Did you ever actually learn how to properly bleach white clothing to get out stains and get them white again? I never did – in fact, the first time I ever even bought bleach was back in December when I wanted to clean my plastic cutting boards. So I’m really new at this.
So, does bleach actually make whites whiter? To my surprise, the answer is, only sometimes and to a certain degree. In my typical science-experiment-methods, it took a few tries to see the results that I wanted, and even then, it didn’t make everything perfectly white.
I started by searching around the internet and found a few important tips that I had no idea about:
- Bleach your whites in a hot water cycle for better results (apparently chlorine bleach is most effective in hot water, who knew?)
- Add detergent to the washing machine, then bleach (in the dispenser if you have one), then let the machine run for awhile to mix the bleach and water before adding clothing. Sounds like a no-brainer, but I didn’t know that!
- After the washing machine has finished the complete cycle, set it on another rinse and spin cycle until the clothes don’t smell like bleach anymore.
- Measure the bleach and follow the directions on the bottle of bleach. My original attempt was with 3/4 cup bleach for a regular load, but I barely noticed a difference in the clothes so I had to use more.
- 3/4 cup of bleach for a large load
- Result: Barely noticeable change. Some stains lightened slightly, but that’s it.
- 2-1/2 cups of bleach for a small load (which is less than the bleach bottle recommends!)
- Result: Whites definitely whiter. Stains gone. Except kids socks – even bleach couldn’t tackle those stains!
- Problem: the whole house smelled like a public swimming pool so I had to open some windows and turn on some fans. Also I had to run the clothes through two extra rinse cycles to get rid of the chlorine smell.
It’s really difficult to photograph white clothing, so some of these may not be as obvious in photos as they are in person.
Sweaters, before and after:
The slightly grayed and yellowed sweater returned to a fresher looking white.
Kids hoodie sweatshirt before and after:
All the stains came out and the grayed sweater returned to white.
Kids socks before and after:
You can see that the bleach couldn’t combat all of the dirt from my toddler’s socks but it’s a definitely improvement. I’m sure I could have gotten the stains out if I had upped the concentration of bleach, but I already thought I was using a ton of bleach so I stopped there. At least they are just socks!
I would think that bleach is bleach, so I used bleach from the dollar store, because I just happened to be there when I needed to buy it. On the bottle, it says for large top loading washing machines to use 375mL per 4L of water (1.5 cups per gallon), which is tons of bleach! By comparison it says only 125mL of bleach per 4L of water (half a cup per gallon) for a front loading washer. Maybe dollar store bleach is more diluted? Or our large top loading washing machine just needs more bleach? Either way, next time I’ll have to buy Clorox and compare the amounts.
If you have your own tips or recommendations for using bleach on clothing, I’d love to hear them. So please leave a comment below!