Many people today are trying to move away from using toxic cleaners such as bleach. They are using hydrogen peroxide instead for basic household cleaning. It is milder than bleach but has similar properties. Due to this, you may wonder, “Does hydrogen peroxide bleach clothes?”
It turns out that hydrogen peroxide is safe to use on most dyes and fabrics, as long as the dye is colorfast. It’s mild bleaching properties work well for making whites whiter and colors brighter. This makes it an effective substitute for chlorine bleach.
Hydrogen peroxide is an oxygen-based, non-chlorine bleach. Although not as powerful as chlorine bleach, it is safer for both humans and the environment because it breaks down into water and oxygen. Keep reading to learn how to use hydrogen peroxide as a bleach substitute.
Can You Use Hydrogen Peroxide in Laundry?
Like bleach, hydrogen peroxide can be used in the laundry to whiten and brighten clothes and remove stains as well. The 3% hydrogen peroxide solution sold in stores is the best kind to use in your laundry.
How Do You Use Hydrogen Peroxide in Laundry?
Instead of putting bleach in the bleach dispenser, add hydrogen peroxide instead. Putting it directly into the bleach dispenser will release the hydrogen peroxide during the laundry’s wash cycle. It will then be mixed with water.
If you don’t have a bleach dispenser, make a hydrogen peroxide solution by mixing 2 cups of water with 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide. Pour it directly into the washing machine before adding your clothes or add it after the washer has filled with water.
How Much Hydrogen Peroxide Should You Put in Laundry?
You should only use about one cup of hydrogen peroxide per load of laundry. One cup is plenty to whiten your white clothes and brighten your colored clothes.
As mentioned above, either add it to the bleach dispenser or mix it with water before running a load of laundry. Using too much hydrogen peroxide without mixing it with water could leave stains on your clothes.
Before using hydrogen peroxide on colored clothes, check them for colorfastness. Dark colors like red or navy blue tend to fade or bleed. Watch the short video below to learn how to perform a colorfast test.
If clothes aren’t colorfast, using hydrogen peroxide on them could alter the color. To see if hydrogen peroxide will affect your clothes, dip a cotton swab into the hydrogen peroxide. Turn the article of clothing inside out and dab the cotton swab on the collar or hem where any mark won’t be seen. If the color is altered, don’t wash the clothing in a load with peroxide.
Precautions You Should Take When Using Peroxide in Laundry
There are some other popular cleaners that should never be mixed with hydrogen peroxide. Doing so could be hazardous to your health. Let’s look at each of the chemicals and why you shouldn’t mix them.
Vinegar is a popular laundry additive due to its ability to remove odors from clothes and prevent dyes from bleeding. You should never mix hydrogen peroxide in a container with vinegar or add them both to the same load of laundry. Mixing them makes peracetic acid, an eye and skin irritant.
If you’re using hydrogen peroxide in the laundry, there’s no need to use chlorine bleach as well. It will not make your white clothes extra white. Chlorine bleach is stronger than hydrogen peroxide. The bleach will break down the peroxide making it ineffective.
You shouldn’t mix bleach and hydrogen peroxide in a container either. It will create a highly flammable oxygen gas, which could cause an explosion.
Some people use ammonia as a pre-laundry stain remover. Ammonia is a skin and eye irritant in itself. Mixing it with any type of bleach, chlorine or non-chlorine, can be even more dangerous.
Since hydrogen peroxide is a non-chlorine bleach, you should never mix it with ammonia. Doing so will produce a toxic gas that can cause coughing, difficulty breathing, chest pain, and even pneumonia.
How to Clean Yellow Hydrogen Peroxide Stains on Clothing
Although hydrogen peroxide can be used safely with laundry, it can sometimes leave yellow stains on white clothes. The stains aren’t difficult to remove if you spot them early. Here’s how to clean hydrogen peroxide stains on clothing.
You will need:
- A bucket
- White vinegar or commercial bleach
- A washcloth
- Dish soap
- A hard-bristled brush
Step 1- Dilute the stain.
To effectively remove the stain, you will first need to dilute it by dipping the whole clothing item into a bucket of water.
Step 2- Remove the stain.
You have two options here. You can use either white vinegar or commercial bleach to remove the stain.
Note that using vinegar or bleach to blot the stain will not be dangerous as the peroxide is already dry and nonreactive. However, you should pick one or the other. Mixing vinegar and bleach produces chlorine gas which can cause breathing problems.
If using white vinegar:
- Add about a tablespoon of vinegar to a bowl.
- Dip a corner of the washcloth into the vinegar and blot the stain.
- Let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Rinse the washcloth in cold water.
- Blot the stain again.
- Drop a couple of drops of dish soap onto the stain.
- Scrub the stain with the hard-bristled brush (such as a cleaning brush).
- Wash and dry the clothing as you normally would.
If using commercial bleach:
- Add ¼ teaspoon of commercial bleach to ½ cup of cold water.
- Dip a corner of the washcloth into the bleach and water solution.
- Blot the stain with the washcloth until the stain is gone.
- Wash and dry the clothing as normal.
Is Hydrogen Peroxide an Effective Stain Remover?
Hydrogen peroxide is a very effective stain remover for both plant-based and protein-based stains. Plant-based stains include stains from berries, other fruit juices, and vegetables. Protein-based stains are stains from blood or gravy, for example.
How Do You Use Hydrogen Peroxide to Remove Stains?
Before learning how to remove stains with hydrogen peroxide, we should note that hydrogen peroxide is light sensitive. It becomes inactive when exposed to light, which is why it comes in a brown bottle.
When using hydrogen peroxide as a stain remover, keep it in the original bottle until you are ready to use it. Follow these steps to use hydrogen peroxide to remove stains.
Step 1- Apply hydrogen peroxide to the stain.
This can be done by attaching a spray nozzle to the bottle of hydrogen peroxide. You can then spray it directly on the stain. You can also pour a small amount directly onto the stain, but it’s easy to use more than you intended to by doing it that way. Alternatively, use a cotton swab to dip and apply the peroxide to the stain.
Step 2- Let the stain soak.
The hydrogen peroxide should soak into the stain and fabric for around 10 minutes.
Step 3- Wash the clothing.
Wash the stained clothing as you normally would. This will remove the rest of the stain and the hydrogen peroxide residue.
Hydrogen Peroxide vs. Chlorine Bleach
Even though hydrogen peroxide is an effective whitener and stain remover, some people still prefer to use chlorine bleach. Is one better than the other? Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.
The hydrogen peroxide sold in stores is not only an effective laundry cleaner, it is also an effective general household cleaner. It can be used for many things that bleach can’t because it leaves no residue behind. That’s one of the many reasons that some households prefer it as an alternative to chlorine bleach.
Hydrogen peroxide is also safer than chlorine bleach. It doesn’t produce fumes, and you don’t need to wear gloves and protect your clothes and skin when using it.
Some people use hydrogen peroxide in the dishwasher as a way to disinfect dishes. Other people use it to clean heavy use surfaces, such as refrigerators, keyboards, phones, and countertops.
The downside to using hydrogen peroxide is that it doesn’t work immediately. Yes, it will kill bacteria and viruses, but you can’t just spray it and wipe it off. Peroxide needs time to sit in order to be an effective germ-killer, whitener, and stain remover.
We all know of the cleaning abilities that chlorine bleach has. It is highly effective at killing both bacteria and viruses. Unlike peroxide, it begins killing germs immediately.
Those properties make bleach a common additive to toilet, laundry, and kitchen cleaners. It can also be used as-is out of the bottle.
There are many disadvantages to using bleach, though. Bleach leaves behind a residue on anything that you use it on. The residue can transfer onto your skin and clothes, causing pain and skin irritation, and even damage clothes.
Bleach also produces chlorine gas. The fumes from chlorine gas are dangerous, especially for people with asthma or other respiratory illnesses. It can actually make symptoms worse if inhaled.
Like hydrogen peroxide, you should not mix bleach with ammonia, vinegar, and other cleaners. When mixed, the chlorine gas is even more dangerous. It can cause eye and nose irritation, breathing difficulties, and can even be deadly.
Whether you choose to use hydrogen peroxide or bleach, follow the cleaning instructions carefully. Do not mix them with other cleaning agents. You should only use them for their intended purpose: cleaning and disinfecting.
We hope that any questions you may have had about using hydrogen peroxide in your laundry were answered. If used properly, hydrogen peroxide is a very effective alternative to chlorine bleach. It is also safer. Its ability to whiten, remove stains, and disinfect make it a great all-purpose laundry cleaner.
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