Bleach Vs Oxygen Bleach (what’s the difference & when to use them)

Bleach is a multi-purpose disinfectant commonly used in many households for its whitening and cleaning properties. But when it comes to Bleach vs Oxygen Bleach, what are the differences and best uses for each?

Put simply, regular bleach is a potent, chlorine-based disinfectant ideal for heavy-duty cleaning and whitening of white fabrics but requires careful handling due to its harshness, whereas oxygen bleach is an eco-friendly, gentler alternative suitable for coloured and delicate fabrics, offering effective stain removal and deodorising with less risk of damage. 

In this article, we’ll take a deeper look into both and make some suggestions on when to use each.

Understanding Bleach And Its Types

Bleach is a multi-purpose disinfectant commonly used in many households due to its whitening and cleaning properties. There are two main types of bleach: traditional bleach and oxygen bleach.

Traditional Bleach (chlorine-based disinfectant)

The traditional or regular bleach is a chlorine-based chemical, containing sodium hypochlorite. It’s an extremely powerful disinfectant, often in liquid form, used for removing stains and whitening fabrics. However, due to its whitening properties, caution is advised when using it on coloured fabrics to avoid bleach stains. It is most effective on white clothes that need brightening.

Chlorine bleach’s strong oxidative properties make it a potent germicide, useful in killing bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It’s great for disinfecting both residential and commercial spaces, but safe handling is important to prevent chemical burns and inhalation of toxic fumes.

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Oxygen Bleach (eco-friendly alternative) 

Oxygen bleach is an environmentally friendly version of traditional bleach, consisting of hydrogen peroxide, sodium percarbonate, and natural soda crystals. 

Typically in powder form, it releases oxygen when dissolved in water, creating a gentle bubbling action that aids in cleaning and deodorising. 

Oxygen bleach is more eco-friendly, with a pleasant smell, making it suitable for small, less ventilated spaces. It’s colour-safe, making it a better choice for coloured and delicate fabrics.

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How Does Bleach Work?

Bleach, whether traditional or oxygen-based, works through a process called oxidation. 

Toilet Bleach

The most common type, sodium hypochlorite, releases chlorine into the environment when used, forming hypochlorous acid, the active agent for bleaching and disinfecting.

Comparing Traditional & Oxygen Bleach

The choice between traditional chlorine bleach and oxygen bleach involves understanding their distinct properties, applications, and implications for health and the environment. 

Let’s take a look at their differences:

What They Contain

Traditional Chlorine Bleach is composed primarily of sodium hypochlorite. It works through a powerful oxidative process by releasing chlorine, which reacts with water to form hypochlorous acid, the active agent responsible for its strong bleaching and disinfecting effects.

Oxygen Bleach, known also as percarbonate of soda, contains a blend of hydrogen peroxide and sodium percarbonate. Upon dissolving in water, it releases oxygen, resulting in a gentle bubbling action that aids in cleaning and deodorising without the harshness of chlorine.

What They’re Good For

Traditional Chlorine Bleach has potent germicidal properties that make it ideal for sanitising areas with high foot traffic or contact, and for treating stubborn stains. However, its aggressive nature requires caution, especially with coloured fabrics, to prevent bleaching or fabric damage.

stained shirt and bleach

Oxygen Bleach, while milder, effectively removes stains and odours, making it suitable for general cleaning tasks. Its colour-safe formulation ensures that it is gentle on both coloured and delicate fabrics, reducing the risk of damage or fading.

How They Impact The Environment

Traditional Chlorine Bleach poses environmental concerns due to the release of harmful chemicals during use, contributing to pollution. Plus, its potential to cause skin irritation, respiratory issues, and other health risks necessitates careful handling, including proper dilution and ventilation.

Oxygen Bleach is an eco-friendly alternative that is not only safer for household use around children and pets but also for the environment. It releases no harmful chemicals and is often preferred for its milder scent, especially in areas with limited ventilation.

Practical Uses And Precautions

Traditional Chlorine Bleach is best used for high-touch surfaces, tough stains, and brightening white fabrics. Users should follow packaging instructions closely for diluting and apply in well-ventilated areas while storing safely away from children and pets.

Oxygen Bleach is ideal for regular cleaning, it can be safely used on coloured fabrics and in everyday laundry. It’s advisable to dissolve the powder as per the instructions, and it can be used both in the washing machine (in the detergent compartment or directly in the drum) and for surface cleaning by mixing with water.

Practical Tips For Using Bleach

Here are a few things you need to keep in mind when using bleach:

Using Chlorine Bleach

Always store bleach in a safe place, away from pets and children. For chlorine bleach, dilute it with water as per packaging instructions for the best results.

Using Oxygen Bleach

To use oxygen bleach, dissolve the powder in water following package instructions. For laundry, it can go in the detergent compartment or directly in the drum with clothes. For cleaning, mix 2 tablespoons of the powder with 1 litre of warm water, adding more powder for heavily dirty areas.

Natural Alternatives To Bleach

If you prefer fewer chemicals, consider using white vinegar, lemon juice, or bicarbonate of soda as alternatives to bleach.

lemon juice and white vinegar

Is One Better Than The Other?

Both traditional chlorine bleach and oxygen bleach have their unique advantages and applications in household cleaning and laundry care. 

While traditional bleach offers superior disinfecting power and whitening for white fabrics, it requires careful handling due to its potential harshness. Oxygen bleach, on the other hand, presents a more environmentally friendly and gentler alternative, suitable for coloured and delicate fabrics. 

Understanding the differences and proper usage of each can ensure effective cleaning while maintaining the safety and integrity of your fabrics and surfaces.

Do you have questions? Feel free to leave a comment below!

SEE ALSO: How to How to Bleach White Clothes (easy method)

Frequently Asked Questions

Is oxygen-based bleach better than regular bleach?

Oxygen-based bleach is not necessarily better than regular bleach; it’s an eco-friendlier and gentler alternative, especially suitable for coloured and delicate fabrics, while traditional bleach offers superior disinfecting power and whitening for white fabrics.

What is oxygen bleach used for?

Oxygen bleach is used for general cleaning, removing stains, and deodorising, particularly effective on coloured and delicate fabrics due to its gentle nature and lesser risk of damage.

When should bleach be used?

Bleach should be used for disinfecting surfaces in bathrooms and kitchens, high-traffic areas, and laundry tasks like removing tough stains and brightening white fabrics. Traditional bleach is ideal for these purposes, while oxygen bleach is better for less resilient fabrics and spaces.

What is the proper way to use bleach?

The proper way to use bleach involves diluting chlorine bleach with water according to packaging instructions for safety and effectiveness. For oxygen bleach, dissolve the powder in water as per instructions, using it in laundry or for cleaning surfaces by mixing with warm water.

How do you use oxygen bleach on clothes?

To use oxygen bleach on clothes, dissolve the powder in water following the package instructions, then add it either to the detergent compartment or directly in the drum with the clothes, ensuring a gentle and effective cleaning process for coloured and delicate fabrics.

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