Are You Using Bleach Correctly in Your Washing Machine in Order to Get the Whitest Whites?
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Are You Using Bleach Correctly in Your Washing Machine in Order to Get the Whitest Whites?

Both the type of bleach you use and how you use it in your washing machine can really affect how white your laundry gets

June 28, 2021

When it comes to doing laundry, getting the whitest whites can sometimes seem like a challenge. You may be tempted to buy certain bleach products that promise superior whitening power compared to other products. Should you believe the commercials or simply stick to your laundry detergent? Getting the whitest whites really comes down to the type of bleach you use in your laundry and how you use it.

follow the directions

Mothers and grandmothers have sworn for ages about their own special bleaching mixtures and techniques, taking great care to add bleach to the laundry at the appropriate times. Times and technology have changed, so doing it the old fashioned way may no longer be the best way to get the whitest whites. Of course, it will be your job to assess your mess and choose the method that makes whites brighter based upon your situation.

As with any product, you need to pay attention to the directions on the label in order to get the desired results. Bleach is no different, and adding it at the wrong time can result in little to no whitening and possibly even damage to your clothing. Follow the instructions on the bottle and follow the washing instructions on the clothing label. Doing so should help you get a satisfactory clean without too much fuss.

Many factors impact whiteness of laundry

Several variables come into play when getting the whitest whites with each load of laundry. Water temperature probably plays one of the most critical roles. You may see better detergent washing results on newer machines since they typically add water from both the hot and cold lines in order to get a consistent starting temperature regardless of the ground water temperature. Older washers do not do this. So an older washer's cycles will depend upon the unadjusted temperature of the water coming from the water lines, which can be very cold in the coldest months of winter. You may even notice that your clothes look perfectly fine without bleach using a newer washing machine because of how the wash cycle is optimized.

getting the optimum temperature

Experts recommend a water temperature of between 120 and 125 degrees to prevent scalding and for washing on the 'hot' cycle for maximum whitening. You will have to play around with your water temperatures a little bit to find the optimum setting for you, but generally hotter is better for whitening.

Traditional water heaters should be set no lower than 122 degrees, which is necessary to stop bacterial growth in the water heater tank. If you have a compromised immune system or simply want water that is more sanitary, your heater may be set between 130 degrees and 140 degrees. Some heaters are set higher than 140 degrees, which is especially dangerous as it can burn you, can damage the seals in water fixtures, and may even damage your delicate clothing.

Other water heaters are set too low, which does not stop bacterial growth and does not have the heat necessary to dissolve tough stains. Some water heaters may be a considerable distance from the washing machine, lowering the effective temperature of the wash as the hot water cools in the trip it takes to get to the machine. Some homes may be constructed with tankless water heaters that can be adjusted at will, with some homes having a small tankless water heater set up solely for the washing machine.

the type of bleach you use matters

The type of bleach and amount used can also play a role in getting the whitest whites. Some bleaches use special polymers that prevent metals dissolved in the water, such as iron, from reacting with the bleach, causing yellow discoloration. Many generic brand bleaches lack this polymer and can't prevent discoloration of your clothes. So cheaper isn't necessarily better. When adding bleach, follow the instructions on the container and avoid the urge to overuse. More isn't always better and can damage your clothes. Make sure the clothing you are washing is safe for chlorine bleach!

use your washer's dispenser

If your washing machine has a bleach dispenser, use it. The machine will dispense bleach at the appropriate time in the wash cycle for the maximum effectiveness. Bleach should generally be added later in a washing cycle so that the detergent can do its job first without interference from the bleach and vice versa. Once the detergent does its job, the bleach can go in to attack the tough stains at the proper time and the proper temperature.

detergents also play a role

Detergents and agitation also play a role in the effectiveness of bleach. Some detergents work much better than others. Others do not dissolve properly, leading to poor cleaning results. Some even have enzymes to dissolve soils and prevent them from re-depositing on your clothes, which may be able to give you results good enough that you don't need bleach at all. Using bleach with a good detergent will do much better than using bleach with a cut rate detergent.

regular use can be best

Finally, regular use of bleach can give you a better quality of whites than the occasional bleacher. If you only bleach infrequently, you might notice that your clothing isn't as white as it can be and that it might take extensive washing to make it look better, if it's even possible. If you aren't using bleach regularly on clothes that you want to stay white, they may suffer staining between washes that becomes impossible to remove.

product testing

This article has mentioned using better quality ingredients, such as bleach or detergent. NCCC has not tested these products, but Consumer Reports has tested them at great length. Their testing can help you decide what types of bleaches and detergents you may wish to try.