How to Use Oxygenated Bleach

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Have you decided to stop using chlorine bleach in your home? Here’s why oxygenated bleach is the perfect, safe alternative for cleaning more than dirty clothes. You can even make your own.

Overhead view of powdered oxygen bleach spilling out of a measuring cup

What is Oxygenated Bleach?

Oxygen bleach, sometimes called color-safe bleach, is a chlorine-free alternative in powdered and liquid forms. Its active ingredients include sodium percarbonate, which sounds like a harsh chemical but is just hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate — also known as wood ash.

Chlorine Bleach Can Be Irritating

Traditional bleach contains sodium hypochlorite. It is a harsh and corrosive irritant that can cause permanent damage to the skin, throat, lungs, and eyes. It adds fumes to your indoor air, which can burn your throat and esophagus, and is particularly toxic for children and pets. Combining chlorine bleach with other household cleaners can be fatal. So, it’s not surprising that many people are switching to oxygen-based bleach instead.

How to Use Oxygen Bleach in Your Laundry

From whitening whites to brightening colorful fabrics, oxygenated bleach is safe for almost every load of laundry. Don’t use oxygenated bleach on wool, silk, or leather clothing or garments embellished with those materials, or if the manufacturer’s label says not to use it.

In the Washer

Add 1-2 tablespoons of oxygen bleach and your usual laundry detergent for regular loads. For heavily soiled loads, add up to 1/2 cup. Oxygenated bleach works with any water temperature, but it needs time to dissolve if you’re using the powdered form. You can add the liquid form at any time.

As a Pre-Soak for Stains

To remove stains from clothing, make a pre-soak with oxygenated bleach by dissolving 2 tablespoons of it in a gallon of water. You’ll want to use cold water for blood and mud and warm for body oils and everything else. For stubborn stain removal, soak the item with this solution in a sink for 15 minutes, then immediately launder.

How to Clean Your Home with Oxygen Bleach

There are many ways to use chlorine-free bleach to clean, but you should always consult the package label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If you’re using the homemade oxygen bleach recipe as a spray cleaner, be sure to spot test the surface in a hidden area first. Never use oxygen bleach on silk, wool, leather, or unfinished wood surfaces.

In the Kitchen

• Pot scrubber: Sprinkle a bit of powdered oxygen bleach on burned food or grimy baking sheets, then use the corner of a sponge dipped in hot water to scrub away the mess.

• Sponge soak: Kill stubborn odors and stains in your kitchen sponge by soaking it in 1 teaspoon of oxygenated bleach stirred into 2 cups of boiling water. Let the sponge sit until the water cools completely, then rinse it well and squeeze it dry.

• Refrigerator cleaner: Dissolve 1 teaspoon of oxygen bleach in 16 ounces of cold water. Use this general oxygen bleach solution and a microfiber cloth to clean and deodorize surfaces in your fridge. Wipe with clean water after and buff them dry.

In the Bathroom

• Grout cleaner: Make a paste of oxygenated bleach powder and hot water to clean grout naturally. Scrub the paste onto the grout with an old toothbrush and let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then scrub again and rinse the paste away.

• Toilet stains: To remove stubborn toilet stains with oxygen bleach powder, sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of it into your toilet, wait 2 hours, and then scrub with a toilet brush and flush. For very stubborn stains, leave the oxygen bleach in overnight — but don’t use the toilet in the meantime.

• Tub brightener: Dingy acrylic tubs get bright again if you fill them with warm water and 1 cup of oxygen bleach. Let this sit overnight, drain the tub, scrub it, and then rinse.

In the Bedroom

• Mattress brightener: You can use the homemade oxygenated bleach recipe below to deep-clean your mattress. Or, dissolve 2 teaspoons of powdered oxygen bleach in a spray bottle filled with 2 cups of cool water. Lightly mist the surface, but do not drench it, and wait 5 minutes before wiping it away with a clean, dry cloth.

• Greasy bedding: To remove yellowing sweat stains from sheets, use 1/2 cup of oxygenated bleach in your wash every time you launder bedding, and you’ll prevent grimy pillowcases, too.

Carpet and Upholstery

To remove stains from carpets and upholstery, dissolve 1 tablespoon of oxygen bleach in 16 ounces of water. Dip a white cloth into this mixture and dab it on the stain, using only enough solution to saturate it. Wait 3-5 minutes, then rinse with a fresh cloth dampened with water. Inspect the area and repeat as needed. You may want to steam clean your carpet afterward for a deeper clean.


Since oxygenated bleach is not harmful to plants, you can safely use it outside to clean your stained cement patio or driveway, wash your deck, and clean your home’s siding.

Homemade Oxiclean Recipe

To make DIY oxygen bleach, dissolve 1/2 cup washing soda (for whites) or 1/2 cup baking soda (for colors) in 1 cup of hot water. Stir in 1/2 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide. Add this non-chlorine liquid bleach solution to the wash cycle along with your usual detergent as the water fills. Do not pour it directly on clothing.

You can also find powdered or liquid oxygen bleach in the laundry aisle of most grocery stores and supermarkets. Some stores have their own generic version, usually labeled “Non-chlorine bleach” or “Oxygen-based bleach.” Keep it on hand, so you’ve always got some available to clean house.

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