What is Oxygen Bleach?

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oxygen bleach powder

For today’s installment of Laundry University, I get to talk about one of my favorite products: Oxygen bleach. Seriously. It’s definitely an MVP for laundry, but it also has so many other great household uses. But now I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk laundry.

Not Your Mother’s Bleach!

Traditional bleach is what we refer to as Chlorine bleach. It uses sodium hypochlorite—a highly toxic substance—as an oxidizer to break chemical bonds and release stain-causing substances. Many of us grew up in homes where chlorine bleach was the standard, not only for whitening laundry, but for cleaning just about everything. I remember every now and then I’d get an ugly orange splotch on a dark garment. This is because its color had been literally bleached out, either from an errant spill in the laundry room, or just from handling this stuff.

As it turns out, chlorine bleach—though effective in many applications—is tricky to use properly. It has to be diluted just so, it has to be added at just the right moment during the wash cycle, and depending on the makeup of the fabric, it can (ironically) yellow some white fabrics. It’s just a bummer to use—it can burn your skin, its fumes can burn your nose and throat just by breathing them, and it can release toxic fumes if mixed with other cleaning agents, such as ammonia. The way I see it, chlorine bleach is just too difficult to use, and it’s high time for an alternative. Enter, Oxygen Bleach.

The New Bleach in Town

Unlike traditional bleach, oxygen bleach uses much gentler sodium percarbonate to get the job done. When mixed with water, the simple contents break down to hydrogen peroxide—essentially water and oxygen plus sodium carbonate, or soda ash. This amazing product contains no phosphorous or nitrogen, making it a perfect eco-friendly choice. It is odorless and colorless and comes in both a liquid and powder form.

Oxygen bleach is safe to use on most fabrics except for a few very delicate ones like silk and wool.

Oxygen Bleach & Laundry

Oxygen bleach works wonders on laundry, it whitens whites and brightens colors. It’s great at  removing those tougher stains (think: wine, grease, blood) without harming the material or surface—but, be sure to test it on a hidden area first!

I also love it as a pre-treater for stains—just whip up a batch (according to the instructions) and soak the garment before washing. They also now sell oxygen-bleach stain sticks, which are a must in any laundry room. Remember, sodium percarbonate will not break down grime, so you’ll need to use it in conjunction with your regular laundry detergent.

Other Uses for Oxygen Bleach

Once you’re hooked, you’ll find that oxygen bleach is good for so many other household cleaning tasks, as well. I use it to clean my cleaning cloths and tools; such as brushes, sponges, and mop heads. Other great uses for this product include cleaning decks and siding, diaper pails and cloth diapers, and it works great as a stain remover for carpets and upholstery. I also soak toothbrushes, toilet brushes, and plungers in a hot oxygen bleach solution to sanitize them (not all together in the same solution, of course!).

Once you start using oxygen bleach around the house, you’ll find that the uses for it are nearly limitless. I don’t even keep chlorine bleach in the house anymore, and I doubt you will either.

Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.

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