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Using Bleach for the First Time

By Dr. Laundry September 30, 2013

I am new to using bleach as it makes me really nervous. If anything in the laundry is off-white or colored, is it still OK to use bleach?


People are often surprised to learn that many colored items can be safely laundered with Clorox® Regular-Bleach when used as directed. First note, that you should never bleach items made with wool, silk, mohair, leather, or spandex. I have tan sheets and heather gray t-shirts that always go in the bleach load; you just have to test your colored or off-white items using the bleachability test to make sure they can be bleached. To do this, add 1 ½ teaspoons Clorox® Regular-Bleach to ¼ cup water and mix. Apply a drop of this solution to a hidden part of the item you want to check. Wait one minute, then blot dry. Look for a color change—if you don’t see one, the item can be safely laundered with bleach.

And since you are new to using bleach, here are a few other things to remember. Clorox Regular-Bleach should always be diluted when used—it should never be used full strength. If your clothes washer has a bleach dispenser, then the machine is doing the diluting for you. If not, then there are two easy ways to add bleach:
1. Add the bleach along with your detergent when the washer is filling with water, before you add the laundry.
2. For best results, add the bleach to 1 quart of water and add it to the washer 5 minutes after the wash cycle has begun.

Don’t be tempted to pretreat a stain with a few drops of straight bleach! Instead, pretreat white bleachable fabrics with Clorox® Bleach Pen Gel, which is specially formulated with a lower level of sodium hypochlorite (the same bleach active as our regular-bleach) that is safe to apply directly to a stain. Also, be sure you are using the correct amount of bleach. That’s ½ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach for a regular load, and up to 1 cup for an extra-large or heavily soiled load.