When Washing Whites Can You Use Bleach & Detergent?

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Brighten whites with bleach and laundry detergent.

White clothes and laundry sometimes become stained or dingy over time. Laundry detergent alone may not be enough to get the items clean. Chlorine bleach can be used in conjunction with laundry detergent to get your whites clean and bright. Use bleach and detergent together in the right way to ensure your clothes come out clean and white without damaging the fabric.


The Facts

Bleach and laundry detergent combined get your clothes clean. Although detergent can be used alone, bleach enhances the cleaning power. While the detergent works to clean your laundry, bleach whitens whites, disinfects and helps remove tough stains. These two products work as a team; the bleach breaks down the stains and grime so the detergent can clean them away.


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What to Wash

Bleach and detergent can be combined and used to wash a number of items. White and light colored fabrics, as well as colorfast fabrics, can be washed with bleach and detergent. Dish towels, T-shirts, white socks, bath towels, bed linens and tablecloths are just some of the items you can wash in bleach and detergent combined. It's always best to check the label on the item to see if chlorine bleach is acceptable for that fabric type.


How to Use in Top-Loading Washers

Set the washer to the appropriate temperature setting for what you are washing. Usually, items that can be bleached can be washed in hot water. Start filling the washer with water and while it's filling, add no more than 1 cup of liquid bleach. Refer to the label for specific measurements for the load size you are washing. Once the washer is almost full with water, add the recommended amount of detergent, then add your laundry.


How to Use in Front-Loading Washers

Front-loading washers are equipped with detergent and bleach dispensers. Fill the detergent dispenser with the appropriate amount of detergent, then the bleach dispenser with the right amount of bleach. Most dispensers have a maximum fill line for both detergents and bleach. However, adjust the amounts you are using according to the load size and label instructions. Don't use more than 1/2 cup bleach in a front-loading washer. Put the laundry in the machine, set it to the appropriate wash and temperature settings and let the washer run through a complete cycle. The washer automatically dispenses the detergent and bleach at the appropriate times.



Not all fabric types and colors can safely be bleached. Test the fabric first to check for color changes or damage. Mix 1/4 cup water with 2 tsp. of bleach. Put a small drop to an inconspicuous part of the fabric. Wait about one minute, then blot the area with a rag. If no changes in color or damage occur, bleach is safe to use. Silk, leather, spandex, wool and mohair are some fabrics that should never be exposed to chlorine bleach. Always run the laundry through a rinse cycle so the bleach doesn't weaken the fabric.



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