Bleach 101

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- There are many ways to bleach clothes. You can choose from products that you buy and products that you create from what you have at home.

Chlorine bleach: This is one all of us are familiar with and most of us have had a bad experience with it. When using chlorine bleach, use it only on all white fabrics and preferably white cotton, not blends. Chlorine Bleach can turn polyester blends a gray color. Never pour the beach directly into the wash on the clothes. Put it either in the bleach dispenser, if your washer is equipped with one, or pour it in while the water is running in and prior to placing the clothes in the washer. Measure carefully. Remember if splashed on any fabric chlorine bleach will remove color. Even the fumes can remove color from fabric.

All-fabric bleach: This is sort of the catch-all bleach. It is safe for all fabrics and for colors or whites. It works well on polyester and blend fabrics too. This should be put in the machine a the water is running in and never poured directly on the clothes either. More is not better, so be sure you measure, and don’t just pour.

Bluing: This is an old fashion whitening product. It works well to brighten whites, especially cottons. Use according to box or bottle directions and do not pour directly on to the clothes or it will stain them blue.

White Brite: I really like this product. It will brighten dingy whites, remove yellowing and rust stains and even fugitive color that has bled into clothes. You can use on whites and colors. Use according to directions. Google for a store near you.

Lemon juice: Lemon is nature’s bleach and disinfectant. To whiten clothes, fill a bucket with the hottest water possible for the fabric you are working with, then pour in ½ cup of lemon juice or lemon slices. Soak the clothes for 30 minutes or even overnight. If you are using the juice you can pour it all directly into the machine. This works especially well on white socks.

Dishwasher detergent: This is a great whitener. You can fill a bucket with the hottest possible water for the fabric you are working on and add 3 tablespoons of automatic dishwasher detergent or add 1/3 cup to a full washer of white clothes along with your regular detergent.

Hydrogen peroxide: To bleach delicate white items, such as wool or wool blends soak them overnight in a solution of 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 8 parts cold water. Launder according to care instructions.

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