Can You Put Bleach Directly On Clothes?

We know bleach has disinfecting and brightening properties, but how best should we use it in laundry? Pour it directly on the surface of clothes? Would that work better than any other method possible? 

Do not put bleach directly on clothes, it can ruin the integrity of the fabric and cause discoloration of certain areas. Always add beach directly to the wash water, or dilute it with water according to the manufacturer’s measurement and then soak clothes inside the solution afterwards. 

Another option you have is to use the bleach dispenser that came with the washer (if yours have it). Simply pour the bleach solution into the dispenser up to the recommended line, close the drawer and the washer door and let the magic begin from there.

Below you’ll learn all the do’s and don’ts concerning using bleach in the laundry.

How to correctly use bleach in laundry

Use chlorine bleach on white clothes only

Chlorine-based bleach is meant to be used only on white clothes to make them whiter. 

If you use it on fabrics that are colored, you’ll discover some discoloration afterwards which is a sign of reaction between the fabrics and the chemical of the bleach. This is the same technique that is used in Tie & Dye to achieve beautiful patterns on clothes.

When using chlorine bleach to whiten clothes, avoid applying it directly to the surface of the fabric as it will damage the fabric. 

First dilute the bleach in any temperature of water, preferably cold since it doesn’t carry steam that you can inhale, and thereafter submerge the clothes in the solution. 

If it’s in the washer, add the wash water, then the bleach as per manufacturer’s instructions. Soak clothes for as long as required before washing them. 

Or, you can add in detergent, water and clothes and then run a cycle, then add in bleach 5 to 10 minutes after the cycle has begun. 

It is best to use powdered detergents when removing soiling on white clothes and also when trying to brighten them. They work better than liquid or pod detergents! 

Test on an inconspicuous area

Before using bleach on clothes, test it on an inconspicuous area of the cloth to verify that the bleach is safe to use on the fabric. You want to take this medium to also check the fabric care label.

If it says do not bleach, drop the bottle of bleach in your hand and head for the laundry product aisle of your nearest supermarket for an alternative. 

On the other hand, if it says that the fabric is safe for bleaching, then go ahead with the test. 

Use the inside part of your clothes like the seam, hem, cuff for the experiment. Apply a drop of diluted bleach onto the area. Use 2 teaspoons of bleach to 1/4 cups of water for the dilution.

Wait for about two minutes, and then rinse the area thoroughly to remove as much bleach solution as you can. Dry, and inspect the area for any color changes. Notice anything funny? Steer clear of using bleach on that cloth.

Use color safe bleach on colors

Whenever you’re dealing with colored clothes that you wish to disinfect, colored bleach is the safest bet. Although you still have to conduct a spot test to determine their colorfastness and also reactivity to the bleach. 

Non-chlorine or color safe bleaches are great alternatives to chlorine bleach and pad in the gap it creates when it comes to washing colored garments. 

Non-chlorine bleach works to brighten, whiten, and also disinfect your clothes!

Use bleach with the heavy-duty settings of your washer for efficient and satisfactory stain removal

Typically, when trying to achieve stain removal on clothes, especially white clothes, the norm is to adopt a heavy duty setting in the washer: for example, hot for the water temperature, addition of aggressive laundry products like bleach and tough boosters, and opting for the heaviest and longest wash cycle possible— so long the care label of the fabric(s) permit! 

This will ensure that you’re getting the optimal cleaning you’re seeking for as all these will combine to tackle the stain on a micro and macro level!

Soak clothes in bleach to disinfect them

Bleach isn’t only meant to tackle stains on clothes and make garments to appear whiter or brighter. You can also disinfect using bleach, especially chlorine bleach, and that is in fact one the most important uses of bleach in laundry, (if not). 

To disinfect clothes using bleach, you want to create a solution of bleach and water as per manufacturer’s instructions or recommendations, and either in the washer or a big bucket, then soak in the clothes and allow them to sit for about 5 to 10 minutes. Next, launder using hot water (in a machine) or warm water (by hand) and a quality detergent.

How about other laundry products?

Fabric softener?

Fabric softeners are rinse cycle products, meaning that you must add them during the rinse cycle of a laundry session. Dispensers are there to assist you with that, but if you must add them by yourself, add them to the water pocket in your rinse cycle and avoid adding them directly to the surface of your clothes. 

Liquid sanitizers?

Like fabric softener, liquid sanitizer should be added during the rinse cycle. And when adding it, you can either use the fabric softener compartment or do it manually by targeting water pockets to avoid direct contact with the fabrics.

Laundry boosters?

Laundry boosters include baking soda, bleach, vinegar, and water softeners. When using these in laundry, you’re normally required to add them to the wash water before beginning a wash cycle. So add them the way you’d add liquid detergent to the washer. (See below)


When adding detergents, you can add them directly to the drum prior to filling up water and putting in clothes, or to the wash water directly. An alternative is to use the liquid detergent dispenser provided somewhere at the top of the machine for automatic dispensing.

Take note however, that if you’re using pods, you’ll have to add them to an empty drum first, before running a cycle. This is the only way you can use pods in the washing machine.

Final Thoughts

Bleach can be used on clothes to disinfect, remove stains, and also to brighten and whiten them. But before you’re able to achieve all these objectives, you have to make sure you’re using it the right way, as improper usage will result in damage or discolored fabric.

The best way to add bleach to clothes is directly to the wash water, the drum or into the detergent dispenser of your washer.