Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How to Use Bleach to ACTUALLY WHITEN Your Clothes

I had a robe from Bath and Body Works that had become dingy. I didn't want to buy a new one- I was ready to try anything. So, I decided to go a little bleach-crazy- I had nothing to lose, I was about to throw it out anyhow! And so I learned how to ACTUALLY whiten clothes with bleach!

-Gather all of the clothes you want whitened (make sure they are sturdy and not delicate fabrics and that they don't have any colors at all, threads, etc.)
-Throw them in the washer on HOT and wait until it has been filled with water- then STOP the washer
-Add (believe it or not) 4-5 cups of bleach
-Allow to soak for a few hours
-Add laundry detergent and wash

You'll be shocked that what seemed un-whitenable actually turns pure white!

Sidenote: A few weeks after I wrote this, I started using DIY OxyClean that I just made at home- and while bleach is good to freshen up and whiten clothes, this DIY OxyClean just blows it out of the water in terms of stain remover. DEFINITELY check it out, especially for delicate fabrics.

(As I added to the comments below, please note that this method of using bleach really is only for sturdy white fabrics, not delicate or old fabrics. If you are in doubt, put a small piece of the shirt in the bleach water and let it sit to see how it stands up to it. If you have any qualms about the fabric, boil it instead in the DIY OXYCLEAN from above.)

17 comments:

  1. Any suggestions for people who have a front load washer? I can not open my washer in the middle of a wash setting.

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    1. Your machine should have a spot at the top to add your detergent through, you can add it through there. There may even be a spot for bleach in the detergent dispenser.

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    2. My detergent dispenser, I can tell you, will not hold 4 to 5 cups of bleach! I will try just soaking for a few hours in the sink with hot water.

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    3. Allow washer to fill with water. You can then add vinegar or bleach directly over top of curtain. I never use the soap dispenser. Before it rinses add soda o soften curtain . The vinegar will not change color of threads

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  2. Why not soak clothes in super hot water an bleach in a large plastic tub or in the sink? I have a front loader too, so that's what I do. It works just the same.

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  3. What will happen if you have colored thread or something?

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    Replies
    1. If you have colored threads, sometimes the bleach will whiten them entirely.

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  4. Did this and the bleach ate ALL of my clothes... i only let it sit for an hour... now im out 10 white shirts..

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    Replies
    1. That is a HUGE bummer and I am so sorry to hear that! This method of using bleach really is only for sturdy white fabrics, not delicate or old fabrics. If you are in doubt, put a small piece of the shirt in the bleach water and let it sit to see how it stands up to it. If you have any qualms about the fabric, boil it instead in the DIY OXYCLEAN from above - I used bleach on some antique lace and it literally turned to pulp- but I had no issues whatsoever with antique lace and other sensitive, old fabrics using the DIY OXYCLEAN.

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  5. shirts should Not sit in bleach for long periods. not a very good article on bleach usage. looking forward to trying the diy oxiclean though

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  6. I am very skeptical on allowing shirts to sit in bleach. Yikes! I prefer the old "Ask Heloise" method.
    1/2 Amt of normal detergent
    1/4 Cup bleach
    1 cup cascade
    Wash in hot water

    It saves the shirts w/ a little bit of color from being ruined. Your whites turn out bright. Adjust for HE washers. I don't have one, so I'm not sure how you'd do it, but I'm sure my friend Google would know.

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  7. ive been doing this for a long time, but it doesnt have to sit for 2 hours or use that much. that much bleach will eat through your clothing, and ruin them. if anything use about 1 cup and soak for 10-20 minutes, add your detergent then wash.

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  8. That is WAY too much bleach. It may have worked great for a robe because of the thickness, but regular clothing will be destroyed. You may not see it immediately but after several washes you will start to see a breakdown and thinning of the fabric and subsequently, holes. I used to soak my whites, sturdy ones, in 3/4 cup bleach and hot water and even then I started noticing damage. Vinegar and baking soda are a great, safe alternative if bleach isn't doing enough.

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  9. Well, hmmm.

    1) Throwing any dirty clothes in the washer without first pre-treating and then a cold pre-rinse/wash - imho - is a recipe for disaster.

    Hot water can set any stains and discolored areas.

    2) If you do a cold rinse, or for heavily stained whites, an actual cold wash with soap first then the hot wash works out MUCH better.

    3) Soaking for hours in bleach isn't necessary, nor is the amount. If your clothes are that dingy then use other methods of whitening AFTER the cold rinse/wash.

    A 1/2 hour soak with the amount of bleach your equipment manufacturer recommends is best. Bleach is an oxidizer and over-bleaching WILL oxidize the rubber gaskets and plastic parts in your washer so expect earlier failure if you over-bleach.

    Not sure what that does to the warranty (and believe me - if you're an apt dweller, your apt manager WILL care).

    There are plenty of suggestions on the net. I'm afraid that if you really want white whites you have to follow the equation:

    attention(time) + work(effort) = results.

    :-)

    There are a lot of suggestions in the Comments at this page.
    http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/5-ways-to-naturally-clean-whit-51266

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  10. Don't the clothes smell like bleach? I have a white sheet that was over bleached & I've washed it numerous times & it STILL smells of bleach!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, it will definitely smell like bleach after washing the first time, but after subsequent washes, the bleach smell always went away.

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  11. I followed your approach and saved my dress for a little longer - thanks!
    My issue: I had a dress that I thought was white that picked up red spots from a shirt when I washed it with my colors. I took it to a dry cleaner who said the dye stains would not come out, though he tried. But I loved the dressed so kept it. Then, this week, I said, let me try bleaching it and I put bleach directly on one of the red spots. It took out the red...but also left a whiter white spot. When I washed the entire dress in partial bleach (1 cup per load), the other spots also came out but now I had bleach spots.
    What I learned:
    (1) Don't ever put bleach directly on off-white clothes.
    (2) Even for pure whites, it will eat at the fabric eventually.
    (3) Create your bleach blend first - even in the washing machine.
    (4) If you follow the blog above, make sure to rinse twice and probably don't wash that particular clothes with other clothes (other than pure whites) in the future.
    (5) Expect that the clothes won't last as long in its new pure white form.

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