Bleach 101

Bleach Expiration Dates
  • The best way to identify the age of a bottle is to use the production code stamped on the neck of the bottle, which typically looks like this:
  • The top line provides the information on when it was produced, which would be A8-1-160-10 (if you added dashes). Only the first 6 digits are important. Below breaks down how the code should be read.
  • Plant number — Last digit of year made — Day of the year made
    • A8                                      1                                            160
  • The bleach in this example was made in 2011 on June 9th, the 160th day of the year
Bleach has a relatively short lifespan, around 9 months from opening. Over time it loses its disinfecting properties, and overall effectiveness. It will become cloudy and milky looking in texture once it starts, or has gone bad.
Keep in mind that splash-less, scented, and color safe bleach do NOT disinfect.


Using Bleach in a Washing Machine
  • If bleach is diluted properly, it will not leave bleach marks no matter the color of the items in question.
Regular Top Loader
  • Add the water and ½ cup of regular bleach to the water as it fills up.
    • You may want to add less bleach, depending on what you are using bleach on and the size of your load. Please look up further recommendations for your specific needs prior to using bleach.
  • Then add the clothing, bedding, or towels.
HE Top/Front Loader
  • You will have to use the bleach dispenser.
  • Not all machines have a great dispenser though, and the only way to know is to try it.
    • It is best to try it first with towels or another laundry that you do not care for. This way, if the dispenser fails, you won’t have ruined any of your good laundry.
  • *Most* HE washers pre-dilute bleach before it hits your clothes, but HE washers typically can only hold ½ cup of undiluted bleach in the dispenser. If you add more than that, or water with it, it will spillover inside the machine forcing its way into the water before the machine dilutes it, which then causes bleach marks.


Bleach and Iron Rich Water
  • If you have iron in your water supply, it is best not to use bleach in your laundry. It can make the iron worse, and it can result in yellow/orange stains.
  • If you used bleach and it caused staining due to the iron, try these steps:
    • If the whites are already yellowed, restore discolored white clothes by first trying a vinegar and water solution.
    • Soak clothes in a solution of 2 cups white vinegar to one-gallon hot tap water in a plastic container for 15 minutes. Then launder.
    • If this doesn’t work, you may need to use a commercial rust remover recommended for fabrics, such as Iron Out. Be sure to follow the package instructions so that it will be most effective.
      • For example, on the Iron Out instructions there is a warning, “Do not use with bleach or peroxide.” This warning is intended to alert the consumer not to mix Iron Out with chlorine bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or any detergent containing non-chlorine bleach (products with perborate, sodium percarbonate, or hydrogen peroxide listed in the ingredients.)


By Lexi Watts