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Oxygen Bleach and Chlorine Bleach: How to Use Bleach in Your Laundry

What exactly is oxygen bleach, and how is it different from the bleach you would use in household cleaning? Is bleach safe to use in the laundry? Will it damage my family’s clothes? Surf excel Matic wants to help Matic Mums understand these questions, so we’ve prepared this handy guide to how to use bleach in the washing machine in addition to your regular Surf excel detergent.

Some types of bleach are more suitable for certain fabrics and colours, so it's good to know which products to use on different garments. Mums, here is a simple guide of the two main types of bleach – oxygenated bleach and chlorine bleach – and how to use them in your wash.

Oxygen Bleach

What is oxygen bleach?

  • Otherwise known as sodium percarbonate, oxygenated bleach is a mixture of baking powder and hydrogen peroxide, which is a colour-safe bleaching agent. Oxygen bleach works by reacting with water, producing bubbles that work to dislodge dirt and stains on clothing.
  • Because oxygen bleach dissolves into water without leaving an odour or any chemical residue behind, it is eco-friendly. This also makes it an appealing product for families with small children!

How do I use oxygen bleach on my clothes?

  • Oxygenated bleach won't bleed or fade colours, so it can be used to wash a variety of different coloured fabrics and even patterned materials, including cotton, linen, and synthetics.
  • However, materials like silk and wool should not be bleached; instead, look for a stain remover specially designed for use on delicate materials.
  • Oxygen bleach usually comes in the form of powder, and can be bought from most household stores. Follow the directions on the label when adding this product to your wash. Add half a cup to the machine drawer in a normal load of whites or coloured fabrics to preserve the brightness and prevent staining. You can add more for heavier stains.
  • If you have a serious stain that needs removing, oxygen bleach can also be used to pre-soak items of clothing. Again, it’s best to follow the directions on the label. Add half a cup to 4 litres of warm water and soak for an hour to get rid of light to moderate stains, or add up to a cup and soak for overnight for really stubborn marks. Rinse and wash with your normal Surf excel Matic detergent in the washing machine.

Chlorine Bleach

What is chlorine bleach?

  • Chlorine bleach is the standard liquid bleach that you might find in the household cupboard. Made of sodium hypochlorite and water, chlorine bleach is effective at stain removal on white fabrics as it produces oxygen when in contact with water, which in turn gets to work on the discolouration in the fabric.
  • Chlorine bleach is a household staple for a reason – it's a highly-effective disinfectant, killing bacteria and cleaning things like mildew, too. However, it's also a strong chemical, so it's important to be aware of health and safety issues, especially around young children or those with sensitive skin. Always wear gloves when handling chlorine bleach, and work in a well-ventilated area.

How do I use chlorine bleach on my clothes?

  • Chlorine bleach can be used on cotton, polyester, rayon, and other blended fabrics. You should avoid using it on coloured or printed clothes, as well as wool and silk, but it can be really effective at cleaning and brightening whites and, of course, getting rid of germs!
  • Before using bleach on clothes, always look at the care labels on your garments. Garments that can be bleached will have the ‘Bleach’ symbol. If you see the symbols for ‘Do Not Bleach’ or ‘No Chlorine Bleach’, then do not use bleach on these garments.
  • Never pour bleach straight onto the fabric; instead, use a diluted mix of 1 cup or capful of bleach in 1 litre of warm water, then dispense into your normal washing cycle. If you have a semi-automatic washing machine, you can add the bleach 5 minutes into the wash cycle to allow the enzymes in your Surf excel Matic laundry detergent to start working on the clothes.
  • You can also use chlorine bleach to soak clothes prior to washing: just place 1 tablespoon of bleach in 4 litres of warm water and mix thoroughly before adding the clothes. Soak for 15 minutes, then rinse and wash as normal. Whichever type of bleach you're using, never mix different kinds of bleach together, and always test the product in a discreet area of the fabric first to be sure your clothes won't be marked.

When used safely and correctly, both oxygen bleach and chlorine bleach are extremely useful products to have around, especially when you have active kids who keep those laundry loads coming, but remember that most stains can be easily removed with a mild detergent like Surf excel Matic!