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Bleaching Clothes in the Washing Machine

Here is a guide for bleaching white clothes in the washing machine to maintain their quality and brightness.
Rutuja Jathar Nov 4, 2018
Bleaching is an important task performed to retain the original shine and brightness of white clothes. White clothing is an easy prey to dust, mud, dirt, and stains. It gets dirty in absolutely no time, and so, needs more attention. Bleaching is one way to make such clothes look new, and return them to their original pristine condition.
In the past, a solution of lye and caustic alkaline was used to bleach clothes, which was proving very harmful. Later, sour milk was added to the same mixture, which softened the effects of lye on the clothes. Funny thing is that this entire process took 8 weeks. Today, many kinds of bleaches are available for the purpose of bleaching and stain removal.
Knowing exactly how the bleach works, and what its active ingredients are, is very useful. Among the many things that must be considered, first and foremost is the safety. Bleach can cause harm to both, the clothes and your hands. If chlorine bleaches are combined with ammonia and such chemicals, they can cause extremely harmful and toxic effects.
Hence, to avoid side effects of bleach on your hands, you have the handy alternative of using the washing machine for this. This way, we can get the desired effects by wasting less time and energy.


There are two basic types of bleaches, namely chlorine and non-chlorine, and both are equally good. It is important to make sure if the color and type of the fabrics can sustain bleach. It is also important to find out whether the water is reacting well with the bleach you are using.
If you are sure of these two things, then bleaching clothes in the washing machine is very easy. Here's how:
  • Get your machine ready by filling the least amount of hot/cold water (as per the requirements of the bleach), that is suitable for the amount of clothes.
  • If there is a bleaching dispenser, then add the bleach in it. If not, you can simply add it in the washer itself, after the water is filled.
  • This needs a specific direction for the amount of bleach that is to be added. For a few clothes, only ¼ cup of bleach is sufficient. For a large load, you can add 1 cupful of it.
  • While using liquid bleach for the front-loading washing machines, ½ cup of bleach is more than sufficient. 1 tablespoon of bleach is enough for a gallon of water.
  • Mix the bleach well, and then, add the washing powder.
  • Run the longest cycle possible, and make sure to reset the machine before it starts the rinse cycle.
  • Let it complete one more cycle, and then set it on the rinse mode.
  • Extract the clothes from the washer, and repeat the procedure if they are not bleached as desired.
Clothes that come with manufacturer's warnings as 'hand wash only', require bleaching by hand. There are several methods to whiten clothes without bleach as well.
The most popular one is the use of lemon juice. Lemon acts very well as bleaching agent. Soaking clothes in water that contains ample amounts of lemon juice, for more than 12 hours, can work well. After that, all you have to do is wash the clothes in the regular way, using regular laundry detergent.
Disclaimer: It is always best to read the manufacturer's instructions before bleaching clothes in a machine or however.