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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Using Bleach with Detergents Containing Hydrogen Peroxide

By Dr. Laundry February 12, 2009

Q. I’m using Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 containing sodium hypochlorite and a detergent for whites containing hydrogen peroxide. I have heard that hydrogen peroxide and sodium hypochlorite react with each other, and that it’s best to choose one and not to use both together. So what do you recommend about the washing process? If your suggestion is that I use a detergent not containing sodium hypochlorite, will using the detergent for colorful fabrics be enough to remove the soils?

A. I’m glad to hear you are now using the Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 to whiten and disinfect the laundry. You are correct that the Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 and hydrogen peroxide react in the wash solution. The sodium hypochlorite is the stronger oxidant, so it creates oxygen and water from the peroxide. You did not specify, but I assume it is a powdered detergent (the liquid versions can not contain hydrogen peroxide, as it would react with the enzymes and cut cleaning performance even further).

So, my preferred laundry process for you would be:

  • Use a powder detergent since it is a better cleaner than a liquid version. It is not necessary for it to contain the oxygen bleach, as this is such a small amount. You could replace this version with the regular version for all your laundry needs (plus you’ll save some money since there are fewer uses for the detergent with bleach than the regular version).
  • Continue to use the Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 for the white clothes. Add the recommended amount to the dispenser.
  • It is NOT necessary to rinse the items since you will be washing them in detergent and Clorox® Regular-Bleach1.