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How to Wash and Disinfect Underwear With Bleach

White underwear can become yellow and dingy. Learn how to wash, disinfect, and whiten underwear to clean and remove underwear stains without ruining the fabric.

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Will ⅓ cup Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach damage the elastic in my cotton briefs?  After several washes the white cotton starts turning yellow.  How much Clorox should be used in an average white wash?


We’ve looked into the effects of bleach usage on fabric over time and found that even after 50 wash/dry cycles, Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach does not wear down fabric any more than using detergent alone, when used as directed.  As for the amount of bleach to use, we recommend three addition methods for normally soiled loads in standard washers:

Option 1. Add ⅓ cup Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach (or fill the dispenser to the max fill line if you have a HE washer) using the washer’s bleach dispenser.

Option 2. Add ⅓ cup Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach along with the detergent to the wash water as the machine is filling, before the clothes are added.

Option 3. Dilute ⅓ cup Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach in 1 quart water and add to the wash 5 minutes after the wash cycle has begun.

This is for normal size loads with an average soil level. If you have an extra large load of heavily soiled laundry, you could increase bleach usage up to ⅔ cup. When the fabric is yellowing, then you are probably using too much bleach.  If it’s just the elastic, then it might have a chlorine retentive component that is yellowing (most elastics can be safely bleached).   Underwear, especially white underwear, should be bleachable to ensure good cleaning and disinfecting.  As long as the yellowing on your briefs is not a permanent shift in the color of the cotton (typical with undiluted or too concentrated bleach contact) you might be able to reverse it with RIT Color Remover, which you can find at drug stores.

For presoak laundry disinfection, read the article here.