How to How to Bleach White Clothes (easy method)

White clothes are so versatile, they go with pretty much anything which makes it even more annoying when your favourite white t-shirt gets stained. Before you decide to throw it away, you could bleach it to remove that stain. This will also work for tired faded white clothing as well.

When white clothes become grey and faded we often relegate them to the back of the cupboard or throw them in the recycling bin. But in many cases, they can be restored to their former brilliance with the careful application of bleach.

What To Consider Before Bleaching White Clothes

Before we get started we need to talk a little bit about the harmful effects of bleach. Bleach is an extremely strong chemical and if it’s not used correctly it can pose serious adverse health implications. Which leads us onto some of the precautions you should take before reaching for that bottle of bleach.

  • Always use bleach in a well ventilated space
    Breathing in bleach fumes for too long can cause serious health risks which include; respiratory illness, intestinal issues and problems with your eyes. Which is why you should always use bleach in a well ventilated room.
  • Wear adequate protective clothing
    Bleach is both an irritant and corrosive which means getting it on your skin is not a good idea. You should always wear gloves and an apron when using bleach.
  • Never mix cleaning products
    Mixing bleach with certain cleaning products like ammonia, acids and any cleaning products containing any of these chemicals can produce poisonous gases which can be fatal.

Keeping Your Clothes Safe

It’s not just you and your skin that need to be protected from bleach, it’s also the clothes you’re planning to bleach too. To help minimise the risks of using bleach on your clothes you should always;

  • Check the care label
    Clothes are fitted with a care label to help you to get the best from them. On the care label it will either say something like “do not bleach” or there will be a triangle symbol. If there is a triangle with an X over it, it means do not use bleach, a triangle with diagonal lines means bleach using a non-chlorine bleach (oxygen bleach) and a plain triangle means it’s safe to use bleach on this garment.
  • Do a spot test
    Even if the care label indicates that the garment can be bleached, you should always err on the side of caution and do a spot test. Find an inconspicuous spot like an inside seam or the inside of a pocket or even the underside of the collar.
  • Use the correct type of bleach
    When it comes to bleaching clothes, there are two main choices which are Chlorine bleach or Oxygen bleach.
    • Chlorine beach is also known as regular or household bleach and should only be used on hard wearing materials. It is the best type for removing stubborn stains but is also the most corrosive. 
    • Oxygen bleach is a more gentle bleach and can be used on almost all materials. However, oxygen bleach is less effective on stubborn stains.
Washing Machine

The Easiest Ways To Bleach White Clothes

There are two easy ways to bleach white clothes depending on how stained they are. 

Soaking White Clothes In A Bucket

The first involves a bucket, warm water and bleach, and time. All you need to do is;

  1. Fill the bucket with warm water.
  2. Place the clothes in the water and ensure the clothes are fully submerged.
  3. Add the bleach to the water in the bucket (you need to dilute the bleach according to the manufacturer’s instructions, usually ¼ of a cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water).
  4. Stir the bucket to make sure all of the clothes are fully saturated with the bleach and water mixture.
  5. Allow the clothes to soak for at least ten minutes.
  6. Transfer the clothes to the washing machine and run a rinse cycle.

Bleaching White Clothes In A Washing Machine

If your clothes are only slightly stained or you don’t want the hassle of soaking clothes, you can add bleach directly to your washing machine. All you need to do is;

  1. Place the clothes in the washing machine’s drum.
  2. If you’re using powdered bleach (oxygen bleach) simply add it to the drum with the washing.
  3. If you’re using liquid bleach (chlorine bleach), tip the recommended amount into the bleach dispenser on your washing machine.
  4. Use your regular detergent in the usual way and run a hot wash.
  5. Run an extra rinse cycle after the washing machine has finished.

That’s it, two very easy ways to bleach your white clothes. However, there are a few points you should consider before bleaching your white clothes. Which are;

  • Never bleach clothes that should not be bleached.
  • Never leave clothes soaking in bleach for longer than 15 minutes.
  • Never pour bleach directly onto your clothes as this can cause damage to the fabric.
  • Never use a hot wash unless the care label states that the clothes can be washed in a hot wash.
  • Never over use bleach, because this can cause whites to become yellow.

For more information on ways to make your clothes white again, check out this article.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you put bleach directly on white clothes?

You should never put undiluted bleach directly onto clothes as it can burn through the fabric. Especially chlorine bleach, non-chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach, can be placed directly on the clothes in the drum of the washing machine.

How long does it take bleach to whiten fabric?

It takes around 10 minutes to whiten fabric using bleach. It will become even brighter once it dries after rinsing.

Can I use Domestos to bleach clothes?

You can use Domestos to bleach clothes but it will need to be diluted by a large amount.

Why does bleach turn white fabric yellow?

Bleach will turn white fabric yellow if it is overused. Or if the fabric is synthetic like polyester or nylon. The bleach can weaken the fibres which turns the synthetic polymers back to their original yellow colour.

How much bleach is needed to whiten clothes?

You should use ¼ of a cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water to whiten clothes.

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