I have to admit – for a woman entirely obsessed with fiber, I take terrible care of my laundry. The special pieces created by my own hands of course get babied, but the rest? I chuck the entirety of the laundry basket in the washer. Separating laundry has always been way too “adulthood” for me. Bleaching whites and pre-treating stains? Forget about it. White has never been my color anyway.
Well, of course, the manbeast looks fabulous in white, and I’ve been guiltily tucking away all of his white shirts that I’ve ruined in one way or another – all of them dingy from neglectful care and some of them accidentally dyed pink.
So now that summer is here it’s time to fish out the secret stash of ruined whites and see if I can’t save them using bleach – something I don’t like to work with at all and generally don’t use.
Why do a blog post on it? Well, it does have to do with fiber.
Most commonly found in households in the chlorine variety, bleach “refers to a number of chemicals which remove color, whiten or disinfect, often by oxidation” according to the Wikipedia article. As far as I can tell, being no sort of chemist whatsoever, oxidizing disrupts the part of the molecule responsible for color (called the chromophore) – this hijacking changes the nature of the molecule to one that “either does not contain a chromophore, or contains a chromophore that does not absorb visible light as done by chlorine.”
Phew, so that’s my primer on how chlorine bleach magically gets rid of color. Fun fact: photons from sunlight ALSO disrupt the chromophore in a molecule, which is why if you leave your yarn on the dashboard of your car for a few weeks, you will be pissed off. True story.
So I run the tap water to skin-scaldingly hot and fill up my trusty fiber-treatment tub with about 2 1/2 gallons of water. I eyeball the bleach, going for about 2 cups, and add the pile of whites, poking them around with a metal spatula end like a stir stick in a nasty smelling chlorine cocktail.
Another fun fact: don’t ever mix bleach with anything unless you are absolutely sure it won’t kill you.
I also stuck in the bottom of a shirt I got yesterday from the half off rack at Goodwill, because bleach dip is trendy – and because at least part of this process is gonna be artsy, dammit. I set the timer for 10 minutes and then come back and check on my bleach dipped shirt – still pretty blue at the bottom, and not dipped enough. So I sink more of the length in.
When the timer goes up once more, I pull out my shirt. Looks considerably bleachier – I would prefer to do more, but it’s a lacy number and bleach can weaken or destroy delicate fabrics so I don’t want to leave it in any longer. I squeeze it out and throw it in the washer to await the rest of the bleached goods.
After letting the whites soak for half an hour total, I dump the entire thing in the washer (not along with anything else this time) and start the load.
Success! The whites have been whitened and brightened and all that other laundry commercial jargon. And my bleach-dip experiment turned out cute, too.
Level 3 Adult Achievement unlocked!