Bleaching white linens etc

Time to stock up on a few spare sets of linens/towels as our busy season sets in. This time I’ve gone for white everything on the advice that stains can be easily removed using bleach. It’s just occurred to me though that I have no idea how to do it… can anyone help please?
Do I soak the whole thing and then wash as normal? Just put bleach on the stained spot? Or add bleach to the washer and run a normal cycle?
And do I just use regular household bleach or is there a special one for laundry?

Thanks in advance for any help!

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I am by far NOT a laundry expert. I was going to start a thread about how to properly use Woolite. But this is what I do with laundry (when bleach is involved):

I have a regular top load machine where I pour the detergent in. There might be a slot to add stuff…can’t really remember. But since I am not confident with my methods (I don’t use that) - I just pour the detergent into the machine like I did as a kid.

So…if I need to bleach a load of towels/whites, etc - I NEVER put the laundry in BEFORE the bleach has mixed all up with the detergent.

For example: I have my load and want to bleach it. Depending how nasty the stains look…I may pre-treat with Shout spray, or I may rub Woolite into the stain with my fingers. Then I start the washing machine, turn the temperature on hot, and then I select small (even if it is a large load). I don’t even know if you need to use hot water with bleach…does anyone know?

Once the water level reaches the “small” cycle setting…the water will start spinning in the machine. This is when I add the detergent and bleach. Sometimes I add Woolite too, if the stains are really bad. Then again…not really sure what I am doing. But I have all of them mixing around for a good 20 seconds or so.

Then if it’s a medium or large load…I will turn the cycle setting to medium or large. Now the machine is filling up with more water, but at least the bleach and detergents are mixed up together. Sometimes they all turn a reddish color. Then I start to fill the washer with laundry while the water is filling. After I am done, I close the lid. I check stains before putting in the dryer, as the dryer heat will set stains in. Sometimes you may need to wash items twice.

The one thing you don’t want to do is put your laundry in the wash first, and then start splashing bleach around (like you might with detergent). This will leave your laundry spotted in every place the bleached touched. I think with whites, the bleach spots will be yellow.

Neither am I but when I’m removing the bedlinens and putting used towels into the laundry basket, I use Oxyclean spray on any marks. Then I fill the washing machine (top loader) with water (cold) add probably about a half cup of regular bleach, add laundry liquid, set the machine going for a minute to mix everything, then add the linens/towels. That does the job 99% of the time.

Occasionally, if something is very dirty, I just repeat the process but that’s very rare.

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Is a half a cup of for large loads? I wonder how many capfuls of bleach that is?

Any idea if Oxyclean spray is waaaay better than Shout? I don’t even know that Shout really does anything. But I know rubbing Woolite on stuff with my hands seems to do the trick. If Oxyclean works great then I may just switch to that. Can you buy it at the regular grocery store?


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I pretreat any stains. When I had a blood stain I used hydrogen peroxide on it then rinsed and treated again until the stain was almost gone before I put it in the machine with oxyclean and detergent. I had a tattoo ink stain that I pretreated with Genesis 950 and washed. After one wash the stained area was still a light yellowish area so I treated again with spray and wash and washed it again and included chlorine bleach and it came out good as new.

I have a front loader so can’t add anything after a cycle has started. So it sounds like I should pre-treat (we have ‘vanish’ spray here but it doesn’t do a fantastic job on its own) then add a mixture of half regular detergent and half household bleach to a normal wash cycle. does that sound about right?

To be honest, half a cup is a guess because I just pour a dollop in directly from the bottle :slight_smile: And yes, this is for a large load. I find that two loads does the trick for me - one to do the whites and the other to do the coloured fabrics.

The current towels and bedlinen we have are just over a year old and so far (fingers crossed) I haven’t lost any whites because of stains so the Oxyclean seems to work. (I use any old laundry liquid that seems like good value at the supermarket). Plus, I wash everything on cold because our laundry room’s hot water heater hasn’t worked for a couple of years!

I think that you can buy it at regular stores and I’m pretty sure that Bed Bath & Beyond sell it too but I tend to order a dual pack from Amazon.

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I have a front loader as well and it has a ‘slot’ for chlorine bleach in the drawer type thing I pull out and put my detergent and fabric softener in. Does yours have one of these as well? If so the machine will trickle the bleach into your load if you pour the bleach into the proper spot - at least mine does that for me… I also pretreat any stains.

I’m working on a doozy right now - stage makeup removed with my good towels despite makeup remover cloths being available… Arrgh… Not just face make - full body makeup as well. It was obvious she slept and rolled around in the bed without removing the body makeup… Despite using bleach I’m on my third round of trying to get the makeup out of a couple of the washcloths. But I digress…


Boy do I wish high schools taught laundry skills classes. So much for whatever they taught me in Teen Living back in the 80’s. I think I learned how to follow a recipe to make a homemade pizza.

So back to your colored/whites thing. When I was doing laundry (as my designated chore for family in my teens) I was taught not to mix colors with whites. But I grew up in a time when we didn’t stain items…except for the occasional stain on your clothing. Rags were used for wiping up spills, makeup was not removed by using nice bath towels, etc. So do you know the proper protocal for items that have colors and are partially white? And the fabric is different? I would ask my mother if we were actually on good terms.

For example: The other day my partner said he was going to stay the night at the rental. I told him to turn over the laundry from the washer to the dryer. I also told him to double check the dish drying towels to be sure there were no stains. Those kitchen towels are red and white checkerboard style. He said he didn’t see any stains but was surprised I mixed colors with whites. I told him that they are all “towel” material and I initially washed the red/white towels a couple of times on their own first (to make sure the color doesn’t bleed). Now I toss them in with the other “white” towels (including bleaching) as the color should not bleed now.

Do you mix in all fabrics if they are color? And then combine all fabrics if they are white?

Thank you! There are 2 slots in the drawer so I guess the other one must be for bleach. Makes sense now! And do you use household bleach or something more specific for laundry?

All colours go in together. The dishtowels (which are like yours, red and white), the cushion covers (mainly blue and orange), the bedspread (aqua), the beach towels (assorted colours) etc. All are washed on cold.

Then the whites are washed - bottom sheet, duvet cover, pillow cases, pillow protectors, towels, face cloths, bathmat, shower curtain and liner - again using cold water, bleach and laundry liquid.

I always use a white towel (one the guests have used) to clean the tub. This, and the fact that I’ve had guests in the past who seem to have used towels to clean their shoes of all things, means that they can be pretty mucky but the Oxyclean plus bleach plus laundry liquid has always done the trick.

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If there are only two one is probably for fabric softener - mine are labeled…

@Gardenhost, if you have a regular european washing machine, the first slot is for laundry powder/liquid and the second slot is for softener, not bleach.
You can either put a tablet of bleach in the drum, before you load, or a tablet/dose of Vanish or any other whitener.

I’ve just got home and checked, I actually have 3 slots (shows how much I pay attention) and they each have a little symbol on them so I’ll try and google what each one means

Then the first one must be for bleach/whitener :slight_smile:

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My two front ones are for detergent (on the left) / fabric softener (on the right). Behind the fabric softener is the bleach slot.

If you know the make and model of your machine you can probably google it and get the specifics including recommendations on how much bleach to use…

Bleaching is only one step in stain removal, it’s definitely not to be used to treat regular stains. I use bleach very sparingly, as it will dull and yellow white cotton if used to much. You have to treat the stain and completely remove it.

This site is a godsend for laundry, and I use a lot of her tricks: One Good Thing

Sorry if this is totally obvious, but you have to check that the stain is removed before something goes in the dryer. Once stain is “baked in”, it’s a lot of trouble to remove it, and likely it’s really set in.

I had a guest yesterday that was trying to cover some stained bedsheets so she took off the mattress pad, the sheets and shoved them in the washer. She was just taking the lid off the bleach bottle and about to pour when I happened to show up. I almost had a heart attack and asked if I could help. She was ashamed and was trying to wash out the things. I told her that we’d get it figured out, and showed her how to pre-treat the stain, get it out first, then launder. She said that nobody had ever showed her how to do laundry, and she had a bunch of stained bed sheets at home. Gross.

There are really good resources online, and besides my girl Jillee from One Good Thing, Martha Stewart has really good laundry stain charts and tricks.


If bed sheets stains are an issue, I have to wonder what her clothes look like. She must be buying new clothes every month.

What I don’t understand is how owners who ask guests to start a load of laundry…don’t have issues with staining. I know many people have on their departure checklist (whole home rentals) to start a load of linens or towels. How in the world are stains not set in? But I have heard owners say it’s not an issue and everything is clean just by using detergent. Amazing.

I guess I am lucky but out of 60+ stays I had stubborn stains only once on a sheet (grape juice I think), otherwise makeup/cosmetics stains I had on towels washed right away with detergent.

Amazon has sheet sets in which pillowcases, top sheet and fitted sheet are sold separately. The great thing about those is that if you do have a permanent stain you don’t have to replace the whole set.

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