27 answers

How to Bleach Whites....

I have used bleach sparingly over the years, but I must not be using it right. I always seem to get "yellow" stains on my whites. Does anyone have any pointers on how to get whites white with bleach - with two boys, I am constantly having to get out stains. Thanks in advance for any advice.

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I don't use bleach. I use OxoBrite, non-chlorine bleach, Borax, baking soda, and / or Blueing. I've gotten much better results that way. Even old stains have really lifted after soaking in a blend of water and the above.

1 mom found this helpful

Not about bleach but...I've had a lot of luck removing stains (even old stains) with Shout Advanced Gel (smaller blue bottle). The best part is you can spray it on then let it sit in the laundry for up to a week. I think it works much better than the Spray & Wash Stain Stick that also claims you can treat and wash latter. I also use Oxy Clean in the wash. That's helped a lot too since there's always those spots you don't catch to pre-treat.

Oxy Clean is the most amazing stuff!!!! I have a 2 yr son, so stains happen quite often. I use the powder in the washer and the spray for stains. The spray is the ultimate because you can spray a stain at night, and usually it'll be GONE the next morning!!!!!!!!

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Hi there,
I used to work at Clorox many moons ago. A few bleach pointers:

1. If you are not using Clorox bleach, make sure that your store brand is from a very reliable store -- one that cares a great deal about having a quality reputation. Some store bleaches are just fine, while others have random stuff in them (not listed on the label; particles get in during manufacture and/or packaging).

2. Whatever bleach you use, measure out the amount the label says to use for laundry. Many people achieve sub-optimal results because they do not use enough bleach.

3. If your washing machine does not have a special resevoir for adding bleach separately from detergent, do not add the bleach at the same time as the detergent. Wait for the washer to fill with water first (thankfully, most front-loaders have a special resevoir that releases bleach at the appropriate time).

4. The quality of your detergent matters, too. Bleach is most effective when used with high quality detergent. Never run a load with bleach alone. It is not nearly as effective.

5. Don't overload the washing machine. If items are packed in too tightly, neither the detergent nor the bleach can do their jobs if they don't have room to work.

6. Make sure the whites you are washing say that using bleach is ok (check the tag). If the tag only has symbols and not words, look for an triangle that is a black outline but not filled in with black or stripes. Do note, though, that 100% cotton and most sythetics can handle bleach, even if the tag says that it cannot. From the Clorox website (and they cannot just lie about this stuff; other companies would be all over them):

Myth:
If a label says a garment cannot be bleached, do not bleach it.

Fact:
Almost all cotton whites and most synthetic whites are safe to treat with liquid bleach. If a label on your whites instructs not to use bleach, test it out on a hidden area (A bleachability test can be found on the back label or on drlaundryblog.com). If there is no visible effect, it can be bleached. This is also true for many printed and colored fabrics.

Ok -- just from me again, now: Be sure not to add the bleach directly to the item but rather to the water (even if it will touch the now wet item --that's okay), as I've already mentioned.

I'm not sure what is causing the yellowing, especially if you are using Clorox. Possible contaminants in bargain bleaches could be an issue, though many bargain bleaches are fine, just not all. I just looked at the Clorox website, and it shows several new products since I worked there. One is a cold water bleach. If you are using cold water, perhaps this product will work better for you. Again, I no longer work there, so I'm not sure. The website does not appear to claim that this product whitens better in cold water than regular Clorox (just better than detergent alone). It "allows" you to get great whitening in cold water, though I have no recollection of regular Clorox *not* allowing this. Finally, make sure you are using the right amount of bleach. Perhaps you are using too little, and stains are being lifted but not all the way, leaving yellow stains. However, do not use more bleach than is recommended per load. You are better off running these items through the wash a second time with the correct amount of bleach (before drying them, as drying sets in stains). I hope this helps!

5 moms found this helpful

I don't use bleach. I use OxoBrite, non-chlorine bleach, Borax, baking soda, and / or Blueing. I've gotten much better results that way. Even old stains have really lifted after soaking in a blend of water and the above.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi, First of all I NEVER use off brands, only Clorox. I have 4 boys so I understand. If there is a spot on something, I put a tiny bit on that spot for only a few minutes then throw it in with the rest of the items to be bleached. One time I bought some off brand and never did it again. When clorox is on sale, I buy a few. It always works for me.
Good Luck

Clorex II

Blessings.....

I love the Shout stain stick.
But did you know HARD WATER makes whites dingy like that over time?
I hate bleach, use it sparingly. But try running the washer full of bleach water and swishing it a bit, THEN add clothes, and let them sit/soak a bit b4 cycles. Things that are not 100% cotton should not be handled this way.

Oxy Clean is the most amazing stuff!!!! I have a 2 yr son, so stains happen quite often. I use the powder in the washer and the spray for stains. The spray is the ultimate because you can spray a stain at night, and usually it'll be GONE the next morning!!!!!!!!

Hi Maria! I work for a wellness company that has an ecosense laundry line that i absolutly love! It is safe for your whole family (newborns and up). I have been using it for 1 1/2 months. I have a husband and a 2 year old son that likes to get dirty. they have a melabrite that replaces your bleach, i have noticed that my whites are brighter, the prespot treater took blue ink and food grease stains our of my white tablecloth, and the 96 oz detergent does 192 loads. Its awesome. Plus there is a 60 day empty bottle money back guarantee! If you are interested in learning more please email me and i would be happy to share the info with you.
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I find that is I put the bleach directly in the water as the washer is filling and let it start to wash one or two turns of the agetator, the add the clothes, you do not get the yellow stains. Has worked for me for 30 years.

Well this may not completely answer your question, but is an alternative...use OxyClean. I had to stop using bleach becasue of an allergy and I use OxyClean along with detergent to wash my whites and they look great. Sometimes I will let the clothes soak for a while too if they are especially dirty.

Hello Maria,

I can understand how disappointing it is to wash whites and still get those yellow stains on it!
I used to feel the same way, until a friend of mine suggested this pre-wash and bleach combination to me.
It is dermatologist and allergist tested and dissolves completely in all water temperatures.It is also phosphate-free.
Check out http://rpalnitkar.qhealthzone.com/Products/Thumbnail.aspx...

and check ou the "SA8® TRI-ZYME® Stain Pre-Soak and Detergent Booster" listed in there.You could also use the "SA8® All Fabric Bleach" alongwith it.

It works best for me, so thought could help you too.What more you can order it onlne and gets shipped to your doorstep.!

Cheers,
G.

Add a capful of Zout to each laundry load along with bleach. I also use it with my colors to keep them bright. Zout is a stain remover / fabric brightner and works great!

Hi Maria-
If there aren't a ton of stains, take a cotton ball or q-tip and dip in bleach to spot treat. I am always worried that I will bleach something that isn't white, so I stopped using regular bleach a long time ago. Instead I use clorox 2 for everything- colors and whites- and if there is an intense stain, I pretreat it with a small glob of the clorox 2 (blue bottle with orange cap).
ANother non bleach suggestion is soilove. A green bottle. My mother swears by it and so do I. ANd for a more citrus approach, de-solve it is great, too.
I hope this helps!
-E.

Hi - I hardly ever use chlorine bleach anymore. I get much better results from oxygen bleaches. For a little extra punch you can add baking soda. Borax also works well.

Wow, thank you so much to Karen G.!! I learned a lot from that very complete primer on bleach! I have one other tip: I wait until the clothes (w/ detergent) have agitated for at least 5 minutes, then I add the bleach, diluted with water. Let the machine agitate again for 5 minutes, and then if your whites are very soiled, stop the machine and let the clothes soak in the bleach/detergent water for 10-20 minutes. Do you double-rinse? If not, I recommend doing so. Sometimes there is residue left on the clothes with insufficient rinsing. Oh, and one final tip: save your white clothes until you get a big enough batch, and then do a HOT wash with the bleach. Hope all this helps.

Not about bleach but...I've had a lot of luck removing stains (even old stains) with Shout Advanced Gel (smaller blue bottle). The best part is you can spray it on then let it sit in the laundry for up to a week. I think it works much better than the Spray & Wash Stain Stick that also claims you can treat and wash latter. I also use Oxy Clean in the wash. That's helped a lot too since there's always those spots you don't catch to pre-treat.

If your whites are made of a synethic blend and not 100% cotton, bleach will leave yellow spots. Shout works better on blends.
MK

When my kids were younger and I used a lot of bleach, their clothes also turned yellow. I was told that it was because cheap, generic bleach. I tried the more expensive name brands and my clothes did stay whiter. I haven't used a generic bleach since.

Dear Maria,
When I first moved to my little town, everyone warned me about the water. They said it was the worst water in the world. I figured okay...we won't drink it. How bad could it be after it was boiled, etc? Two things happened almost immediately. My daughter made the mistake of giving the water to our bird and it died within two days. The other is that I put my favorite white terry bath robe in with some bleach and it came out looking as though I had dragged it around behind the car on every dirt road and through every mud hole I could find. It was completely ruined. There was apparently too much iron in the water from the pipes or whatever. Using bleach was completely off limits. But, someone told me about a product, I believe it's called Iron-out, that they sold at the grocery store to help combat that problem. I never trusted it, but other people swore by it. They have since replaced the pipes and water system and we can all use bleach with no worries.
I always let the wash tub fill up a bit and add the bleach so it can dilute, then I add the laundry. There's another thing they sell at our little grocery store, it's Mrs. Smith's Bluing, or something like that. It brightens whites. Adding 20 Mule Team Borax to you laundry and letting it soak for a while before finishing the wash cycle is great for stains too.

I tried many different pre-wash stain removers, including Oxy-Clean, and none of them worked to my satisfaction. Then someone recommended Spray & Wash Max with Resolve. You have to get exactly that one (it's a red bottle). Regular S&W doesn't work. Good luck!

OXY Clean - that stuff is amazing!

I used to have that problem years ago and started add the bleach after the water poured in. If you are pouring it directly on the clothes that will cause the yellow stains. I also have started using OXY Clean in place of bleach sometimes because it is not as toxic smelling and does a good job getting stains out. Having 2 boys myself I know where you are coming from.

Hi Maria,
When the full strength bleach comes in contact with whites, it can yellow them. I turn the water on in the washer, add the soap and the bleach. Then I add the clothes. Also, warm or hot water seems to be a must with bleach and dirt.
Good luck!

Could be off-brand bleach, pouring it directly on the fabric (a big no-no), chemical reaction with a pre-existing stain (as in sweat), something in your washer (once washed clothes at a laundromat on vacation, took 6-7 washings at home to remove what looked like rust stains). Also, whites get dingy over time not only from hard water but because most of us use TOO MUCH detergent. You don't have to have bubbles or lots of suds to get your clothes clean. Even using just under the recommended amount will be fine. OR rinse twice.

Hi! Considering I have had the GREAT opportunity to have my kids play in RED dirt, which is hard to remove, I have learned a lot about bleach. For those of you that know, RED dirt is no easy task. In addition, I have noticed that white shirts would only yellow where sweat might have been (under the arms). So, with that said, this is what I do to remove the RED dirt and keep my white items, white. I begin filling up the washer, add my soap, my bleach, and then about a 1/2 of cup of simple green. It seems to work great! I have also used the oxyclean in the past when I am out of bleach...that works too. Good luck!!!!

Something to remember that some whites are dyed to be white and fade like any other fabric. Sometimes just buying a box a white dye and run it through the wash will do the trick.
Good luck.

Hi Maria,

I have 3 kids myself and are constantly trying to get stains out. What has really worked well for me is Oxy Clean. I put it in a big bucket of hot water (not boiling, because you don't want to shrink the clothes) and I leave it overnight. If the stains do not come out completely overnight I empty the bucket and do it again. I have had old stains come out of wash cloths (that we use for the kids faces and hands after eating) and even clothes that my friend gave me and that she had washed again and again.

Hope this helps ;o)

Hi Maria - Another thought if you are looking for a non-toxic stain remover. Biokleen Bac-out works really well to remove stains. You can find it at Whole Foods and health food stores. I love it. I've used it to remove oil, red ball point pen, blood and baby poo. Good luck.D.

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