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Can You Wash Colored Clothes With Bleach?

Some colored fabrics can be safely washed with bleach, but how do you know when it’s okay? With our quick and easy test to identify non-fast colors you can bleach colored clothes without ruining them.

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By Mary Gagliardi

Whether or not you can bleach clothes with color depends on the type of dye used and how it was applied. You won’t know just by looking, but by testing a hidden part of the fabric with a bleach and water solution, you can see how washing with Clorox® Bleach will affect the color. It’s easy to do, and takes just a few minutes.

Once you know clothing safe for bleach, then you can add it to a bleach load along with your other bleach-safe clothes.

Check the fiber content

Check the care label to see what the clothing is made of. You can safely bleach cotton, polyester, nylon, acrylic and rayon. Always avoid bleaching wool, silk, mohair, leather or spandex, even a small percentage. Once you confirm that the clothes you want to wash are made of a bleach-safe fiber, then you check if the color is colorfast to bleach.

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Testing for colorfastness to bleach

Use bleach to wash colored laundry with confidence by testing for colorfastness to bleach first.

Use a hidden or less visible part of the clothing for the test, like the inside of the hem or a seam. Testing a hidden area is important so the place where you test doesn’t show if the item isn’t colorfast. 

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What you need

Steps for testing bleach on colored clothes

  1. 1

    Measure the water

    Add ¼ cup water to the measuring cup.

    faucet with water
  2. 2

    Measure the bleach

    Add 2 teaspoons of Clorox® Bleach to the water in the measuring cup. Use the measuring spoon to stir the bleach into the water, then rinse the spoon with clean water.

    measuring spoon with liquid
  3. 3

    Find a hidden area to test

    Turn the clothing inside out so you can easily access the inside of the hem, pocket lining or an inside seam. Testing a hidden area means a negative test result won’t be visible.

  4. 4

    Apply a test drop

    Use the smallest measuring spoon (⅛ or ¼ teaspoon) to apply only a very small drop of the test solution to the fabric. Apply the smallest possible drop so it doesn’t soak through to the outside. Wait 1 minute, then rinse and blot dry.


    If your item has multiple colors, be sure to test each color, one at a time.

  5. 5

    Look for a color change

    If there is no change to the color(s), then you can add the clothing along with the rest of your white laundry to your next bleach load. If there is any change to the color, then it is not color fast to regular bleach and should be washed with Clorox 2® for Colors