How to use bleach when doing laundry

Bleach has many uses around the house, but it is most notably known for its use in the laundry room. If you’re unfamiliar with how to use bleach in your laundry, you could easily ruin your clothes.

To help you make the most of using bleach with your laundry, and get your whites sparkling without damaging them, here’s everything you need to know. 

Precautionary measures when using bleach

Always be careful when handling bleach of any kind, in any concentration. Generally speaking, bleach is hazardous and can cause serious injury when not handled properly.

Bleach can smell very strong, so make sure you aren’t smelling the vapors and stay in a ventilated area. You may prefer to get the best smelling laundry detergent to make sure the smell doesn’t remain in the clothes. 

Of course, there’s more. You can’t use bleach on all fabrics, and you generally should only use bleach on whites. Can you use bleach on colored fabrics? Sometimes, yes. We’ll get into that later, when we go over the different types of bleach available on the market today.

Keep bleach away from your eyes, nose and mouth. Handle it carefully, and avoid touching it undiluted with your bare hands.

What is the purpose of bleach?

Many people mistakenly believe that bleach can be used to “clean” clothes. However, it’s important to make the distinction between cleaning and disinfection. If your clothes are visibly soiled—that means you can actually see dirt on your clothes, then bleach won’t help you in any way. 

Bleach is meant to kill microorganisms—that’s disinfection. The main distinctive feature of bleach is that it is able to remove color from fabric. That is, it can ‘bleach’ fabrics. In other words, it will kill the bacteria and other microorganisms but it will not clean away the dirt, oil, or stains carrying the microorganisms.

Note that bleach is a term used for a number of different chemicals.The most common is household bleach, which is a solution of sodium hypochlorite (Chlorine bleach). 

Using bleach when doing your laundry

The main reason people use bleach when doing laundry is to get brighter whites, or to remove stains. Here are a few tips:

  • Always read the care label on your clothes. Some fabrics don’t do well when bleach is applied to them. Seriously—they just dissolve. 
  • Never use chlorine bleach undiluted on your clothes.
  • For colored garments, use non-chlorinated bleaches. Always read the label carefully to ensure that the product can be used on colors.

Getting brighter whites

The most common use for chlorine bleach in the laundry room is to get brighter whites. Keep in mind that if your garment is mainly white and has a colored portion, the dye will fade from the colored area. 

Generally, you should run your washing machine on the hottest setting (make sure the fabric can handle that temperature), and add anywhere between a half cup to three fourths of a cup of chlorine bleach to the appropriate dispenser in your machine. Then, run the machine as you would normally. 

Removing stains

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that undiluted bleach can be used to remove a stain by pouring it directly onto the stain. As we mentioned before, never use undiluted bleach on your clothes.

To effectively remove stains, you need to prepare a weak solution of chlorine bleach by diluting it with plain water. For smaller stains, dab the solution onto the stained area using a white cloth. You may need to repeat the dabbing process several times.

If the stain is large, and there are no other colors on the fabric, then you might consider soaking the garment in the solution for a few hours. Once you’ve applied the bleach (either by dabbing or soaking), wash the garment as usual.