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How to Bleach White Clothes

Clorox has built its reputation on helping people keep white clothes as white as possible. If you’ve noticed that your white clothing isn’t looking as vibrant as they once were, keep reading.

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If your white clothes tend to turn slightly off-white or yellowish over time, standard bleach in your wash may not do the trick. Here are a few possible issues that you may need to address

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  1. 1

    Choosing a detergent

    Make sure you’re using a good detergent that contains brighteners and enzymes in addition to surfactants and builders. 

    Tip

    The better detergents will often list the purpose of active ingredients.

  2. 2

    Use the right amount of detergent

    Underutilizing laundry detergent will result in poor performance, especially if you have heavily soiled shirts, do extra-large loads, or use hard water. Try adding a little extra detergent.

  3. 3

    Dial up the temperature

    Choose a hot wash temperature on your machine. The higher the wash temperature, the better the cleaning.

    hot setting on washing machine
  4. 4

    Properly load your washer

    Clothes need to circulate/tumble freely through the wash water for optimum cleaning.

    loading sheets into a washing machine
  5. 5

    Use the right amount of bleach

    That’s ¾ cup for a regular load, and 1¼ cup for an extra-large or heavily soiled load.

    Tip

    Does your washer limit bleach to 1/3 cup? Wash in smaller loads and fill the dispenser to the “max fill” line.

    bleach pouring from bottle

Gather your supplies

Steps to whiten white cotton clothes

If your clothing doesn’t contain any spandex, here’s how we recommend using bleach to brighten them up.

  1. 1

    Soak your clothing

    Soak clothes in a solution of ¼ cup Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach per gallon of water. Fully submerge for 5 minutes.

  2. 2

    Machine wash in hot water

    Wash in hot water using detergent and 1/3 cup bleach (or fill the dispenser to the max-fill line) to remove dingy yellow buildup.

    hot setting on washing machine
  3. Steps to whiten white clothes with spandex

    If your white clothing contains any spandex, you’ll want to use Clorox 2® for Colors 3-in-1 Liquid instead of regular bleach.

    1. 1

      Pre-soak your clothing

      Mix 1 cup of Clorox 2® for Colors to 2 gallons of hot water, and submerge clothing. You can soak up to 1 hour with liquid Clorox 2®, or 8 hours when using the powder.

    2. 2

      Rinse and wash in hot water

      Pour off the soaking solution, then machine wash in hot water using detergent and additional Clorox 2®

      hot setting on washing machine
    3. Frequently asked questions

      Can bleach discolor my clothes?

      There are a few situations when using Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach can discolor white fabrics. If a fabric or a fabric’s finish isn’t bleach-safe, bleach can cause damage and yellowing. Even cotton can yellow if exposed to undiluted or extremely concentrated bleach solutions. Additionally, household water supplies can contain high levels of metal that react with bleach and discolor clothing.