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What Is Color Safe Bleach and How to Use It

Color clothes soak before washing.

Color Safe Bleach is a non-chlorine bleach that contains peroxide. Use it to remove stains and brighten garments with colors that can’t be washed with Regular Bleach.

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By Mary Gagliardi

Brief history of bleach

Laundry bleach chemistry has evolved over time, and, understandably, the different names for laundry products can be confusing. First there was sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl), the bleach that is sometimes referred to as “chlorine bleach” (even though the bleach active is hypochlorite (OCL), and there’s no free chlorine in a bottle of regular bleach).

Next came “non-chlorine” bleach, which tells you what it’s not, but doesn’t tell you much about what it is: hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) bleach that is safe for nearly all machine washable colored fabric. That’s why non-chlorine bleach is commonly called “Color Safe Bleach” or “Bleach for Colors.”

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General rule for colorfastness

If you can machine wash a colored item with detergent, then you can also wash it with detergent and Clorox2®. If the care label says “Do Not Bleach,” you can easily test for colorfastness to liquid Clorox 2®:

Apply a drop of Cloro x2® to a hidden part of the item (be sure to test all colors). Wait 5 minutes, then rinse with water. Allow the item to dry completely and check for a color change. No loss of color means the item can be safely laundered with Clorox 2®.

chlorine test strips

Great for spandex

Color Safe Bleach is also safe for items with spandex, which can never be treated with sodium hypochlorite. This makes Color Safe Bleach a great choice for keeping white items with spandex clean, bright and white.

Three product forms

Clorox 2® for Colors, our Color Safe Bleach, comes in three forms: liquid, powder and pack. Each has unique benefits consumers like, depending on their laundry habits.

  • Liquid Clorox 2® for Colors can be added to the wash cycle, used to pretreat stains directly on fabric and used as a presoak for larger stains.
  • Powdered Clorox 2® for Colors can be added to the wash cycle, and also used as a laundry presoak.
  • Clorox 2® for Colors Packs are for use in the wash cycle only. No measuring, easy and convenient, perfect for washers without dispensers that lock the washer door once the cycle starts.

How to use in a standard washer

To use Clorox 2® in a standard washer, add it to the washer along with your favorite detergent as the washer fills with water, before the clothes are added. You can also add it along with the detergent using the detergent dispenser if your clothes washer has one.

Some washers even have a special dispenser compartment just for color-safe bleaches. Check your washer’s Use and Care Guide for more specific instructions.

washing machine dispenser

How to use in a high-efficiency washer

To use Clorox 2® for Colors in a high-efficiency washer, use the detergent dispenser to add the laundry detergent and the color safe bleach together in the same compartment. Always match the product forms: use liquid color safe bleach with liquid detergent, and powdered color safe bleach with powdered detergent.

Clorox 2® Packs are added to the washer basket before you add the laundry and start the washer.

Pretreating and presoaking

To remove tough stains, Liquid Clorox 2® for Colors can be used to pretreat or presoak stains before washing. Or you can presoak with Clorox 2® for Colors Powder. Pretreating and presoaking will help you get the best cleaning performance when washing items with tough stains in a high-efficiency clothes washer.

Tip

When using liquid Clorox 2® to pretreat, don’t let the product dry out on the fabric. Limit pretreating time to no more than 10 minutes before rinsing or machine washing.

Gather your supplies

How to pretreat with liquid Clorox 2®

  1. 1

    Apply full strength Clorox 2® liquid directly to the stain

    Use the cap to apply a small amount of product, then gently rub in.

    clorox 2 liquid pouring from bottle
  2. 2

    Wait 5–10 minutes

    Set a timer so you don’t lose track of the time; don’t let the product dry out on the fabric.

    timer
  3. 3

    Machine wash

    Use your regular detergent as usual and add a little more Clorox 2®.

    washing machine start button
  4. 4

    Air dry

    Any time you’re working on removing a stain, keep the item out of a hot dryer until you know the stain is gone. You can always repeat the treatment if you missed pretreating any stain, and get it all the way out.

    open window with curtains

How to presoak with Clorox 2® powder

  1. 1

    Mix the soaking solution

    Add 2 gallons of hot water to a plastic dishpan, then add 1 scoop of Clorox 2® for Colors Powder. Use the plastic spoon to stir the powder into the water until it dissolves.

    clorox 2 powder in bottle
  2. 2

    Fully submerge the item in the solution

    Items with color can soak for up to 1 hour. White items can soak for up to 8 hours or overnight.

    peron soaking something in a bucket
  3. 3

    Drain the soaking solution

    When the soak time is complete, pour off the soaking solution.

    water pouring down drain
  4. 4

    Machine Wash

    Use your regular detergent as usual and add a little more Clorox 2®.

    washing machine start button
  5. 5

    Air dry

    Any time you’re working on removing a stain, keep the item out of a hot dryer until you know the stain is gone. You can always repeat the treatment if you missed pretreating any stain, and get it all the way out.

    open window with curtains

Frequently asked questions

Does color safe bleach sanitize laundry?

Only EPA-registered products are allowed to make germ kill claims. Clorox 2® Bleach for Colors is not EPA-registered as a laundry sanitizer. To sanitize colored laundry, try Clorox® Fabric Sanitizer.

Is Clorox® Bleach color safe?

Because only a small number of colored items can be safely washed with sodium hypochlorite-based bleaches like Clorox® Bleach these products are not labeled color safe. Test items with color to confirm colorfastness before washing with regular bleach.

Is Clorox® Splash-Less® Bleach color safe?

Splash-Less® Bleach is made with sodium hypochlorite, and can sometimes be used to wash items with color, but you need to test them first to make sure they’re colorfast to sodium hypochlorite bleach.

Is color safe bleach a non-chlorine bleach?

Color safe bleaches like Clorox 2® for Colors do not contain any chlorine. They are safe for nearly all machine washable fabrics.

Is color safe bleach safe for spandex?

Color safe bleaches like Clorox 2® for Colors are absolutely safe for spandex.