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Tips That Will Help You Get The Best Benefits From Bleach

By Dr. Laundry October 29, 2015

Q: Clorox bleach turned some of my white clothes yellow. Is there a way to revert them back to white?   A: There are so many good reasons to add Clorox® Regular-Bleach to a load of bleachable whites:  sanitization, and better cleaning and whitening than you would get with just detergent by itself, just to name a few.  However, you do need to use the product as directed, otherwise you can end up unhappy with the results, as you have found.  I wish I had better news for you, but unfortunately yellowing from using bleach incorrectly is not reversible.  That said, here are some tips that will help you get all the good benefits out of bleach in the future. 1.  Be sure you only wash bleachable fabrics in your bleach load. This would include items made from cotton, polyester, nylon, and acrylic. 2.  Watch out for fiber types that are not safe for bleach–you should never bleach textiles made with wool, silk, mohair, leather, and spandex.  Even a small amount of spandex blended with cotton can yellow when washed with bleach.  Clorox2® Stain Remover and Color Booster is a great product for cotton/spandex items. 3.  Always use the recommended amount of bleach.  We recommend ½ cup for a regular size load with an average soil level, and up to 1 cup for an extra-large or heavily soiled load.  Using too much (either extremely concentrated bleach solutions or undiluted bleach straight out of the bottle) can cause yellowing. 4.  For best results in a standard washer, dilute the bleach in 1 quart of water and add it to the washer 5 minutes after the load has been agitating.  You can also add bleach along with the detergent to the washer as the machine is filling with water, before you have added the clothes.  And of course use the bleach dispenser if your machine has one. 5.  Know your water quality.  If your household water supply has a high level of water hardness or contains large amounts of metals (like iron and manganese), it’s a good idea to install a water filtration system to improve the water quality.  You won’t need to add extra detergent and you won’t get fabric discoloration from the metals. Not knowing enough about your items that yellowed, I can’t say for sure what caused the yellowing, but spandex is probably the most likely culprit.  Personally, I do a separate load of white items that contain spandex along with blue and white items and I always add Clorox2® (the pack form is super convenient) and I get great results.  Please let me know if you have any other questions, and thanks for writing. –Dr. Laundry