In general, chlorine or oxygen bleach should be used with a good laundry detergent to succeed at removing stains. Some oxygen bleaches are better than chlorine bleaches at reducing or removing tough stains such as red wine.

Chlorine bleach can cause colors to fade. Initially, it may have no noticeable effect on the brightness of colors. After a few washing, however, the chlorine begins taking its toll. Slight fading becomes evident and then, after more washing, objectionable. An oxygen bleach will continue being kind to colors much longer.

Chlorine beach, when used properly, is the most effective way to whiten fabrics, including some synthetics. It’s ideal for the occasional whitening your wash may need, but knowing how to use chlorine bleach is essential: Improper and long-term use may take its toll on colors and fabric life. Using chlorine bleach may be tricky, but buying it is simple. The only real difference you are likely to find is price.

All-fabric oxygen bleaches have the advantage of being safe with most fabrics and dyes, even over the long term. But they’re much more expensive to use than chlorine bleaches.

A good approach is the occasional use of chlorine bleach on chlorine-safe white fabrics to deliver the whitening you need. Never use chlorine and oxygen bleaches together; they will counteract each other. Use all-fabric bleach to brighten colors without fading and to whiten fabrics that are not safe for use with chlorine bleach.

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