Hydrogen Peroxide And Laundry - Use It To Brighten Your Clothes

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The primary use of hydrogen peroxide for laundry is to brighten clothes and remove stains from your laundry.


You can use this product as a substitute for chlorine bleach to whiten your clothes. I've explained how below.

How to use hydrogen peroxide to brighten laundry, including both whites and colors {on Stain Removal 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Is This Safe For Your Colored Clothes?

While the video below suggests using hydrogen peroxide to whiten your whites (and yes, it does that very well!), I've been asked on multiple occasions whether hydrogen peroxide, a bleach, will bleach the color out of your colored clothes.

The answer is typically it will not bleach your colored clothes, not anymore than other color safe bleaches do. (And when such bleaching occurs it is typically because you've used the bleach at too high a concentration, or left the bleach to sit for too long, or the dye itself in the fabric was not properly set.)

Hydrogen peroxide is itself an oxygen bleach. (You can click the link to read my article all about oxygen bleaches and how they work if you're interested in an in-depth discussion.) Basically though, just know that like other oxygen bleaches it is typically safe for colors.

In fact, to help put your mind at ease you should know that color safe bleach is comprised mainly of hydrogen peroxide, along with some additional additives such as brighteners.

For example, the popular color safe oxygen bleach, Oxiclean, has two active ingredients. The first is sodium percarbonate, which when it comes into contact with water releases hydrogen peroxide, and the second is sodium carbonate, also known as washing soda.

How Much Peroxide Should I Add To Brighten Laundry?

The video suggests adding 8 ounces of a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide to each load of laundry.

The 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide is the kind you buy at the drug store for first aid, in the brown bottle, not the stronger stuff you use to bleach your hair.



I've addressed some questions below about exactly what the 3% version of this product is, versus the more concentrated 35% version.

Taylor says: Here are links to buy this or related products. If you make a purchase I receive a small commission which helps support this site and my family.



You can submit your own uses for hydrogen peroxide here, or read many other tips and ideas already submitted.

You can also submit your own laundry stain removal tip here.

Top photo courtesy of *clarity*

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Best Homemade Stain Remover: Hydrogen Peroxide + Dish Soap

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Hydrogen peroxide is perhaps best known as a blood stain remover all by itself (as discussed below), but it works well to remove many other types of stains too.

In fact, if you're going to make only one homemade stain remover, I serious suggest using this recipe:

Ingredients:
  • 1 part dish soap

  • 2 parts hydrogen peroxide
Some people swear it has to be Blue Dawn dish soap but honestly, I have found any dish soap works.

The soap helps remove grease and dirt, while the peroxide bleaches away stains and breaks down organic materials. It makes this a killer combination on many types of stains.

Give it a try and I bet you'll be most pleasantly surprised how well it works!

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Works Well On Blood Stains

Above I shared an awesome general laundry stain remover recipe which uses hydrogen peroxide as one of its two ingredients.

But while peroxide works well in combination with dish soap for many stains, there are other stains where just the peroxide alone is most effective.

The most common one, and one where many people struggle to actually remove many stains, is blood. And let me tell you, hydrogen peroxide is an awesome blood stain remover!

Here's information from a reader, Sandy, who shared her experience using this product for this exact purpose.

Sandy says:

This is a very inexpensive product available in the first aid section of any drug or discount store that works wonders on blood stains.

I first learned of this from a nurse.

While it is the basic ingredient contained in non chlorine bleaches like Clorox 2, if you are just in need of taking out a blood stain I would use the peroxide.

tips for removing blood stains from fabric
It will work on stains that are not treated right away, just takes a bit longer to get out.

Obviously the sooner you can treat the stain the better.

In addition there are varying opinions about whether warm or cold water is appropriate for a blood stain, I always use cold water.

Taylor says:

I agree Sandy, you should ALWAYS use cold water on blood stains.

And you're absolutely right that hydrogen peroxide is a simple, cheap and effective method for removing them!

I have personally used this method myself, and although it can take a couple applications it is amazing to watch the stain literally disappear before your eyes.

Photo courtesy of aldenchadwick

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Diluting 35% Hydrogen Peroxide Down To 3% Variety

I got this question from a reader recently, and wanted to share some back and forth I and another reader then had about whether you should dilute the higher concentrated 35% hydrogen peroxide to become the 3% variety that is most commonly found in drug stores in the first aid aisle.

Judy asks:

You say to use 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide. How do you dilute it to this amount?

Taylor's Answer:

Judy, thanks for the question. When I say to use a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide I mean the hydrogen peroxide you get in the brown bottles for first aid.

When you buy it this way it is already diluted to 3%, so you do not need to dilute it further, unless instructions on the site say to add it to a solution of water.

Hope this helps!

Satheesh says:

If you have 35% hydrogen peroxide to convert the same to 3% add 11 parts of water to one part of hydrogen peroxide 35%.

Taylor's Response:

Thanks Satheesh for sharing what you believe to be the proper way to dilute the higher concentration product into a concentration that is more available for first aid. I personally don't know, however, if this is the correct dilution, so follow Satheesh's instructions with caution if you choose to do this.

That being said, I personally wouldn't even bother trying to dilute 35% peroxide to 3%, because buying the product in the higher concentration is more expensive and takes more time to fiddle with, then to just buy it at the lower concentration to begin with.

The reason some people buy the higher concentration is for certain alleged health benefits (this is not a medical site and I will not get into the arguments about whether it is effective, since I'm not a doctor, nor do I claim to be), I am just here to discuss house cleaning and laundry.

For house cleaning and laundry purposes almost always the higher concentrated forms of hydrogen peroxide are not needed.

Instead, for purposes of stain removal, whitening and brightening, etc., I would just head to the drugstore, get the proper lower concentration to begin with, and use that!

You don't need to make this hard folks. Just buy the kind you get in the first aid aisle and rest easy knowing the concentration is already correct for your laundry needs, was easy to get, and quite cheap! Win-Win-Win.

I have answered this question as part of the site where you can ask me for laundry help. Go check out that section to see what else I've answered or to ask something yourself.

Related Pages You May Enjoy

100's Of Homemade Cleaners Recipes

Laundry Tips & Tricks For Busy Moms

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Comments for Diluting 35% Hydrogen Peroxide Down To 3% Variety

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response to Lorna re carpet blood stains
by: Taylor

Yes, I do have some tips for this common problem. Here's my page with tips for removing blood stains from carpet!

Blood stains on carpet
by: Lorna

My husband bleeds easily due to blood thinners. Any suggestions on how to remove blood stains from carpet?

Container size
by: Anonymous

Where can I find large bottles of peroxide instead of the small ones found in grocery stores? Like gallon sized ones.

White skort turned yellow
by: Anonymous

I had a couple yellow spots on a white skort. I treated the spots with peroxide then put it in the sun for extra bleaching power. Now everywhere the peroxide ran is yellow. I guess putting it in sun was wrong. Any way to fix my mistake?

Laundry upkeep
by: Anonymous

I am the mother of eleven children and don't believe there is a laundry stain I haven't met or a laundry smell that hasn't passed under my nose. For the one mother, I too have a special needs child and buy OdoBan for laundry. I put the OdoBan in the wash cycle and not the rinse cycle because my child has sensitive skin and it works fine. I've used it for years. I live in Indiana and buy mine at Sam's Club for just over $10. There it comes with a diluted concentrated mixture attached in a spray bottle. It is a disinfectant and kills 99.9% of germ. So you get 2 for 1.

Even if you don't get the spray with it you can make your own and it has a nice fragrance. Hope this info helps.

Clean stains before washing
by: Anonymous

One to ten ratio of Dawn dish liquid with hydrogen peroxide. Use in clean spray bottle to remove stains on clothing. Wash in cold water with like colors.

A Good Combo For Pretreating
by: Jan

This is a great inexpensive way to pre treat shirt collars and cuffs as it breaks down the dirt as well as the perspiration/body oil that is especially a problem for collars. I think the dish soap portion of the mix does the most good on the collars. Just sponge it on, let it sit for 5-10 minutes before washing. I use it primarily on white shirts, but have also applied it to colored garments as well. For any of the mixture I have left after pretreating I just throw it in the washer with my detergent.

I have also discovered that it helps if you are trying to remove baby formula stains from your clothes as well as the baby's, because like blood, they are also protein stains. It is much cheaper than any of the store bought laundry pre-treatment products.

How much?
by: LJ

Does this homemade stain remover need to be added like a paste (scrub on with a toothbrush) or do you just add 2:1 to each load of laundry?

Coat Saver
by: Anonymous

After falling on ice and having stitches in my head my doctor's nurse told me to use peroxide to take care of the blood spots on my new pink coat. IT WORKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

let the stain remover sit, or do you scrub it in?
by: Anonymous

When using the 2 parts peroxide with one part liquid dish soap, do you then apply it directly to the stain, spray it on, and then let it set or do you scrub it into the fabric?

club soda
by: Anonymous

Club soda will remove new stains. Don't know about old ones but great on new stains.

HE washer
by: Anonymous

Will this work in an HE washer?

carpet stains
by: Mardy

Would it work on the pet stains on my carpet?

If hydrogen peroxide fails
by: Anonymous

Thanks for the info on bleaching clothes safely with hydrogen peroxide. I messed up a blue and white striped shirt by washing with blue jeans and was trying to figure out how to brighten the white again.

For those people who were writing in about urine and dog smells, I just wanted to share that I recently discovered a product called OdoBan Odor Eliminator, which is a colorless, concentrated deodorizer and sanitizer which you can add to the rinse cycle of the wash or simply spray on items (floors, countertops, furniture) mixed with water to whatever strength desired. Different concentrations do various things, from killing mildew, getting rid of pet smells or disinfecting. This is not a cleaner, but it really helps when nothing else works or you can't use hydrogen peroxide or vinegar. You can get a gallon of the concentrate for less than ten bucks at Home Depot or on Amazon for a little more. It comes in a fragrance called eucalyptus, which just smells fresh and clean.

Response re yellow spots
by: Anonymous

Many white items are actually dyed. Most fibers are yellowish or grey and the manufacturer uses a blue dye to make it the bright white we are used to. Like the article said, if the dye wasn't "set" or was an organic dye, the peroxide will remove it. In my grocery store is a RIT product called bluing and it helps restore those bright whites.

Response re question about hard water stains
by: Taylor

If you've got hard water stains, or high iron content that is causing rust stains in your clothes, for example, I suggest using a product that has a higher acidity which is what helps remove these types of stains. You have to be careful what you choose though so you don't harm your fabric, so check out these hard water stain removal tips for ideas. (Make sure you look at the tips applicable to fabrics, and not those for hard surfaces!)

Hard water
by: Anonymous

We have really hard water with high iron content. Would peroxide help keep the orange out of our clothes?

staining from peroxide
by: Anonymous

HELP!!! I used straight peroxide on a white outfit that turned the area yellow. What can I do to get the stain out?

Tips and warnings about the 35% solution
by: CatalogQueen

Referring to the 35% solution of peroxide. If using, be very, very careful not to get on skin or counter tops, or wood shelves. I have learned from experience that this solution is very, very potent and dangerous.

Response to Diana re urine smell
by: Taylor

Diana, I would suggest that you look on this removing urine stains and smells page for ideas of what might work best for this problem!

Removing Urine smell from clothes and sheets
by: Diana

So I have a special needs child and his urine is a problem. Trying to remove the smell from his clothes and sheets. Would peroxide do the trick and if so how much would I use? Appreciate any input.(;

For the washer
by: mymren

I have washed bloody clothes in the washer by just adding 1/4 cup to the wash cycle - comes out great every time!

Cheaper source
by: Anonymous

I buy gallon jugs at a wholesale type store called Smart and Final. I don't know how wide spread the store is, but the cost savings is worth looking into.

It works!
by: Karen

Remember when nurses were required to wear white uniforms? I was one of them. We used hydrogen peroxide successfully to maintain the look.

I have white whites with this!
by: Anonymous

Use this all the time. I have a well so between hydrogen peroxide and cream of tarter I have bright whites.

HP to remove wet dog smell from duvet?
by: Jodie

I'm at my wits end with a new duck feather duvet - smells like a stagnant pond! It's been thru a laundry washer with standard detergent & 3 hours of intermittent tumble drying,not to mention 2 weeks in and out of the sun in an attempt to air it. I have some 35% hydrogen peroxide which I can dilute and add to a wash/prewash/rinse.. not sure which .. any thoughts? Cheers! Jodie.

I buy it by the gallon to make it especially cheap!
by: Colleen

Hi Taylor,

I've been using the 3% H2O2 in my laundry using the bleach dispenser of my front loader washing machine for almost a year now. Not only has it done wonders for my laundry, it's cleaned out the dispenser part of my machine and so will help my machine last longer. I buy it by the gallon at Smart & Final - a commercial-turned-retail chain on the west coast. The gallon costs about $2 so is by far the most inexpensive way to go.

Thanks so much for your site, you've cleared up many questions I've had on various products and I appreciate the work you put into your site.

Best regards!

works great
by: Carrie

I use it on all fabrics all the time works great!

rinse from white shirt before laundering
by: Christine

If you use it to treat a blood stain on a white shirt, you have to rinse it before laundering. I'm a nurse and it works every time-no yellowing.

hasn't bleached any clothes
by: Lana

I use peroxide straight on clothing that is blood stained. I have never had it bleach any clothes.

only lifted color if left to sit a LONG time
by: Julie

For me, it's only lifted color out if I let it sit on the clothing for more than 24 hrs before washing.

didn't cause fading for me
by: Heather

My clothes have never faded or been bleached when I used it.

part of great laundry stain remover
by: Julie

I use a paste of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, a tiny bit of Dawn dish soap. Gets out almost any stain!

blood removal
by: Micaela

Hydrogen provide is especially great at pulling blood out of clothes so that they don't stain... great if someone had a bloody nose all over a white shirt or cut their leg and got it on their jeans or socks... not stains or color fading... just makes it look like it never happened.

works better than anything
by: Sara

Agreed! Hydrogen peroxide works better than anything and it has never bleached any of my fabrics. I use it on colors, carpet, everything. It's just fantastic.

works great!
by: Lesley

I love hydrogen peroxide for laundry stain removers! Works great on getting whites white without using bleach!

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Taylor

Hi, I'm Taylor, a busy mom with 3 kids, so I have lots of hands on experience with house cleaning, laundry and my fair share of spots, spills and other messy catastrophes. Thanks for visiting my site.

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