Skip to content
Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Is Non-Chlorine Bleach Really Necessary for this White/Black Garment?

By Dr. Laundry April 20, 2017

Q. My daughter has a shirt (100% cotton/100% Algodon..as the label reads). The shirt is mostly white but has a black logo. I can’t iron the small black trim and white small skirt going around the edge of the shirt (see picture).

The label says to wash inside out and to use only non-chlorine beach when needed. My question: Is the “non-chlorine” bleach really necessary?

—Stephanie

A. Hi Stephanie;

Thanks for sending a picture — what a cute shirt! It looks like the black flowers on the little ruffle skirt are printed onto the fabric, and the black embroidery thread is probably polyester or nylon, and shouldn’t run or bleed onto the fabric when you wash it. This makes for a pretty easy-to-care-for garment, which of course I love. And you ask a great question: Is as-needed non-chlorine bleach really necessary? If I were going to try to keep this shirt looking as new as possible for as long as possible (at least until my daughter would grow out of it!) here’s what I would do.

  1. Sort the shirt into a lightly colored load. Other items in this load would be other mostly white items with just a little color and any white items with spandex such as camisoles. You could also add light blue pastels and light tan items, but I would avoid anything darker than that.
  2. Select hot or warm water for maximum cleaning. The shirt may say machine wash cold, but I would go with warm or hot because it’s worth it for better cleaning. If you have a front loading washer that uses only a small amount of water, chances are even if you select a hot cycle you’ll end up with warm water in the drum because the washer and the clothing cools down the incoming water quite a bit, especially in winter. If you are curious about this, you can always stop the washer after the water has finished adding and check to see how warm it is (or isn’t)!
  3. Add Clorox 2® Stain Remover & Color Booster along with your favorite detergent to boost cleaning and whitening and get the shirt as white as possible. White fabrics that can’t go in a regular bleach load absolutely need this to prevent them from getting dingy over time.
  4. Hang the shirt to dry. This will definitely preserve the black portions of the shirt, especially where the color is printed on. Dryer heat is very hot and definitely accelerates fading!

It’s really helpful that you sent the picture, too. It looks like there’s a grape juice stain near the embroidered “y,” and down along the hem. This type of stain would benefit from being pretreated before washing with a little liquid Clorox 2®.

If you have a front loading washer, pretreating is critical for stain removal success because of the way the garments tumble through the wash solution. Liquid Clorox 2® is super convenient for pretreating, and because the formula includes cleaning agents, brighteners and color-safe hydrogen peroxide, it’s very effective, too. All you have to do is pour a little product into the cap (always measure) to line 1 and then use that to pretreat. Add whatever is left to the detergent dispenser along with your favorite liquid detergent (or use it to pretreat other items, including shirt collars).

So to answer your question, “Is non-chlorine bleach really necessary?” I would say absolutely! Please let me know if you have any other questions, and thanks for writing!

—Dr. Laundry