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Most bleaches found in the home contain Sodium hypochlorite.Its strength varies according to the manufacturer. Don't use sodium hypochlorite in a hot wash, as it gives off dangerous fumes in boiling water. Because chlorine can damage or destroy silk, wool, leather, elastane or resin-treated fabrics, a bleaching agent with similar properties, such as hydrogen peroxide or sulphur dioxide, should be used.


Don't overlook the natural bleaching effect of the sun on white or pale garments hung outdoors to dry. Unfortunately sunlight is not a practical solution for stained nylon or silk, which turn yellow and rot in the sun.

Use sodium perborate bleach on silk and wool or sodium hydrosulphite bleach, which is a mild bleach and safe on wool and nylon as well as on cotton and linen. Sodium hydrosulphite will also remove many stains of vegetable and animal origin. A mild bleach for removing stains from delicate fabrics can be obtained by diluting one part hydrogen peroxide with four parts water.

Here are a few alternatives that you can try to cut down on the amount of bleach that you use in your laundry:

  • You can use less bleach in your laundry but still have that great clean when using 1/2 cup of baking soda with 1/2 the amount of bleach that you usually use.

  • Adding a 1/2 cup of cream of tarter to your laundry will brighten those dingy whites white out having to use bleach.

  • Use 1/2 cup of lemon as a bleach in the laundry rinse cycle and to bleach kitchen surfaces. Also, you can wash white clothing in borax and lemon juice, and then lay flat out on the dewy lawn on a sunny morning or hang on a clothesline and let the sun help naturally dry and bleach your garments.

If you find that your white clothes often have a gray look to them it is probably that you live in an area that suffers with hard water. If you have very hard water, add cup of vinegar to your rinse water, it will help reduce the graying of your whites.

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