Is Color-Safe Bleach Worth The Money?

Take a quick look at your outfit, or peek into your closet. What colors do you tend to purchase and wear most? Like many people, you may not reach for white very often. In 2018, only about 10.7% of dresses sold by popular retailers were in shades of white. The remaining 50.8% of dresses were in colorful shades like red, pink, blue, yellow, or gray, and 38.5% were black, via Quartz. So many people prefer to wear colors other than white, yet chlorine bleach hasn't advanced much to suit our colorful wardrobes. Pouring regular bleach on colored clothes won't just remove the stain; it'll also discolor your shirt, creating more problems than it solves. What should you do when you spill wine on your favorite blue button-up or grape juice on your toddler's pink blanket? 

When disaster strikes and your favorite colorful fabrics meet with pesky stains, you might reach for some color-safe bleach. But does color-safe bleach work? And is it worth the hefty price tag to keep it on hand? Here's everything you need to know about color-safe bleach products and how to use them effectively. 

Color-safe bleach has some benefits

Color-safe bleach is nice to have on hand, but it's not always necessary. Consumer Reports recommends that if you accidentally stain a colored item, you should first try running it through a regular wash cycle with detergent. If the stain doesn't budge, it's time to pull out something stronger, like color-safe bleach. Regular chlorine bleach uses sodium hypochlorite to lift and dissolve stains, but powerful chemicals can also strip the dye from colorful fabrics. Color-safe bleach, also known as oxygen bleach, depends on oxygen molecules to lift stains and brighten fabrics. Oxygen bleach is much gentler than chlorine bleach, so it's generally less effective at removing tough stains. However, adding color-safe bleach to your laundry can help your clothes maintain their brightness, via the American Cleaning Institute.

If you need to get stains out of colored fabrics, you can make your own color-safe stain remover solution for cheaper than most name-brand products. A helpful tutorial shared on Retro Housewife Goes Green combines 1 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide with about ½ a gallon of water. This mixture can be added directly to the washer or soak items and lift stains. For adamant taints, spray the hydrogen peroxide mixture directly onto the stain and let it soak for a few minutes before washing.

Use caution when adding any bleach

Unfortunately, the concept of color-safe bleach is an oxymoron. Even color-friendly oxygen bleach will strip dye and discolor your clothing if used too often or incorrectly. Always read and follow the label directions before dumping color-safe bleach onto your clothing. According to Clorox, not all fabrics will take well to bleach, and even color-safe bleach can ruin materials like leather, spandex, wool, silk, and mohair. If you aren't sure how your material will hold up, Clorox recommends testing the fabric by applying a drop of diluted bleach to a small corner or discreet area on the clothing, such as the armpit. 

It's also important to note that color-safe bleach won't sanitize your laundry. To sterilize items like bedsheets, you'll need to use chlorine bleach. However, most people don't need to worry about having sterile clothes, so it's unnecessary to add bleach or color-safe bleach to every load of laundry. You can still effectively remove dirt, sweat, and grime by using ordinary laundry detergent and warm water and tumble-drying your clothes. When you want to boost brightness every few weeks, that's when you can pull out the pricey stuff.