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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Removing Stains Caused by Dust Mites

By Dr. Laundry June 2, 2009

Q. I am having trouble removing blood stains from white cotton sheets (400 thread count). I have used Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 and dust mite solution, and stains remain. I have been reading lately in home and style magazines, as well as newspaper articles, that you should add bleach to the final rinse, not with the detergent. Will this help?

A. My best guess is that your use of liquid bleach has “set” the blood, and/or if you combined the Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 and the dust mite product, they reacted and reduced the efficacy of both products resulting in your current incomplete stain removal.

Whenever blood stains are involved, one needs to treat them first, and this done by presoaking in cool water for 30 minutes to 1 hour with a good liquid detergent containing enzymes prior to washing. If they are washed in hot water or liquid bleach or dryer dried, usually incomplete removal results and the resulting chemical/thermal reaction products are now difficult/impossible to remove.

As for adding the bleach later in the cycle: adding the Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 to the rinse is the way that several of the new HE washers are programmed. If you want to do this in a regular toploader, then reduce the amount of Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 from 3/4 cup to 1/2 cup, dilute it in a quart of water, and then pour into the filled rinse cycle as the agitation starts. Remember that the rinse cycle is much shorter than a normal wash cycle, so the bleach will have less time to work.