Mark of Death was not on your face this time around 😉

    Relatable Style

    September 27, 2011
  • Itzel


    My sister uses bleach to clean everything, she has ruined so many items, jeans, tops, jackets, everything you can imagine she has had to throw away because of white marks. Some of my clothes were victims of her bleach obsession because sometimes some was left on the counter, or the kitchen sink and I’d get some on my clothes. I NEVER use bleach at home, not even the wipes that have bleach on them, I know somehow I’ll manage to ruin something I like even if I’m cleaning in my sweatpants.

    September 27, 2011
  • Stacey


    I’ve had the same sort of problem, only mine is with my favorite shirts, and it’s when they come out of the wash, they come out with this sort of rust color spot on them. It only ever happens to my favorite shirts, it couldn’t happen to my cheap cleaning shirt, or my sleep shirt that no one ever sees. We’ve decided it’s bleach, but since my shirts are all dark, we don’t know how or why bleach is getting in the wash with them, and only on 1 at a time. It’s never on more than one shirt in the load at a time.

    There’s some shirts it’s happened too that I can’t bear to part with, so I’m walking around with these weird rust colored polka dots on them. Maybe it’ll be a new trend? 🙂

    September 27, 2011
  • I can empathise, I’ve just realised my FAVOURITE jeans that I’ve had and loved for 4 years have developed a hole – I’m hoping I can rip them, wait for ripped jeans to come back into fashion, then wear and love them again.

    September 27, 2011
  • Don’t throw them away! Dye them. Around these parts we have stores where you can take your clothes and dye them. But I guess if you can’t find a professional to do it, you could try DIY-ing the green pair. I mean, if they’re already ruined, I guess it can’t get any worse.

    September 27, 2011
  • Nikki G


    It is for this exact reason that I refuse to use bleach for cleaning. I love the smell of bleach (I know I’m weird), but it is so tricky to keep your clothes from inadvertently being ruined. I also have some stupidly expensive red jeans, but I’m almost scared to wear them because I don’t want to have to wash them too much and then have some stupidly expensive pink jeans because of the fading. Maybe the white mark o’death could be covered by a top if it is not too low on the hip? For the green ones, maybe you could cover them with boots? Good luck with the dye, if you decide to go that route.

    September 28, 2011
  • What about colouring in the marks with a permanent marker in the same colour? I’ve had success with that in the past. In fact I’ve even used a normal old felt tip pen to colour in bleach marks on my clothes before, although it washes out. But then, at least if it doesn’t work you can wash it out and dye them, whereas a permanent marker would show through dye.

    October 22, 2011
  • Just got a new pair of chinos,red an the white mark has appeared on them,I only have them for two day,so I know it’s not due to a wash,not a happy boy…Help!!!!!!

    July 31, 2012
  • Akbar


    I feel your pain, I normally handwash my chinos and this time I just threw them in the wash thinking it would be alright but it turns out that it rubs against itself and other hard fabrics and thats what causes the wide/faded marks :/

    My advice wash alone and inside out or handwash and then hang inside out learn from my many mistakes ruined 2 pairs that I only had for like a week 🙁

    September 22, 2012
  • Jennarose


    I am a new reader and thoroughly enjoy reading all parts of your blog. This section is my favorite because I have done a vast majority of what you have to your clothes. I cleaned with bleach one time and some how managed to bleach the knees of my pants. Not entirely sure how that happened. Another time I was at work and dropped a cottage cheese lid and without thinking caught it with the front of my body against the counter. Well there was cottage cheese all down the front of my skirt, I had to wash it out then used a glasses frame warmer to dry it out. Of course one of the doctors where I work walked through at that time. Slightly mortifying but the skirt survived the experience. Though that time was not as bad when I flipped the top of my water bottle open and it shot grape juice across the room (at work again) and stained the white work wall while simultaneously almost hitting a different doctor at my work in the chest. I am known for being a bit clumsy and accident prone at my work now.

    August 15, 2017