How To Use Bleach in the Laundry

Using laundry detergent

Bleach can be very helpful at removing soil and stains from your laundry, or making your white clothes even brighter. However, it can be harsh, and may even damage some of your clothes. Here’s how to use bleach in the laundry so that you will not harm your clothes:

  1. Choose the right kind of bleach. There are two types of bleach: chlorine bleach, or oxygen bleach. Chlorine bleach is very concentrated. It comes in either liquid or dry form; both need to be diluted before adding to your laundry. It is usually used only for white clothing, while oxygen bleach is safe for most colored clothing.
  2. Read your clothing labels. Bleach should not be used in every load of laundry; it may need to be skipped depending on what you are washing. Chlorine bleach is especially likely to harm your clothes. On the other hand, oxygen bleach is usually safe for most fabrics and colors, unless your clothing label says otherwise. Also pay attention to the listed content of your clothing; some fabrics should not be bleached. Still, you may want to test the garment before using bleach on it. If in doubt, skip the bleach.
  3. Understand when to skip the bleach. Bleach should not be used full-strength, and it should not be used on silk, acetate, wool, spandex, polypropylene foam, or rubber. Some flame retardant fabrics should also not be bleached, and bleach can weaken cotton or linen clothing. Repeated bleaching can cause the fabric to yellow. Do not use it if you are also using a product containing ammonia; the fumes from this mixture are very toxic.
  4. Add to laundry. Bleach should not be placed directly on the fabric, and it is not appropriate as a spot treatment for stain removal. It should be used with, not instead of, detergent in the laundry. Bleach works by loosening dirt so that it can be removed by the detergent. Pour the bleach into the washer water, mix it well, and then add your clothes. Some washers also have a separate bleach dispenser, near where you pour the detergent. Undiluted bleach should never come into direct contact with clothing. Read the package to determine how much bleach to add to each load of laundry.

Bleach can be very helpful when trying to whiten dirty clothes or get out tough stains, especially dirt or grass stains covering large areas of the clothing. You can also use bleach in the laundry to make your white clothing brighter and less dingy.


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