Bleaches can be applied to remove numerous stains which won't come out with solvents, detergents or other treatment. Nevertheless, bleaches are quite strong and could react with some fabrics or dyes to cause lasting damage. Therefore always test carefully before using and follow the manufacturer's directions as to strength and application. The three most widely available household bleaches are chlorine, sodium perborate and hydrogen peroxide. You can get these in drugstores and grocery stores and are available under various brand names. Chlorine is usually used in diluted form (2 tablespoons of the chemical to 1 quart of water) and isn'trecommended for use on silk or wool. Sodium perborate is safe for use on all types of fabric when mixed with luke-warm water. If mixed using hot water do not use on silk, wool or Dynel. Hydrogen peroxide (3 per cent) is also safe for use on all fibers, but it is slower acting than the other two.
Bleaches must be applied to small stains using a medicine dropper and on large stains by soaking. Chlorine should be allowed to soak on the fabric for no longer than five or ten minutes at a time and then rinsed off well with water. Multiple short applications are safer than one long one. Sodium perborate bleaches are generally allowed to work longer—from one-half hour up to several hours if needed. Hydrogen peroxide bleach is more efficient if the stain is covered using a cloth dampened in the solution, then covered with a second dry cloth and pressed with a hot iron. All bleaches must be rinsed out using plenty of water when the job is done.