Washing clothes with bleach helps to whiten, brighten, and even disinfect fabrics. Through oxidation, bleach changes laundry stains and soil into soluble particles that detergents can remove in the washing process.
Three types of bleach are commonly used for laundry:
- Chlorine bleach, or sodium hypochlorite (e.g., Clorox, Pure Bright)
- Oxygen bleach, or sodium percarbonate (e.g., OxiClean, Nellie's Oxygen Brightener, Clorox 2)
- Hydrogen peroxide (3 percent solution)
Follow these steps for how to correctly wash clothes with bleach.
Never mix any type of bleach with ammonia. The combination will cause dangerous fumes.
How to Wash and Care for White Clothes
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Washer or large sink
- Measuring cup (optional)
- Bleach (chlorine bleach, oxygen bleach, or hydrogen peroxide)
- Cotton swab (optional)
|How to Wash Clothes With Bleach|
|Water Temperature||Varies by fabric|
|Cycle Type||Varies by fabric|
|Drying Cycle Type||Varies by fabric|
|Special Treatments||Follow specific instructions for each type of bleach|
|Iron Settings||Varies by fabric|
How to Use Chlorine Bleach in Laundry
A powerful home bleach, chlorine bleach is a 5.25 percent solution of sodium hypochlorite, a chemical compound. The liquid version is the most common, but a dry formula is also available. Both must be diluted with water for safe use on fabrics.
Test Fabric for Colorfastness
Before you use chlorine bleach on a garment, test the fabric for colorfastness. Mix 1 teaspoon bleach with 2 teaspoons warm water. Find an inconspicuous spot on the garment, such as an inside seam. Dip a cotton swab in the bleach and water solution, and dot the fabric. Allow the spot to dry completely. If you see any change in color on the fabric or a transfer of color to the swab, don't use chlorine bleach on this fabric. (This often happens when chlorine bleach is tested on colored clothing.)(Video) How To Do Laundry : How to Wash Whites When Doing Laundry
Don't use chlorine bleach on silk, acetate, wool, wool blends, spandex, rubber, polypropylene foam, or some flame-retardant fabrics. It weakens the fibers and causes them to break.
Add Chlorine Bleach at the Correct Time
Chlorine bleach should never be poured directly onto clothes in a sink or washer because it can remove color completely and dissolve the fibers. Either add the bleach to an automatic dispenser or into the washer water before adding the laundry. Add laundry detergent as you would normally.
Use Fresh Chlorine Bleach for Best Results
Liquid chlorine bleach has a limited shelf life. Over time, it loses its effectiveness due to exposure to light and air. If the bottle has been open for more than six months, the bleach should be replaced because it might not disinfect clothing or remove stains properly.
How to Use Oxygen Bleach in Laundry
Oxygen bleach, often called all-fabric bleach or colorfast bleach, is safe for most fabrics and colors. It has a variety of uses. Oxygen bleach works more slowly than the harsher chlorine bleach, and it has no disinfecting qualities to kill bacteria. However, having patience when using oxygen bleach will yield great results.
Oxygen bleach should not be used on silk, wool, or leather because it will weaken and damage the materials.
Use the Most Effective Formula
Oxygen bleach is most effective when a powdered formula is used and mixed with water to activate. Liquid formulas of oxygen bleach lose their effectiveness soon after the product is opened and exposed to air, and the bleach solution turns to water. Even though some detergents include oxygen bleach, use a full oxygen-bleach formula to boost your regular detergent.
How to Add Oxygen Bleach to the Washer
If using powdered oxygen bleach to wash laundry, add the powder to the empty washer tub first. Or you can add it to the wash water before adding clothes, depending on your washing machine type. Never put powdered oxygen bleach directly onto clothing, because it can cause uneven spotting. Liquid formulas can also be placed in the automatic bleach dispenser.
Create an Oxygen Bleach Solution
When mixing powdered oxygen bleach with water to create a stain-removal solution, use warm water to ensure that all the powder dissolves. Once dissolved, add cold water to cover the fabric if needed. Completely submerge the stained garment, and allow it to soak as long as possible—up to eight hours or overnight.
How to Use Hydrogen Peroxide in Laundry
The same hydrogen peroxide that you use to clean minor wounds or achieve "sun-bleached" hair can be used in the laundry room. It's most commonly available at pharmacies in concentrations of 3 percent to 6 percent in a water-based solution.
Add the Hydrogen Peroxide Correctly
Even though hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleach, it should never be poured directly onto clothes in a sink or washer because it can remove color. Either add the bleach to an automatic dispenser, or pour a cup into the washer water before adding the laundry. Add laundry detergent as you would normally.
Treating Stains With Bleach
If you prefer to spot-treat a stain with any of the three types of bleach rather than wash an entire load, dilute your choice of bleach in cool or lukewarm water to make a weak solution. Dip a clean white cloth into the diluted bleach solution and dab it on the stain until it is gone. Then launder the item as usual.
Excessive heat from an iron can cause a yellow hue on bleached parts of a garment. It's also possible to scorch a bleached part of a garment with a hot iron. (On the flip side, you can sometimes remove scorch marks using bleach.) For best results, iron a bleached item inside out using a press cloth, a cooler iron setting, or one that the garment's label suggests.
Storing Clothes Washed With Bleach
Bleached clothing has a way of yellowing when stored unless you take some precautions. When hanging or storing any clothing washed with bleach, make certain your hands are free from lotions, oils, soaps, or water. Store items in a cool, dry space. If you are storing bleached items in a container, make sure they are wrapped in acid-free archival tissue paper and placed in a box made from polypropylene (the box will say "PP" on it).
How Often to Wash Clothes With Bleach
You don't necessarily need to limit how often you use any of these bleaches. However, be mindful that you're correctly using each bleach on the right fabrics. You also don't want to overbleach clothing, especially with harsher chlorine bleach. Repeated use of chlorine bleach can weaken cellulosic or cotton/ramie/linen fibers and cause yellowing of white synthetic fabrics by stripping the outer fibers and revealing a yellow inner core.
Tips for Washing Clothes With Bleach
- Never pour full-strength chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide into a washer filled with clothes, even if the load is filled with whites. Dilute in cold water before adding to clothes. Cold water helps dilute chlorine bleach, as opposed to warm which helps dilute oxygen bleach.
- For each garment, read and follow care instructions and any warnings on the fabric care label regarding the use of bleach.
- If you're spot-cleaning a layered garment with bleach, be mindful that you're only bleaching the layer you need brightened. You don't want bleach to seep into and accidentally damage a bottom layer of the clothing.
- Do not overly dry an item washed in chlorine bleach or peroxide or the heat could yellow the garment.
Can I use bleach and laundry detergent together?
Yes, but you will need to put bleach into your washer or laundry water before you add detergent. This is to help the bleach evenly dissolve in the wash.(Video) HOW TO REALLY WHITEN DINGY CLOTHES AT HOME!!! (Easy & Fast) | Andrea Jean Cleaning
Where do I put bleach in my washing machine?
It depends on which type of bleach you are using. Add chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide to an automatic dispenser or into the washer water before adding the laundry. Add powdered oxygen bleach to the empty washer tub or to the wash water before adding clothes.
How much bleach do I add to laundry?
Read the label on the oxygen bleach product to determine how much to add for an entire load of laundry. For liquid chlorine bleach, you can add 3/4 cup for an average-size load. For hydrogen peroxide, add 1 cup to the dispenser or dilute 1 cup in 2 cups water and add to the washer water or drum.
The Best Laundry Whiteners to Keep Your Clothes Bright
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Cleaning and Disinfecting With Bleach. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Household Cleaning & Sanitizing. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Is it safe to wash clothes with bleach? ›
If there is no color change, you can safely launder the item with bleach. Solution-dyed fibers, including acrylic, nylon, polyethylene, polypropylene and high-energy polyester, exhibit strong colorfastness when exposed to bleach. Almost all cotton whites and most synthetic whites are safe to wash in liquid bleach.Can you put bleach in the washing machine? ›
How to Use Bleach in Laundry to Clean, Whiten, Remove Stains and Sanitize. You can add bleach to every load of bleach-safe laundry along with your regular detergent to clean, whiten, remove stains and sanitize your clothes.Can you mix bleach and laundry detergent? ›
There are several ways to add bleach to your washload. Our standard directions are to add bleach WITH the detergent as the wash water is filling and BEFORE the clothes are added. The reason is you want to dilute the bleach concentration before you add the clothes.Do you wash clothes with bleach in hot or cold water? ›
The facts are: Clorox® Regular Bleach2 disinfects effectively in hot, warm or cold water whether for laundry or household cleaning/disinfecting. For maximum cleaning, stain and soil removal, one should wash with hot water with detergent and Clorox® Regular Bleach2.Do I need to rinse my washer after using bleach? ›
Let it soak for an hour to remove all traces of mould, soap scum and dirt, before running a hot wash cycle to disinfect the hoses. Run a final rinse cycle to remove all traces of bleach from the drum (you don't want it to stain your clothing).What wash cycle do you add bleach? ›
The liquid bleach is usually dispensed at the beginning of a rinse cycle rather than added with detergent, as with top loaders.When should I add bleach to my wash? ›
For best results, add 5 minutes after the wash cycle has begun to agitate in order to avoid destroying enzymes and fluorescent whiteners in the detergent. For Oxygen Bleach, add directly to the wash water before the clothes are added. Do not pour powdered bleach directly on wet clothes.Should I run a cycle with bleach through my washer? ›
Depending on how bad the buildup is, one cycle to clean your washer using bleach may be enough. In fact, you may need to run several for the problem to be brought completely under control. After that, run a cleanout cycle at least once a month, and at most once a week.Does cold water get rid of bleach? ›
Rinse the area with cold water to remove any excess bleach. Create a thick paste by mixing together some baking soda and water. Spread this over the stain evenly. Leave to dry and then brush off gently – you may want to use an old toothbrush.Should you bleach clothes wet or dry? ›
When you bleach fabric that's wet/damp, you get more of watercolor look. It's not as concentrated, so you can see here that it made some really pretty textures in the fabric.
What temperature is best for bleaching clothes? ›
Experts recommend a water temperature of between 120 and 125 degrees to prevent scalding and for washing on the 'hot' cycle for maximum whitening. You will have to play around with your water temperatures a little bit to find the optimum setting for you, but generally hotter is better for whitening.Is it OK to mix Tide and bleach? ›
(And yes, it's safe to mix bleach and powdered Tide — that's what happens in your laundry sometimes!How much bleach should I add to my laundry? ›
In general, you'll add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of regular liquid bleach to a load. If you have a bleach dispenser, you can add the bleach directly to it by filling up to the provided line. If you don't have a dispenser, add the bleach directly to the water 5 minutes after the wash cycle has started.Is it safe to mix bleach and liquid Tide? ›
Mixing Bleach with Other Cleaning Products Could Produce Hazardous Gases! The key to using bleach safely is to keep it simple. Avoid mixing bleach or bleach-containing products with other cleaning products.What happens if you put too much bleach in the washer? ›
It should always be diluted because it is so strong and concentrated. Used like this, it can actually cause yellowing by either breaking down the fibers or destroying the florescent whitening agents on the fabric of the garment.Does hot water ruin bleach? ›
Procedures of Preparing/Using Diluted Bleach
Cold water should be used for dilution as hot water decomposes the active ingredient of bleach and renders it ineffective.
You can safely bleach cotton, polyester, nylon, acrylic and rayon. Always avoid bleaching wool, silk, mohair, leather or spandex, even a small percentage. Once you confirm that the clothes you want to wash are made of a bleach-safe fiber, then you check if the color is colorfast to bleach.How damaging is a bleach wash? ›
A bleach bath contains bleaching powder and peroxide diluted with shampoo. It is a milder alternative to the bleaching process. Bleaching is an aggressive agent that can harm your hair strands, leaving them weak and brittle. But a bleach bath does not damage your hair as badly and is suitable for all hair types.What clothes should not be bleach? ›
"Any item that includes wool, silk, mohair, leather, or spandex is not safe for chlorine bleach, regardless of the color of the item," she says. Even items with a mix of materials (for example, 97% cotton and 3% spandex) are still a no-go, says Gagliardi.How long do you leave a bleach wash in? ›
There's a misconception that bleach will work better the longer you leave it on. The maximum amount of time you should leave bleach on your hair is 30 minutes. Any longer than that and you run the risk of serious damage, including brittle strands.
How much bleach is too much in laundry? ›
Do not use that much chlorine bleach in any load of white garments. The right amount is closer to ¼ cup. Bleach is an effective product, but potentially dangerous if used incorrectly.How long does a bleach wash last? ›
|Bleach Bath||Regular Bleaching|
|A lower volume of hydrogen peroxide or developer is usually used||Process time can be from 20 to 30 minutes, and not over 45 minutes|
|Process time is between 10 to 30 minutes only, depending on your hair condition and prior color|
Use the right amount of bleach
That's ¾ cup for a regular load, and 1¼ cup for an extra-large or heavily soiled load. Does your washer limit bleach to 1/3 cup? Wash in smaller loads and fill the dispenser to the “max fill” line.
Avoid using chlorine bleach for colored clothing, since it lifts color from fabric and causes fading and white stains on your clothes.Can smelling bleach harm you? ›
Breathing high amounts of chlorine gas can lead to a build-up of fluid in the lungs and severe shortness of breath that could lead to death if untreated. Immediately or within a few hours after breathing chlorine gas, the lungs can become irritated, causing coughing and/or shortness of breath.