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How to bleach coloured clothes


Lady holding up a bright pink pair of trousers in dismay.

Very stubborn stains and discolorations sometimes appear on your clothes and to get rid of them you need something stronger than regular washing powder. That’s when you decide to reach for the bleach. But before you use it, read our tips, and learn how to bleach coloured clothes without ruining them.

How to bleach coloured clothes – Everything you should keep in mind

  1. The first and probably most important thing you should do before bleaching coloured clothes is to check the tag. Pay attention to the triangle symbol. It’ll help you determine if your clothing can be safely bleached. If there’s a simple triangle with a blank centre, it means that you can safely use regular bleach. If you see a triangle with 2 diagonal stripes in the centre on the tag, then remember to use non-chlorine bleach (also known as colour-fast bleach or oxygen bleach). Under no circumstances should you bleach your coloured clothes if there’s a triangle with an X through it on the label!
  2. Will peroxide bleach coloured clothes? Most coloured clothing can only be bleached with non-chlorine bleach.
  3. Can you bleach colored clothes? There’s a simple test you can perform that will give you the answer to this question. Apply a small amount of bleach (one drop) to a small, inconspicuous area of your clothing. Wait about three minutes and then rinse the area with water. If the area you bleached has kept its original colour, it means that you can safely use bleach on the whole garment. You should use this method even if there’s a triangle with a blank centre on the label. 
  4. Whatever you do, don’t forget to use gloves while you’re handling bleach and ventilate the area as much as possible because bleach solutions can irritate the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract.
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How to safely bleach coloured clothes

Start by separating light and dark clothing. This is something you should be doing anyway when doing laundry, but it’s especially important when you want to use bleach! After sorting your clothes, mix bleach (check the exact amount on the package) with plenty of hot water and soak your clothes for several hours. If you don’t want the bleach to make your clothes stiff, occasionally rub them with a laundry brush while soaking. 

Then put your clothes in the washing machine and select the program according to the information on the label. It’s best if you choose the highest possible temperature because the bleach will be more effective. Pour the appropriate amount of bleach (check the information on the package) into the designated space in your washing machine. Also add some washing powder and fabric softener (optional).

And that’s it! Simple, isn’t it? Now you know how to bleach coloured clothes without ruining them. Remember to always follow the instructions on the clothing label and the bleach package, and pop on some gloves for protection.

For more useful information on washing clothes, check out our articles on how to prewash, how to decipher washing machine symbols, and how to wash silk.