When many people think of bleach, they automatically think of chlorine bleach. However, there are actually many different kinds of bleach. For laundry, the most common bleach alternative is called oxygen bleach.
Chlorine bleach actually works quite well, in terms of stain removal and whitening fabrics. However, it can also be very rough on fabrics, causing discoloring and premature aging. Don’t use chlorine bleach on fabrics made of silk, wool, Spandex or on permanent press fabrics.
Oxygen bleach is an excellent bleach alternative. It does an excellent job of removing organic stains and whitening laundry, but is much safer for your clothes than chlorine bleach. However, oxygen bleach does have a couple of drawbacks. Most importantly, it can take longer to work than regular chlorine bleach. It usually takes a few hours for oxygen bleach to get rid of stains, sometimes items need to be soaked overnight. Oxygen bleach is also not suited for some finer grades of silk or wool. When buying oxygen bleach, one of the most important considerations, in addition to price, is the quality. Some brands contain 50% or more fillers.