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How to Know If You Can Bleach Something

Can I Bleach This?

We partnered with Clorox® to help you finally understand what you can (and can't!) bleach.

Bleach: it's a bit of a mystery, even for those of us who have been doing our own laundry for some time now. Do you need to dilute it first or can you just pour it into the washing machine? Does it only work on totally white items and will it discolor anything else? What fabrics should I actually use it on?

We want you to be confident every time you pull out your trusty jug of Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach With Cloromax®. So keep reading to become a better, more educated laundry wizard for all your future loads — and learn what you can, and shouldn't, be using bleach on.


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You pretty much can't go wrong with anything white that's made out of cotton. Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach With Cloromax® can be safely used as directed on a variety of other fabrics as well, like polyester, cotton/poly blends, acrylic, and nylon. However, you always want to check the tag to make sure it's bleach-safe before taking the plunge, and you can always do a bleachability test. Mix 1 ½ teaspoons of Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach With Cloromax® into ¼ cup water and mix, then dab onto an inconspicuous place to make sure nothing wonky happens. Once you know you're good to go, there are a few things to keep in mind when adding bleach to your laundry.

First, remember that bleach performs best when combined with heat, so if your clothes are OK to withstand the high setting on your washer, take advantage. If, however, your clothes need to be washed in cold, no need to worry — Clorox® Bleach is still effective on the cold setting.

Second, take a look at your washer — it might have a special compartment to add bleach. If it does, no need to dilute here since the machine does it for you. If you don’t have a bleach compartment, for a standard machine add 1/2 cup of bleach to the wash water after you add detergent but before adding your clothes.

If you decide to handwash with bleach, use a diluted solution, wear gloves, and make sure your clothes are thoroughly rinsed before drying.


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You should never bleach items made with wool, silk, mohair, leather, or spandex — period. Also, some of your clothes might be dyed with "nonfast colors," meaning the color will run or be discolored if you use bleach. Thankfully, you can quickly and easily test to see if your item is colorfast. Dampen a white cloth and rub it along the interior seam or hem — if any color comes off, the item isn't colorfast and you shouldn't use bleach.


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One of the main reasons to use bleach isn't necessarily for its whitening powers — it's also powerful in sanitization. Meaning, it's great to use on something like cotton sheets, which can house all sorts of germs that we track in our beds from the outside world. To successfully sanitize and kill 99.9 percent of bacteria*, do a hot-water wash with detergent and ¾ cup Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach With Cloromax® using the same process outlined above (start the wash, add detergent, then bleach, and then your clothes).

While linen is usually a bleach-safe fabric, always check the label to see if your item is "dry clean only," in which case, follow those guidelines. Don't use undiluted bleach on your sheets, since adding straight bleach to linen can damage and weaken the fibers.

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Surprise! Lots of colored items are actually totally safe to be laundered with bleach. It all depends on the type of dye was used and how it was applied — so your best bet is to do a bleachability test before tossing it in the wash. You could even dilute the bleach a little more than you would with whites if you're a bit nervous. However, if your item is made from one of the bleach-safe fabrics and a neutral color like heather gray or beige, you're good to go.

*Use as directed.

Designer: Mia Coleman