bleach and white towels

How to Bleach White Towels

In the realm of laundry and cleaning, there’s nothing quite as inviting as a stack of fresh, pristine white towels.

Their bright, clean appearance not only adds a touch of elegance to your bathroom but also exudes a sense of freshness and luxury.

However, keeping those white towels looking their best requires some extra care and attention.

Bleach, with its remarkable whitening capabilities, can transform your tired-looking towels into dazzling white wonders once again.


What Are the Different Types of Bleach?

When it comes to bleaching white towels, it’s important to understand the various types of bleach available. In the UK, two commonly used types are chlorine bleach and oxygen bleach.

Chlorine bleach

chlorine bleach

Chlorine bleach, also known as sodium hypochlorite, is a powerful whitening agent. It effectively removes tough stains, disinfects, and brightens fabrics.

However, it’s important to use it with caution as it can be harsh on some fabrics and may cause colour fading or damage if not used correctly.


Oxygen bleach

Oxygen bleach, often called non-chlorine bleach, is a gentler alternative to chlorine bleach.

It contains hydrogen peroxide that breaks down stains and brightens fabrics without causing as much damage or fading. Oxygen bleach is generally considered safer to use on a wider range of fabrics.


Step 1: Prepare the Towels

Separate towels based on colour

white and coloured towels

Before you begin the bleaching process, it’s crucial to separate your white towels from coloured ones.

This prevents any potential colour transfer, ensuring that your white towels remain pristine and unaffected by dyes.

Take the time to sort your laundry and set aside the white towels in a separate pile or hamper.


Check the care labels

towel wash labels

Care labels are a wealth of information when it comes to properly caring for your towels.

Take a moment to read the care instructions on each white towel to identify any specific guidelines or restrictions for bleaching.

Some towels may have special considerations or recommend alternative whitening methods.

Adhering to these instructions will help preserve the fabric’s integrity and maintain the towel’s longevity.


Remove stains prior to bleaching

stained towel and baking soda paste

Before subjecting your white towels to the bleaching process, we recommend tackling any stubborn stains they may have.

Stains can interfere with the bleaching action and hinder the towels’ overall whiteness.

Treat stains individually using appropriate stain removers or methods based on the nature of the stain.

Common stain removal methods include pre-soaking, making a paste of bicarbonate of soda, or using specialised stain removal products.

Take care to test any new stain removal products on a small area of the towel to ensure they won’t cause damage or discolouration.


Step 2: Choose the Right Bleach

white towels and bleach

There are several things to consider when choosing the right bleach for your towel.

Chlorine bleach

When considering chlorine bleach for your white towels, there are a few key features and uses to keep in mind:

Concentration levels

Chlorine bleach is available in different concentrations, typically around 5% but it can go as high as 10%.

Higher concentrations may be more effective in removing stubborn stains, but they also carry a higher risk of fabric damage.

It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and dilute the bleach appropriately.


Chlorine bleach is suitable for use on cotton or cotton-blend towels. However, it can be too harsh for delicate fabrics, such as silk or wool.

Always check the care label of your towels to ensure they can withstand chlorine bleach.

Whitening power

Chlorine bleach excels at brightening white fabrics and restoring their original brilliance. It effectively removes yellowing or dinginess caused by prolonged use or improper care.


Oxygen bleach

Oxygen bleach, also known as non-chlorine bleach, provides a gentler alternative for whitening white towels. Consider the following features and uses when deciding on oxygen bleach.

Fabric compatibility

Oxygen bleach is generally safe for use on a wide range of fabrics, including cotton, linen, and synthetic blends.

It is less likely to cause damage or fading compared to chlorine bleach, making it suitable for more delicate towels.

Stain removal

Oxygen bleach is effective at breaking down stains without causing as much harm to the fabric. It’s especially useful for tackling organic stains like food, wine, or sweat.

However, it may not be as powerful against tough, set-in stains as chlorine bleach.

Environmental impact

Oxygen bleach is considered more eco-friendly compared to chlorine bleach. It breaks down into water and oxygen during the bleaching process, reducing the impact on the environment.

By understanding the features and uses of chlorine bleach and oxygen bleach, you can select the bleach type that best suits your needs and ensures the safety and longevity of your white towels.


Step 3: Bleaching Process

bleach and rubber gloves

Safety precautions while handling bleach

Before beginning the bleaching process, it’s crucial to prioritise safety. Follow these essential safety precautions when handling bleach:

  1. Ensure the area where you’ll be working is well-ventilated. Open windows or turn on exhaust fans to minimise inhalation of bleach fumes.
  2. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from direct contact with bleach. Additionally, consider wearing a protective apron or old clothing to prevent any accidental splashes or spills.
  3. Safeguard your eyes by wearing goggles or safety glasses while working with bleach.


Prepare a bleach solution

To achieve optimal results, it’s crucial to prepare the bleach solution correctly.

Read the manufacturer’s instructions on the bleach packaging for specific guidelines on dilution ratios.

Typically, a common dilution is one part bleach to four parts water, but check the product instructions for accuracy.

In a clean container, mix the bleach and water thoroughly. Avoid using metal containers, as bleach may react with metal and cause discolouration.


Apply bleach to the towels

apply bleach on towel

Once the bleach solution is prepared, it’s time to apply it to your white towels.

Fill a basin or sink with the bleach solution. Immerse the white towels completely, ensuring they are fully saturated.

For specific areas or stains, you can apply the bleach solution directly to the affected area. Use a clean cloth or sponge to gently dab or rub the solution onto the stain.

Allow the towels to soak in the bleach solution for 30 minutes.

Occasionally agitate the towels in the bleach solution by gently stirring or swishing them around. This helps ensure even distribution of the bleach and aids in stain removal.

By following these steps, you can safely and effectively bleach your white towels, restoring their pristine whiteness.


Step 4: Wash and Dry the Towels

cold washing towels

After the bleaching process, it’s essential to thoroughly rinse your white towels to remove any residual bleach or cleaning agents.

Start by rinsing your towels in cold water. Cold water helps to remove any remaining bleach or cleaning product effectively.


Bleach Alternatives

lemon juice, baking soda and white vinegar

If you prefer to avoid using bleach or if you have delicate fabrics that may not withstand its strong properties, there are natural alternatives you can try to whiten your white towels.

Lemon juice

The natural bleaching properties of lemon juice can help brighten white towels.

Squeeze fresh lemon juice onto the stained areas or add it to your laundry cycle to naturally lighten the fabric.


Bicarbonate of soda

Bicarbonate of soda is known for its whitening and deodorising properties.

Add half a cup of bicarbonate of soda to your laundry load, along with your regular detergent, to help whiten your towels.


White vinegar

White vinegar is another natural whitening agent.

Add half a cup of white vinegar to your laundry cycle or soak your towels in a mixture of water and vinegar before washing to help remove stains and brighten the fabric.

Experiment with these natural alternatives and find the method that works best for your white towels.

Remember to always follow the care instructions on your towels and perform a patch test on a small area before applying any alternative whitening method.


How to Keep Towels White

three white towels

To preserve the whiteness of your towels, continue to separate them from coloured items during future washes.

This prevents colour bleeding and maintains the integrity of your white towels’ brightness.

Promptly treat stains

Address stains promptly to prevent them from setting in and becoming more challenging to remove.

Follow the instructions provided by stain removal products or use gentle yet effective homemade stain remedies to tackle any stains that may occur.


Use bicarbonate of soda or vinegar as brightening agents

Periodically incorporate bicarbonate of soda or white vinegar into your laundry routine to maintain the brightness of your white towels.

Add half a cup of bicarbonate of soda or white vinegar to the wash cycle along with your regular detergent to boost the whitening effect.


Choose whitening laundry detergents

white towels and laundry detergent powder

When it comes to washing your white towels, choosing the right laundry detergent plays a vital role in maintaining their whiteness.

Go for detergents specifically formulated for whitening. These laundry detergents contain additives that help brighten and restore the whiteness of your towels.

Alternatively, you can use laundry detergents that contain oxygen bleach additives. These additives provide a boost to the whitening process without the need for separate bleaching agents.

Try to avoid fabric softeners, as can leave a residue on your towels, which can impact their absorbency and whiteness.


Avoid overloading the washing machine

Overloading the washing machine can compromise the effectiveness of the cleaning process and hinder the towels’ ability to regain and maintain their whiteness.

Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for load capacity and avoid overcrowding to ensure proper cleaning and rinsing.


Regularly clean your washing machine

Clean your washing machine regularly to remove any build-up of laundry detergent residues or mould that can transfer onto your white towels and affect their appearance.


Dry in the Sun

air drying towels on a line

Proper drying techniques are essential for maintaining the pristine appearance of your white towels.

Whenever possible, hang your white towels out in the sunlight. The sun’s natural bleaching properties can help further whiten and brighten the fabric.

If sun-drying is not feasible, opt for line drying or air drying your towels indoors. Use a clothesline or drying rack to allow air circulation, which helps prevent mildew or odours.

Do not over-dry your towels in a dryer, as excessive heat can damage the fabric fibres and lead to discolouration.


Store towels properly

white towels in the bathroom

Proper storage also helps prevent yellowing or discolouration of white towels. Ensure they are completely dry before folding and storing them in a cool, dry place away.

By implementing these maintenance practices, you can extend the life of your white towels and keep them looking fresh and bright for longer periods.



Keeping your white towels bright and pristine doesn’t have to be a daunting task.

Understanding the properties of bleach, preparing your towels, and choosing the right bleach type are essential steps in the process.

However, if you prefer to avoid bleach, natural alternatives like lemon juice, bicarbonate of soda, and white vinegar can be effective options.

By taking appropriate steps, such as adjusting bleach concentrations, addressing hard water deposits, and pre-treating stains, you can overcome these hurdles and restore your towels’ brilliance.

Remember, the key to maintaining white towels lies in consistency and proper care.