Tip of the Week – Oxygen Bleaches

It’s laundry time again & you have a nasty stain on your bright white shirt! Instead of using a chlorine bleach, which is extremely harmful when released into the environment, think about using an oxygen or hydrogen based bleach.

What are Oxygen Bleaches?

Oxygen bleaches are materials that release oxygen for cleaning and bleaching of stains and dirt upon adding to water. There are three types of oxygen bleaches sold in the consumer market, hydrogen peroxide, sodium percarbonate and sodium perborate. While hydrogen peroxide is a liquid, sodium percarbonate and sodium perborate are powders. Sodium percarbonate is used in deck, carpet, household and laundry cleaning products. Sodium perborate is also a powder and is used mostly in automatic dishwashing and laundry products as a hot water bleaching agent. While sodium perbcarbonate has the highest solubility in water, sodium perborate is more storage stable in detergent formulations.

Powdered bleaches are made by treating natural soda ash or natural borax with hydrogen peroxide. These materials can absorb the oxygen while remaining free flowing solids. Upon dissolving in water, they release the oxygen. Pure sodium percarbonate contains about 13-14% oxygen and sodium perborate contains about 10-15% oxygen. They are currently being manufactured in the United States, Korea and China. While Asian bleaches are generally lower in cost, the US produced bleaches are the most consistent in composition and performance.

3 Comments on “Tip of the Week – Oxygen Bleaches”

  • Robbie July 27th, 2009 10:40 pm

    Why not use bleach and phosphate free products that are better both for the environment AND you? From what I know, bleach is never a good thing, though some forms might be better than others. Of course there is always the question of ‘does it work?’ I’ve been using a brand of eco-friendly laundry detergent for 5 years, and with two daughters under the age of 4 I can tell you from first-hand experience that it does. :) Visit my website and contact me for more info.

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