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How to Use Chlorine Bleach Safely

How to Use Chlorine Bleach Safely

In our last blog, we shared best practices for using oxygen bleach, commonly known as All-Fabric Bleach. However, sometimes you simply need chlorine bleach for the job. For difficult stains, heavy-duty disinfecting, or odors that won’t go away, chlorine bleach may be the best option. However, it is much challenging to use correctly: it must be carefully measured, added at exactly the right time, and handled with caution to get optimal results. Here are seven tips for using chlorine bleach when washing your clothes.

Use the right amount. It is important to add the correct amount of bleach to the wash. Adding too much can not only prevent them from being cleaned properly but also damage your clothes. Clorox recommends using ½ cup of its bleach products, such as its Splash-less Bleach, in a full wash. However, depending on the brand, the type of bleach you use, and the size of the wash, the amount of bleach needed may vary. Always read the directions on the container to be sure.  

Add bleach at the right time. To get the best results, you should first add detergent to the water, put in the clothes, and run the wash for five minutes. Then add bleach. This will give you the best outcome because adding bleach too early can lower the effectiveness of the detergent. To ensure you don’t forget after starting the wash, set a timer on your phone. However, if you would prefer not to risk forgetting to add bleach (or adding it too late in the process), you can add it right after you add detergent, before putting any clothes in the water. Let it run for 10-15 seconds to ensure the bleach is mixed thoroughly into the water.

Handle with care. Bleach is an extremely strong chemical and can damage your skin if not removed quickly. If you get bleach on your hands while pouring or measuring, stop what you are doing and wash it off with soap right away—don’t wait until you’ve finished getting the load ready to take care of it. Additionally, make sure it is kept and handled in a well-ventilated area. Always close the bottle firmly whenever you are not actively pouring from it. A buildup of chlorine bleach fumes can also cause health problems.

Never mix with other bleach. Never mix chlorine bleach with all-fabric bleach or other household cleaners. This can cause a chemical reaction resulting in a deadly odorless gas. The only thing you should add to a wash along with bleach is detergent—and, of course, your clothes.

Only use it on sturdy clothes. Since it is a stronger chemical, chlorine bleach can damage delicate fabric such as silk. Use it on sturdier material, such as cotton towels and t-shirts. If you are unsure whether a piece of clothing is sturdy enough to stand up to bleach, check the label. Garments that cannot handle bleach will be clearly marked with “Do not bleach” on the washing instructions tag.

Spot test clothes before washing them in bleach. If it is your first time washing an article of clothing with bleach, it is important to make sure the material will not react poorly to the chemical. Synthetic fabrics are particularly prone to damage: white polyester turns yellow when bleached. 

Never apply bleach directly to a garment, however—remember that you dilute it in the wash, so you should do the same for the test. Mix a teaspoon of bleach in two teaspoons of warm water. Then use a cotton swab dipped in the solution to dab an out-of-sight area of the garment, such as an interior pocket or inside seam. Wait for the spot to dry completely. If the color changes at all, or if the color comes off onto the cotton swab, then you should not bleach the garment, as it will come out discolored. You will have to use another method of removing the stain or odor. 

Use a professional. From years of experience, cleaning professionals are skilled in using bleach to get the best results whitening clothes, removing stains, or getting rid of persistent odors. Just let them know the outcome you would like for your clothes when you drop them off, and they can take care of the rest. For additional convenience, you can inquire about pick-up and drop-off services so you can spend less time handling bleach and have more time for things you enjoy.

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