Learning how to bleach clothes will take your laundering to a new level. Bleaching can help make a piece of fabric look brighter, remove stains, and act as a disinfectant. Doing it improperly, though, might destroy the fabric because bleach is a strong chemical product. Apart from following the right procedure, you must also know the suitable bleaching agents to use.
How to Bleach Clothes That are White
White fabric is the easiest to get stained; they even sometimes turn yellow when stored for a long time. Bleaching has long been the technique of choice to bring whites back to life and make them look as fresh as possible. Whether you use a chlorine-based or eco-friendly bleaching product, there are four steps to follow on how to bleach clothes successfully:
- Spot Treat
Step 1 - Preparation
In preparation for how to bleach clothes that are white, here are the things you need to do:
Sort the Whites from Other Colors
Much like laundering, make sure you sort your clothes out, ensuring you only include plain white garments. However, if you choose a color-safe bleach, you can add white clothes with colored stripes, patterns, and designs.
When sorting your clothes, you must also check the care instruction label or tag to see if you can bleach the item. You can bleach most clothes made of cotton, linen, and rayon fabrics, while you should never use bleach on acetate, wool, wool, spandex, silk, mohair, leather, and non-colorfast clothes.
Also, check if you can wash the piece of clothing using hot water; if not, separate it from those that you can. Lastly, check what is machine-washable and handwash-only.
Not only would should you prepare the clothes you need to wash, but you must also ensure there’s enough ventilation in the washroom. Bleaching products can irritate the eyes and nose and the fumes can be toxic. Likewise, since it can be a skin irritant, you must wear gloves and an apron.
Step 2 - Spot Treat
If your white clothes have stains, you must spot treat them with the same bleach solution you’ll use in the actual bleaching step. Here are what you need to do:
Identify the Type of Stain
Bleach can’t remove all types of stains, specifically oil-based ones like grease. It will just make things worse, so having them dry cleaned would be better. For everyday stains, such as coffee and tea, proceed to the next step.
Prepare the Clothes and Bleach Solution
Lay a clean, thick, absorbent white rag or a piece of cloth on top of a clean, flat surface. Place the clothing on top of the rag, with the stain facing downward. Next, dilute bleach in a small bowl using a ratio of one part bleach and 30 parts water. Swirl using a spoon or your hand wearing a glove.
Treat the Stain
Get a piece of cotton or a small white cloth and dampen it with the bleaching solution you prepared. Dab it on the stain and rub it lightly or gently from the outside in. Repeat using a clean piece of cotton or cloth until you lift all the stains away.
Step 3 - Bleach
Like washing your clothes, you can bleach your clothes using your washer or do it manually, depending on what the clothing’s care label says.
How to Bleach Clothes Using Your Washer
To bleach your white clothes properly and safely with the help of your washing machine, follow these steps:
1. Set the Machine
The heat helps activate bleach, so most experts recommend setting your washing machine’s temperature to hot. For the batch of clothes, you can’t wash with hot water, you can set the temperature to normal or warm, depending on the care tag. Next, set all the other washer settings to regular.
2. Add the Bleach (and Detergent)
The bleach product usually comes with diluting instructions, but if it doesn’t, you can measure ¾ of a cup or 180 millimeters of bleach for a regular load of white clothes. If you think your clothes will fill half of your machine, then you can use one cup of bleach. On the other hand, if it would only fill one-fourth of your washer, use half a cup of bleach.
Then, pour the bleach into your washer’s bleach compartment, a tiny, enclosed space in your machine’s upper lip. If it doesn’t have any, set the bleach aside and then proceed to the next step.
If you’re also washing your clothes and not just bleaching, which is recommended to save energy and time, pour the right amount and type of detergent in your washer’s detergent compartment.
3. Turn Your Washer On
Press your machine’s On button or turn or pull the knob to the ON position. For machines without a bleach compartment, once it gets filled with water, add the bleach and then wait for five minutes before proceeding to the next step.
4. Put Your Clothes and Start Cycle
While the machine agitates the bleach, water, (and detergent), place the clothes in, one piece at a time, to ensure they won’t get tangled up. When the machine gets filled with the right number of clothes, let it do its job. It’s best to add one last rinse cycle to remove the bleach’s smell, especially if you’re only bleaching the clothes and not washing them.
How to Bleach Clothes by Hand
Bleaching your white clothes by hand will take a little longer and require more effort, but sometimes, it’s the safest method since you have control of everything. That said, here are the steps for how to bleach clothes by hand:
1. Soak Dirty Clothes
The dirt in your clothes will affect how well the fabric absorbs the bleach, so the dirty areas won’t be as well bleached as the “not-so-dirty” areas. As such, you must soak your dirty clothes in a basin or tub with detergent for about three minutes. Give the dirty areas a good, gentle scrub. Rinse and remove excess water.
2. Prepare the Bleach Solution
Add a gallon or 3.8 liters of cold, warm, or hot water, depending on what your clothing requires, in another basin or tub. You may also use your sink but ensure it’s bleach-friendly. Next, measure half a cup or 120 millimeters of bleach and pour and mix it in the water.
3. Submerge Your Clothes
Wear your rubber gloves and gently push your clothes in the bleach solution. Give them a little swirl, one piece at a time, and let them soak for 15 minutes or more.
Remove the clothes from the bleach solution, give them a little, gentle squeeze and transfer them to the receptacle with clean water. Hold each piece of clothing on each end, raise it, put it back under the water, and raise it again. Repeat until you’re sure the bleach solution (and detergent) has been removed.
Step 4 - Drying
Remove the clothes from the machine or receptacle and check if they’re as white as you want them to be. If not, you can repeat the whole process. If you’re happy, remove excess water, and then you can hang them to air-dry or machine-dry them, depending on the care tag.
How to Bleach Clothes that are Colored
Bleaching colored clothes is possible by using non-bleach, oxygen-based, or color-safe bleaching products. Always check the product's label carefully to ensure it specifies it is suitable for colored clothing.
There are four general steps to succeed in how to bleach colored clothes, and they are:
- Sort and Ensure Safety
- Patch Test
- Spot Treat
- Most Colored Clothes
- Pastel-Colored, Color-Fast Clothes
- Black and Red Clothes
Step 1 - Prepare
With the appropriate bleach at hand, here are the other essential things you need to do to ensure you’re prepared enough to tackle the job:
Sort and Ensure Safety
Like the first step of bleaching white clothes, you must sort your colored garments to prevent damaging any or all of them. Separate handwash-only from machine-washable ones, light-colored clothes from dark-colored ones, and those that you can wash on cold, warm, and hot temperatures. Likewise, even though the products might not be as strong as chlorine-based bleaching agents, it’s best to wear a pair of gloves and an apron.
Even if you’re using color-safe bleach, it’s best to test it on your clothes you’re about to bleach to be 100% sure it won’t damage them. You need to apply one drop of the bleaching product in the most inconspicuous area of the fabric. Leave it for three minutes and rinse the bleach with water. Check for any color changes, which indicates the piece of clothing isn’t bleach-safe.
Step 2 - Spot Treat
Treating stains on colored clothes will be a bit different from white clothes. There are also three methods depending on the color of your clothes.
Most Colored Clothes
The recommended procedure for how to bleach clothes that are colored is as follows:
- Dilute one cup of color-safe bleach in a large bowl or a bucket of cold, warm, or hot water, and then mix.
- Soak your stained colored clothes and leave them from an hour to 24 hours.
- While soaking, gently scrub the clothes once in a while, focusing more on the stained area to prevent stiffness and lift the stains.
- Remove the clothes from the solution and remove excess water by carefully squeezing them.
Pastel-Colored, Color-Fast Clothes
For these types of clothes, here’s what you need to do:
- Measure one-fourth cup of all-fabric bleach in a gallon of water.
- Soak your stained clothes for 30 minutes.
- Gently scrub the stained area.
- Rinse with water and proceed to the next step.
Black and Red Clothes
For your stained black and red clothes or anything as dark as these colors, use a trusted fabric stain remover. Just follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
Step 3 - Bleach
For this step, follow the white-clothes’ procedure on how to bleach clothes using your washer and manually.
Step 4 - Dry
Follow the same procedure used for white clothes.
How to Bleach Clothes - in Conclusion
Most, if not all, of us, consider our clothes as investments, whether or not they’re expensive or from a famous brand. They not only help us look more presentable but also keep us warm and protected from the cold, heat, and other environmental factors. Washing, dry-cleaning, and ironing your clothing properly are some of the basic things we need to do to maintain them.
Bleaching is a one-step further since it can disinfect our clothes, remove new and old stains, and renew color brightness. That is, of course, when you do it the right way. The techniques you’ve learned today for how to bleach clothes will help you gain all the benefits of bleaching your clothes without damaging them. But, do not forget to check the garment's laundry symbols or care tag.
More Washing Articles
Now you know how to bleach clothes, it is time to learn more washing techniques. Here are some related articles:
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- Types of Detergents – You Need to Know About
- How To Wash Bras – The Right Way
- How to Wash Linen – Without Damaging It
- How to Wash Pillows – The Right Way
- What Is Dry Cleaning – A Better Understanding
- Washing vs Dry Cleaning: What Are the Differences?
- How To Clean Curtains – The Right Way
- Laundry Symbols – Best Guide to Washing
- How to Wash Jeans – The Best Method
- How to Shrink Clothes – Smaller Clothes on Purpose
- TUMBLE DRY – How to Tumble Dry Correctly
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