How to bleach white cotton fabrics

Updated February 21, 2017

White cotton is an ideal material for clothes, bedding and linens because it can be easily bleached to keep it gleaming white for years. But if you really want to keep your whites sparkling, it pays to consider your bleaching method carefully. Some may not bleach fabrics very effectively and others may be overly harsh. Learn this method that is both exceptionally effective and gentle.

In a medium sized plastic dustbin, combine 1 gallon of hot water, 1 cup of dry automatic dishwasher soap and 1/3 cup of bleach. Stir the mixture several times with a large plastic spoon.

Add dirty white cotton clothes, bedding and linens to the mixture in small batches. Allow the fabrics to soak in the mixture, but do not agitate them.

After a batch has soaked for half an hour, remove it from the bath and put it in the washing machine immediately. Add some washing powder and wash the fabrics as usual as a small load. Soak the next batch while the first batch is washing if you have more fabrics to bleach.

When the washing machine reaches the rinse cycle, pour in 2/3 cup of white vinegar. Allow the load to finish rinsing as usual.

When the load in the washing machine has finished rinsing, transfer it to the dryer and dry it on medium heat. Move the soaking clothes into the washing machine after they have soaked for half an hour and repeat the entire process as necessary until all of the fabrics have been bleached, washed and dried.


If you need to soak more than three batches, dump out and remix the bleach mixture after every third batch.


Do not mix the bleach mixture in a metal container. Do not bleach non-white fabrics.

Things You'll Need

  • Medium sized plastic dustbin
  • 1 gallon of hot water
  • 1 cup of dry automatic dishwasher soap
  • 1/3 cup of bleach
  • Large plastic spoon
  • Washing machine
  • 2/3 cup of white vinegar
  • Washing powder
  • Dryer
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