Can You Put Bleach In The Washer With Colors?

It’s a common scenario to have colored clothes stained at home. But if all you have at the moment is bleach, should you go ahead and use it to remove the stains and spots? Will it work or will it ruin the colors on the fabric? 

You can put bleach in the washing machine together with colored clothes, but you have to make sure it’s not chlorine bleach, as that can discolor the fabric and ruin it’s aesthetic appeal. The right kind of bleach to use on colored fabrics are the non-chlorine bleach as they are mostly color safe. 

Below, you’ll learn more on using non-chlorine bleach to brighten and remove stains from colored clothes. You’ll also learn an interesting way to use chlorine bleach instead of using it on colored clothes — to disinfect your washing machine! 

Chlorine bleach? Don’t do it! Non-chlorine bleach? Go ahead!

Chlorine bleach is superb for making whites appear whiter and disinfecting and removing stains on clothes. When it comes to its versatility in the laundry however, chlorine bleach has a limited application. 

Not many colored fabrics can actually withstand the base constituent of chlorine bleach which is sodium hypochlorite, and if the garment actually came from a reputable brand, it should have a warning ditched out on the care label that clearly states “Do Not Bleach”. 

When used in colored clothes that are not color-fast to it, chlorine bleach can discolor them and ruin their appearance completely.

So as far as chlorine bleach is concerned, you should never use it in the washing machine with colored clothes, especially when you’re quickly doing a bunch of them in the washer.

The best advice would be to go through each and every fabric care label on individual clothes and check for issued out warning, or to test each and every cloth for color fastness to chlorine bleach, and when you’re sure that each one of them is colorfast, then you can go ahead and apply the bleach to the entire laundry and wash it.

Doing so, you’ll be able to achieve brightly colored clothes, stain removal, and a perfectly disinfected laundry.

Here’s how to do a quick spot test to determine whether or not your colored clothes are colorfast. You want to isolate an inconspicuous area of the colored cloth and pour a drop of chlorine bleach on there, then allow it to sit for at least 5 minutes and rinse with cold water. 

Dry the fabric completely and inspect for any color changes. If you notice any fading or discoloration, steer clear of washing the clothes with chlorine bleach.

If the colored cloth is one with many patterns of colors, or with a complicated make, I would advise you ditch using bleach on it. While one part might be color fast, another part might not, and that can end up causing a huge problem later on. 

The non-chlorine bleach

When it comes to removing stains and brightening laundry items, chlorine bleach is only one part of the story. The other part is the non-chlorine bleach. 

They are bleaches made with a different constituent than chlorine bleaches and most of them are perfectly safe to use on colored fabrics. 

One thing I absolutely love about them, is that they can actually be used together with laundry detergent in the laundry dispenser, unlike chlorine bleach that needs a separate box to contain and dispense it in the course of the laundry.

A typical example of non-chlorine bleach that is safe to use on colored fabric are those from Clorox, specifically the Clorox 2® line that comes in either liquid, powder or pack form.

These products would not discolor or fade colored fabrics, but instead, would help remove stains on them, remove soiling and also brighten your colors. It can also give disinfecting properties too. 

Despite all the positive hype around non-chlorine bleach, you still want to check the product label first to see which clothes you should apply it on, check the clothing label, and also test it in an inconspicuous area of the clothing first before applying it to make sure you’re not soaking up your clothes to later ruin them.

While non-chlorine bleach is generally safe to use on most colored clothes, there are still some delicate clothing that would react negatively to it. It would typically be written on the clothing to avoid putting any kind of bleach on it.

How to use non-chlorine bleach on colored clothes

Check the product label and the cloth label

What does it say on the product label? That it can be used on any type of clothing, or most with some few exceptions, like delicate clothings? What does it also say on the clothing label? That you use a color-safe bleach, or avoid soaking them up in any type of bleach?

These are critical things you need to know first before ever attempting to use bleach on your clothes. It doesn’t matter what the product label says, whatever your clothing labeling says is all that matters, and what overrides any other thing, so pay close attention to that. 

Do a spot test

I can never overemphasize this. Even though your non-chlorine bleach has the reputation of being compatible with most types of colored clothes, the safest course of action is always to do a spot treatment first. 

So go ahead and do it exactly like we outlined earlier. And only proceed when you are completely sure that the fabric is colorfast to your non-chlorine bleach. 

Pre-treat tough stains, then launder

If you have tough stains on your colored clothes, you should start by treating them with the bleach first, especially when you’re using a high efficiency washing machine. 

Apply the product directly to the stained area and rub it in, then leave for some minutes, but do not allow it to dry. Make sure you heed to all safety precautions on the product label when using bleach. 

Launder as usual using a small quantity of the non-chlorine bleach. Make sure you add the laundry detergent together with the non-chlorine bleach to the wash water first before you add the clothes in. You can use the detergent dispenser for both products at the same time. Don’t use the bleach dispenser however, it might have remnants of chlorine bleach in there. Bleach dispensers are meant to hold bleach and nothing else!

Check for stained spots, then repeat if necessary

After you’re done with washing, you want to inspect the clothes to check for any stains that have refused to go out, repeat the pre-treatment and washing steps from above until you achieve perfectly clean clothes, or at least, have done your best. 

This step is very critical before drying because if you put clothes in the dryer when they have stains on them, the stains can move deeper into the fibers and become permanent. 


After you’re sure you’ve gotten rid of all the stains on the clothes, you can go ahead and put the clothes in the dryer.

What can you use chlorine bleach on?

To disinfect your washing machine

Chlorine bleach is an excellent sanitizer and disinfectant. You can use it in your washing machine to achieve disinfection, just like you would also use Zolfora. It will also help you to get rid of grime and gunk build up, and also bad odor. 

To learn how to disinfect your washing machine using bleach and other types of disinfectants, you can read what we wrote about that below. 

To disinfect your floors

You can also use chlorine bleach to disinfect your floors, but I wouldn’t recommend using it to disinfect “working surfaces” like those you put food on or those you constantly have your hands on. 

For these surfaces, use products that are specifically meant for that type of disinfection, like Zoflora.

Disinfecting your floors with bleach is pretty easy. Use 8 ounces of bleach in 1 gallon of water in a bucket, then soak a clean mop stick in there. Wring well and use that to rub against the floor.

To remove stains from white clothes

Chlorine bleach may not be safe to use on every colored clothes, but with whites,  the story is different. Feel free to use chlorine bleach with all-whites having stains, but make sure you’re soaking them first as per product instructions, typically some few minutes first, before adding in a laundry detergent to avoid destroying the whiteners and enzymes present in the detergent. 

Final Thoughts

Do not use chlorine bleach in the washing machine with colored clothes. It has the potential to discolor the clothes and ruin their finishing especially when these clothes are not colorfast. 

If you want to achieve sanitation or disinfection of your colored clothes, the best route to go is non-chlorine bleach. These also have sanitization power, and at the same time are safe to use on most colored clothes.