Bleach in the laundry industry and its problems
There are two bleaches primarily used in the stain removal industry.
- Sodium hypochlorite (also called chlorine or liquid bleach)
- Oxygen bleach in dry and liquid form.
Neither are very nice for you or your clothes.
Liquid sodium hypochlorite bleach is made by combining chlorine with a solution of sodium hydroxide and the result is so extremely toxic that it was used as a weapon in trench warfare in World War I. It is a powerful caustic with strong irritant effects. Inhalation of hypochlorite fumes can cause coughing and respiratory tract irritation. Hypochlorite solutions may also be irritating to the skin.*
Applying undiluted bleach directly to fabrics may destroy the brightness of the colour of your clothes and weaken the fabric, so they won’t last as long.
Oxygen bleaches (oxyaction) are available in both dry and liquid form. All dry oxygen bleaches contain inorganic peroxygen compounds, such as sodium perborate tetrahydrate and sodium percarbonate. When dissolved, the inorganic peroxygen compounds convert to hydrogen peroxide just like cheap, nasty bleach, which strips out colour.
Hydrogen peroxide can be an irritation to the skin and mucous membranes*
*Martindale Extra Pharmacopoeia – Volume 31