Joanne asked: My grandson and I are having a “discussion” on how long bleach and soap remain in clothes. I say if you rinse properly, there is no problem. He says in his science studies that the bleach stays in forever. Please advise if this is correct. He says you can never remove all of the bleach from clothes. Help.
According to our research, bleach will not remain on clothing that is properly rinsed. We have found no studies or proof that bleach remains in clothing fibers after washing and rinsing completely. By rinsing the piece in clean water, and plenty of it, the bleach should be washed away completely. If a large amount of bleach was added to the load, additional rinse cycles may be necessary to remove it completely. If not rinsed completely, a residue will remain. This residue can remain on the clothing, in the washing machine and the dryer. A heavily loaded washing machine won’t rinse clothing well, and high efficiency machines that use little water also tend to leave residue behind. It can be removed by washing/rinsing the item/machine again.
Sodium hydroxide, a part of household bleach, is what weakens the fibers if not rinsed completely. This can be neutralized by adding vinegar to the rinse water or washing a second time with no bleach to remove any residue that remains. Still, over time, clothing treated with bleach tends to break down faster, and the result is visible with worn, torn, or ripped fabrics. This result stems from both regular and color safe bleaches.