Bleach is one of those cleaners that you either love or hate. And some of the fear may stem from not really knowing how to use the stuff. We reached out to Mary Gagliardi (aka Dr. Laundry), who joined Clorox as a scientist in laundry product research and development more than 10 years ago, to clear up some of our bleach concerns. The best way to avoid problems with bleach is to simply read and follow instructions, although there are some other common mistakes, including:
- Not diluting: Gagliardi shares that you should "never put full-strength bleach on a stain — it may seem tempting, but it's a big no-no!" Her suggestion? Presoak stains in a soaking solution of three tablespoons bleach and one gallon water. Or use a bleach gel pen, which lets you target bleaching power directly onto a stain before washing.
- Not measuring: Another mistake is not measuring the bleach when doing laundry. Gagliardi finds, "If you guess and don't use enough, you will miss out on getting the cleanest and whitest laundry." She finds using one half cup for a normal-size load with average soil, or to fill the bleach dispenser to the "max fill" line provides the best whitening.
- No spandex, please: While most white items can be safely bleached, white items made with wool, silk, mohair, leather and spandex don't mix well with bleach. Gagliardi says to "check care labels for a white triangle, which means it's bleach safe. If your white item has even a small percentage of spandex, wash it separately."
Next, we're sharing Dr. Laundry's tips for using bleach around the house — and for getting out tricky stains!