How to clean your clothes without a catastrophe

When someone mentions laundering with bleach, what images does it conjure up? Making cotton shirts bright white? Delivering socks from dinginess? Or getting bleach stains on your favorite pants?

If you use bleach the right way, and with an abundance of caution, it can be a miracle worker in your laundry room. Don’t believe it? Keep reading.

Choosing the right bleach

There are two types of liquid bleach for laundry use: chlorine bleach, and non-chlorine bleach, also known as oxygen bleach or color-safe bleach. Chlorine bleach is great at removing stains and odors on white clothing, but can wreak havoc on colored fabrics by leaving faded splotches or even burning holes. It also has incredible sanitizing power.

Non-chlorine bleach, however, is typically used to clean and brighten colored or patterned clothing. Just check the care labels to make sure it’s acceptable to use on your clothing. Even then, you’ll want to test it on a hidden part of the fabric for colorfastness.

Chlorine bleach: Tips for using this stain-busting star

Nothing can obliterate stains and other discoloration on white clothing like old-fashioned chlorine bleach. Since it sanitizes, it also works well for removing mildew stains and odors. Here’s how to use chlorine bleach in your laundry to brighten your whites:

  1. Check the garment’s care label to make sure you can safely use chlorine bleach.
  2. Run your washing machine at the highest temperature setting the clothing will allow.
  3. Add your usual laundry detergent.
  4. Add 3/4 cup liquid chlorine bleach to your washer’s bleach dispenser.
  5. Wash as usual.

If you are using bleach for removing stains, follow these steps:

  1. Dilute a little bleach in a lot of water to create a weak bleach solution.
  2. For spot stain removal, dip a clean, white cloth in the bleach solution and blot the stain.
  3. For larger stains, soak your garment in the bleach solution.
  4. Repeat until the stain is gone.

However, because of the chemical nature of chlorine bleach, there are a few things to consider when using it.

  • Never apply chlorine bleach directly to fabrics. Always dilute it with water before using as it could cause irreparable harm to your clothes.
  • Never use bleach on wool or fabrics that contain a wool blend. The chemicals will cause serious damage and likely forever ruin your garment.

Non-chlorinated bleach: The colored clothing companion

To keep your colored clothes brilliantly beautiful, use color-safe, non-chlorinated oxygen bleach. While similar to chlorine bleach, non-chlorinated bleach works a little slower because of the different chemicals used. Don’t add more to make it work faster, as it can ruin your clothing. Also, never use non-chlorinated bleach on silk, acetate, wool, spandex, polypropylene and some flame-retardant fabrics.

Before adding non-chlorinated bleach in your washer, always check the care labels on your clothes to make sure it’s safe to use. Simply add the bleach to your washer’s bleach dispenser following the instructions on the bottle. If your washer doesn’t have a bleach dispenser, just pour 3/4 cup of bleach in after the tub has finished filling.

For stain removal, follow these tips:

  • To remove spot stains, dilute the non-chlorinated bleach. Just like chlorine bleach, it’s too strong for direct contact with fabric.
  • For an entire garment, make a weak solution of bleach and water and soak your items overnight. Wash as usual the next day, adding 1/2 cup vinegar to the load for extra color brightening power.

With these tips, you are sure to whiten and brighten your clothes with ease!