What Is Oxygen Bleach (and how to use it)

Ever wondered what oxygen bleach is and how to use it? If so, this article is for you. Oxygen bleach is a safer alternative to chlorine bleach to get your clothes clean and remove stains. 

To find out all there is to know about using oxygen bleach as well as what it actually is, keep reading.

What Is Oxygen Bleach?

Oxygen bleach is the common name for sodium percarbonate which is a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and soda crystals. It is found in many detergents and other cleaning products and is a powder that needs to be diluted with water.

Once it comes into contact with water at temperatures of 40 C or more, oxygen bleach releases oxygen bubbles which make stain removal really easy. This is because the oxygen bubbles break down dirt, stains, smells and germs and bacteria. It is effective on tea, coffee, fruit juice, red wine, blood and grease stains.

It is an environmentally friendly product because the only by-product is soda ash which is a non-toxic substance which doesn’t harm any form of aquatic life.

What Is Chlorine Bleach?

Chlorine bleach is a mixture of synthetic chemicals, but the main ingredient is sodium hypochlorite. Chlorine is a naturally occurring element and is used to make sodium hypochlorite as well as other products including PVC, and it’s also used to kill bacteria in swimming pools and drinking water.

Chlorine is highly toxic and was used during WW1 as a chemical weapon. It is found in a wide range of household cleaners and disinfectants and can be harmful to health.

From splashes on the skin that can burn, to accidental swallowing and inhalation, the harmful effects of chlorine bleach can cause fatalities, health issues include lung disease, asthma, wheezing and fatigue.

woman blowing her nose as an allergic reaction

What’s The Difference Between Oxygen Bleach & Chlorine Bleach?

Chlorine bleach is a harsher, stronger type of bleach compared to oxygen bleach but neither should be allowed onto the skin or into the eyes etc. The health risks concerning chlorine bleach are way greater than those associated with oxygen bleach but you should exercise caution when using any type of bleaching agent.

You should for instance, wear gloves when handling oxygen bleach if you have sensitive skin, never inhale it and keep it away from children.

Why Is Oxygen Bleach Better?

There are a few key reasons why oxygen bleach is better for your laundry than chlorine bleach, here are the main ones: 

It’s Better For The Environment

Oxygen bleach is a biodegradable product which will decompose into oxygen, water and soda ash. This means it will not harm the environment at all unlike chlorine bleach that has been used in chemical warfare.

It Only Contains One Ingredient

Unlike chlorine bleach which is a combination of many different chemicals including sodium hypochlorite, lauramine oxide, sodium laureate, sodium hydroxide, Sodium silicate and perfumes, oxygen bleach is made from one single natural ingredient, sodium percarbonate.

With no added perfumes, diluting agents, fillers or preservatives, oxygen bleach is just sodium percarbonate powder which is mixed at home with water. 

It Does Not Cause Corrosion To Fabrics (most of the time)

Oxygen bleach is not a harsh corrosive chemical like chlorine bleach. It doesn’t damage most fabrics, although you shouldn’t use oxygen bleach on silk or wool as it cannot differentiate between protein stains like grease and blood and protein fibres like wool and silk.

On other fibres it is gentle enough to cause little to no damage at all.

It’s Safe To Use On Coloured Clothes

Oxygen bleach is safe to use on coloured fabrics and will not cause dyes to become bleached like chlorine bleach will.

Having said that, we still recommend doing a patch test on an inconspicuous area before use.

4 Important Differences Between Chlorine Bleach & Oxygen Bleach

  1. Oxygen bleach can be mixed with other detergents without any adverse effects. The same cannot be said of chlorine bleach.
  2. It is safe to use oxygen bleach on coloured or dyed fabrics without causing any damage to the colours unlike chlorine bleach which could leave unsightly stains.
  3. Oxygen bleach only works at temperatures of 40 C or above.
  4. Oxygen bleach is safer for the environment because it breaks down into naturally occurring substances: oxygen, water and soda ash – none of which are harmful to the environment.

How Do You Use Oxygen Bleach To Clean Your Laundry?

Always check the wash care labels

Please Note: Before using oxygen bleach on any of your clothes you should check the wash care label first.

There are several ways to use oxygen bleach in your laundry which include;

To Brighten Whites

All you need to do is add ½ a cup of oxygen bleach to your wash along with your regular detergent. However, oxygen bleach should never be used on silk, wool or leather items or anything with a leather trim or wooden buttons.

General Laundry

To remove dirt and stains and get your whites bright, dissolve 2 to 3 tablespoons of oxygen bleach in a little water and add to the washing machine.

If the clothes are heavily soiled, add ½ a cup dissolved in water to the wash load.

As A Pre-Soak

Dissolve ½ a cup of oxygen bleach into 4 litres of water. Soak the clothes for at least 1 hour overnight is best. As sodium percarbonate only remains active for around 6 to 8 hours once activated with water, soaking clothes for any longer is pointless.

As A Cleaning Agent

You can use a solution of ¾ of a cup of oxygen bleach and 4 litres of water to clean the fridge, kitchen, bathroom, even carpets and upholstery as long as you do a patch test first.

You can even make a paste from oxygen bleach and apply to tile grout to remove stains and darkening.

For Mould Removal

To remove mould mix ¾ of a cup of oxygen bleach with 4 litres of 

water. This should be applied to the surface of the mould and scrubbed using a brush or sponge.

Leave for around 30 minutes and then rinse thoroughly with clean water.

To Clean Water Bottles

To clean water bottles and their caps soak in hot water with one tablespoon of oxygen bleach for 60 minutes and then rinse thoroughly with clean water.

To Remove Stains From Cups & Mugs

Soak cups and mugs in a solution of oxygen bleach and warm water. Leave for 30 to 60 minutes. Then rinse with fresh clean water.

Other Uses

Oxygen bleach can also be used to clean mop heads, scrubbing brushes, terry nappies, dustbins and even to clean decks and patios.

Oxygen Bleach Safety Tips

There are a few tips you should remember to use oxygen bleach safely. These include;

  • Never Use On Delicate Fabrics
    Oxygen bleach can cause damage to delicate fabrics like wool and silk. It treats them exactly the same as many stains and disintegrates them.
  • Keep It Dry
    As oxygen bleach is activated once it’s wet, it should be stored in a dry place.
  • Keep The Container Closed
    As part of that dry storage, always keep the container closed when not in use.
  • Keep Away From Pets & Children
    Just like all cleaning products, you should store oxygen bleach in a closed container out of the reach of pets and children.

Where Can You Buy Oxygen Bleach?

Oxygen bleach can be purchased at all major supermarkets and grocery stores. Or it can be purchased online, here are a few popular brands of oxygen bleach;

Sodasan Oxygen Bleach

This large tub of oxygen bleach is great for all kinds of cleaning tasks around the home including laundry.

Vanish Oxi Action

This is probably the best known oxygen bleach on sale in the UK. Their marketing team really knows their stuff. But that doesn’t take away from the cleaning power of this product.

Vebox Oxygen Bleach

Vebox - Ultra Oxygen Bleach - Powder Stain Remover - Developed for White Laundries 1KG
  • It prolongs carpet cleaner machine life by reducing the use of harsh and corrosive products.
  • It is very effective as a laundry presoak for heavily stained items.

This oxygen bleach is just as effective as any of the other brands available on the market.

SEE ALSO: Can You Use Household Bleach On Your Laundry?

Frequently Asked Questions

Is oxygen bleach the same as regular bleach?

Oxygen bleach, otherwise known as percarbonate of soda, is a natural, safe alternative to chlorine bleach. It removes stains, brightens whites and is also biodegradable.

What should you not use oxygen bleach on?

You shouldn’t use oxygen bleach on wool, silk, leather or anything with wooden buttons.

What is the chemical name for oxygen bleach?

The chemical name for oxygen bleach is sodium percarbonate.

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