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How to Resolve a Well Water, Bleach, and Iron Reaction

Having trouble with bleach and well water? Find out what to do if you use well water and your clothes are colored after washing in bleach from an iron reaction.

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I have well water and know there is iron in it. So, when I bleach my whites, they turn yellowish. What can I use, either with bleach to prevent this, or instead of bleach? I have a brand new HE front loading washer.


Well water with very high iron and sodium hypochlorite bleach are just not very compatible. The bleach active reacts with the iron and changes it to the chemical form as rust. This new yellow/red discoloration then deposits on clothes, causing discoloration.

Installing a water treatment system may be your best long-term solution. By removing iron and other impurities from the well water, you’ll be able to regularly use Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach in your laundry and throughout your home (like cleaning toilets or getting rid of mold in the shower).

In the mean time you can try our colorsafe bleach, Clorox 2® For Colors Stain Remover and Laundry Additive, which is based on hydrogen peroxide and is not strong enough to convert the iron to rust. You add this along with the detergent at the beginning of the wash. There’s more detail here if you aren’t familiar with the product.

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