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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Colored Loads in a HE Washer

By Dr. Laundry January 6, 2011

Q. I have read about chlorine bleach in a HE washer. But what about bleach for colored clothes? Is it safe and is there a special way of using it?

A. For colored loads in a HE washer, I recommend Clorox2 Stain Remover and Color Booster. It contains color-safe bleach, along with cleaning agents and brighteners, and is used with detergent to safely get clothes cleaner than you would with detergent alone. It comes in 3 forms: liquid (also great for pre-treating stains like red wine and ink), powder (which also has enzymes to work better on stains like grass) and packs (pre-measured in a pack that completely dissolves when added to the washer). I rely on Clorox2® to keep all my colored items clean and bright in my HE washer, which I’ve had for 14 years! Here are some tips for using it:

1. Usually, color-safe bleaches need to share the detergent dispenser in an HE washer. Therefore, when adding products to a HE machine dispenser, be sure the product forms match, i.e. use liquid Clorox2® Stain Remover and Color Booster with a liquid detergent and powdered Clorox2® with a powdered detergent. This is important so the products will be thoroughly flushed into the machine.
2. Always be sure to use a HE detergent specifically formulated for HE machines.
3. If you are pre-treating, measure liquid Clorox2® into the drain-back cap and then apply the product to any stains. Remaining product in the cap can then be added to the dispenser. This helps ensure you add the right amount of product to the load.
4. Try the packs—they dissolve quickly and completely, so add them directly to the washer drum with the clothes before you start the load. This also means it doesn’t matter whether you use a liquid or powdered detergent since they don’t get combined in the dispenser.
5. Use the powder or packs for pre-soaking. Dissolve 1 scoop or 1 pack in 1-2 gallons of hot water and then add the item you want to soak. Depending on how dirty the item is, soak it for up to 8 hours or overnight. Then add the item to your washer and wash in detergent and Clorox2® Stain Remover and Color Booster. I am able to clean pretty heavily soiled items and get really good results by pre-soaking; setting up an item to soak at the end of the day and then adding it to a load first thing in the morning is very efficient.