White t-shirts and socks hanging on a washing line.

A Quick Guide to Bleach Symbols

Bleach can be a great friend to you if you’ve spilled something truly disastrous on your clothes, and not just white clothes at that. The important thing is to use the right type of bleach – and to know when to put the bleach away and use something else. Luckily, the bleach symbol on the garment label (or the ‘no bleach’ symbol, as the case may be) can help you get this right.

So, what do the bleach laundry symbols look like, and what does each one mean? Let’s take a look.

Know your bleach symbol

There are different types of bleach that should be used for different fabrics, so make sure you know whether only oxygen bleach/no-chlorine bleach is allowed, or if you’re free to use any bleach – and, of course, always look out for the ‘do not bleach’ symbol.

30163_Persil_care_label_any_bleach Any bleach allowed. This means that chlorine based bleaching is allowed, but only if cold and part of a dilute solution. This bleach symbol is usually found on white clothes with a hard wearing fabric.

Only oxygen bleach Only oxygen bleach/non-chlorine bleach allowed. Oxygen bleach (also known as ‘colour-safe’ bleach) is suitable for most coloured clothes, as well as most white clothes. Again, delicate garments are often another matter.

Do not bleach Do not bleach.

You can find out more about the different types of bleach and how to use them in our bleaching guide.

Bleach symbols are one thing, but don’t forget safety

If your clothes don’t have the ‘do not bleach’ symbol on the label, and you’ve decided to go ahead and use bleach to clean them, there are a few safety precautions to keep in mind. These will be slightly different depending on the type of bleach you’re using. Here are the basics:

  • Read the product label and follow the instructions closely. 
  • Use the approved dosage. 
  • Wear gloves and eye protection to prevent direct contact with bleach. 
  • Always keep (and use) bleach well away from children and pets! 
  • Don’t mix chlorine bleach with anything other than water – some combinations, like ammonia, can create a toxic gas. Only add oxygen bleach to substances that are explicitly approved on the product label.
  • Test your bleach solution on a small and unnoticeable area of fabric before applying to the garment as a whole.

So that’s bleach symbols covered – still have questions about the wash care symbols on your clothing labels? Check out our full round up of all the different types of symbol and their meanings here.

Remember: use biocides safely. Always read the label and product information before use.

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