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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

“Do not bleach” care label on a white cotton towel

By Dr. Laundry August 24, 2012

I just bought new white towels that are a Micro Cotton style. The care label says do not bleach. Can they be bleached anyway?

You can absolutely bleach your white Micro Cotton towels with Clorox® Regular-Bleach. If a brand of 100% cotton towels say “Do Not Bleach” for every color, it is likely a way for the towel manufacturer to save money by using the same conservative care label on all of the towels in the product line, regardless of the towel’s colorfastness to either chlorine or oxygen bleach. It’s too bad; this “low-labeling” practice doesn’t provide consumers with readily accessible accurate information to help them care for their textiles, the whole purpose of care labels! Anytime you have an item you aren’t sure can be safely bleached, you should do a quick bleachability test: add 2 tsp liquid Clorox® Regular-Bleach to ¼ cup water; apply a drop on a hidden section area like inside seam, hemline or cuff; wait 1 minute and then blot dry. No color change means it is safe to use bleach on the item.