Oxygen Bleach vs. Chlorine Bleach: Which One Should You Choose?

While about 40% of Americans have used bleach to wash food at one point or another, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) firmly advises against this. In fact, you should only use bleach for washing clothes and disinfecting surfaces. However, you should avoid mixing bleach and other detergents because the chemical reaction may produce harmful gases such as chlorine. For instance, in 2014 there were about 6,000 cases of chlorine gas poisoning in the U.S., according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). When choosing between oxygen bleach and chlorine bleach, read the manufacturer’s instructions as well as the fabric care label first to avoid damaging your clothes. To get you started, here is a detailed comparison of oxygen bleach vs. chlorine bleach.


Although both bleaches help in general cleaning, their purposes are somewhat different because of their properties. For instance, chlorine bleach is used for water treatment, disinfecting surfaces, and cleaning laundry. On the other hand, oxygen bleach only helps in mild cleaning and disinfection but not in treating drinking water. Since chlorine bleach can produce poisonous chlorine gas when mixed with other detergents, avoid using it with other chemicals, says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


Naturally, chlorine bleach is stronger than oxygen bleach in terms of cleaning and disinfection power. More specifically, chlorine bleach removes tough stains easily than oxygen bleach, which is only a mild disinfectant. While chlorine bleach is suitable for heavy cleaning and disinfection, it can easily damage lighter clothes by weakening the fabric, says the American Cleaning Institute (ACI). For this reason, only go for chlorine bleach if you are dealing with tough stains on heavy fabrics.


Although chlorine bleach is an effective cleaning agent, it comes with major safety concerns. Some of the dangers resulting from the usage of chlorine bleach include:

• Production of the poisonous chlorine gas which can irritate the nose, skin, throat, and eyes
• Dermatitis
• Damage of the digestive tract when ingested
• Breathing problems
• Corrosion of fabrics
• Can harm the environment

On the other hand, oxygen bleach is much safer and may not expose you to such dangers. For safety, always dilute chlorine bleach before using it to reduce the effects.

Which is Better?

Considering the health and environmental concerns, oxygen bleach remains the better option between the two bleaching agents. It cleans and disinfects clothes and surfaces with little or no damage, and hence, it’s also suitable for lighter fabrics. This means that you will be safe using it for any cleaning job. Even so, some of the tough stains may not fade since oxygen bleach has less cleaning strength. Conversely, chlorine bleach will come in handy if your cleaning involves tough stains and heavy fabrics. Just ensure you use it in a well-ventilated place, avoid mixing it with other chemicals, and wear a gas mask to avoid chlorine gas poisoning, according to an article published by the Medical News Today. Overall, your choice of bleaching agent should depend on your cleaning needs.

Use this handy oxygen bleach and chlorine bleach comparison to choose the right product for your needs. At Fresh & Clean, we are your one-stop-shop for all your laundry needs, whether it be laundry or dry cleaning. Visit our website or call us today at 619-691-7626 to learn how we can help you do your laundry and dry cleaning in no time.

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