Liquid bleach for laundry comes in two varieties: chlorine bleach and non-chlorine bleach, also known as oxygen bleach or color-safe bleach. Chlorine bleach is extremely effective at removing stains and odors from white clothing.
Can Chlorine Bleach Clothes?
One of the most common water solutions used in the laundry is chlorine bleach. Chlorine is also well-known for disinfecting laundry and removing odors from washing machines. It’s typically used to whiten and remove stains from clothing.
With the increase in sales of high-efficiency washers that use less water to flush away soil, sales of chlorine bleach to disinfect washers and help remove foul odors from front-load washers have also increased.
Despite all of its advantages, there are a number of precautions to take if you want the best chlorine laundry results.
Always test your items before bleaching them
Before using chlorine bleach on a garment, test it to see how it will react to the bleach. This is especially important for clothing made of polyester, nylon, or any other synthetic fiber.
To begin, combine one teaspoon of bleach and two teaspoons of warm water. Choose an inconspicuous location on the garment, such as an inside seam or an interior pocket made of the same fabric.
Dab the fabric with a cotton swab dipped in the bleach and water solution. Allow the area to dry completely before proceeding. Do not use chlorine bleach on this fabric if you notice a change in color or a transfer of color to the swab. It is not dye or colorfast.
Never combine bleaches or bleach and ammonia
Never combine chlorine bleach with oxygen bleach (often called all-fabric or color-safe bleach). You have the potential to cause a chemical reaction that is harmful to your clothing and, more importantly, your lungs.
The most serious issue arises when chlorine bleach and household ammonia are combined. The two combine to form a toxic mixture of chloramine vapors and liquid hydrazine. Both cause respiratory problems and have the potential to be fatal.
Dilute to Get the Best Results
Even if you want a bleached outlook, never pour chlorine bleach directly on clothing. It can weaken fibers, eat holes in the fabric, and remove a large amount of color. Instead, before adding it to any washer drum or soaking tub, mix one cup of bleach in one quart of warm water. Fill the drum halfway with water before adding the dirty laundry.
If you use a washer with an automatic dispenser, the bleach will be added to the washer tub after it has been filled with water. This dilutes the bleach automatically, protecting your fabrics.
How to Choose the Right Type of Bleach?
Bleach is not suitable for all fabrics. There are certain synthetic fabrics and some others like wool, silk, and leather that should never be bleached because the bleach can damage them.
The most common type of bleach is chlorine bleach, which both whitens and disinfects, but it should only be used on all-white fabrics.
Non-chlorine bleach i.e. oxygen bleach is safe to use on colored fabrics to brighten and remove stains, but it does not disinfect your clothes.
Hydrogen peroxide is non-toxic to both whites and colors, and it whitens, brightens, disinfects, and deodorizes fabrics. It is more environmentally friendly than other types of bleaches, but it is a milder bleach that will not be as effective as chlorine or oxygen bleaches.
What is the Effect of Chlorine on Fabric?
Chlorine is an excellent bleaching agent that effectively removes stains from your clothes. However, it has a bleaching effect on almost all types of colored fabric.
The effect mainly depends on the concentration of chlorine. When the concentration exceeds 80 ppm, the reaction occurs almost immediately. However, at lower levels, the fading or whitening is gradual and only becomes apparent after multiple exposures over time.
You may have noticed that after a few years of washing clothes, the colors fade even when no bleach is used. While there are other factors at play, this is due to the small amount of chlorine in the water.
You may have also noticed that a new bathing suit fades noticeably after only one season of swimming in a pool. When the concentration of chlorine in a swimming pool is higher, the bleaching process can be accelerated.
Chlorine also has the unintended consequence of reducing the fabric’s integrity. The chlorine gradually eats away at the fibers, causing them to become thinner and thinner. Under normal use, the threads eventually become so small and frail that they tear.
Thread degradation caused by chlorinated water is exacerbated in natural fibers such as cotton. While chlorine is an excellent solution for protecting swimmers’ health, it is not so great for fabric. There are a few different types of chlorine-resistant materials available. However, none of them are chlorine-resistant. All fabrics will eventually succumb to chlorine’s corrosive effects.
Is it safe to use bleach in the washing machine?
Because chlorine bleach can completely remove color and dissolve fibers, it should never be poured directly onto clothes in a sink or washer. Before adding the laundry, either add the bleach to an automatic dispenser or to the washer water. Laundry detergent should be added as usual.
Is chlorine safe to use for cleaning?
Chlorine works better than other disinfectants for cleaning water because it keeps water clean over time and is safe to use in low concentrations. If you want to kill bacteria quickly and effectively on surfaces, use chlorine-based bleach or alcohol-based disinfectants.
In a nutshell, chorine not only disinfect or sterilize your clothes but also removes smell from the clothes. It is a powerful cleaning agent with harmful chemicals so it should be used with care.