A Laundry Chemistry Question About Chlorine

uloset

Well-known member
Jul 11, 2013
55
Central New Jersey
#1
People like to add bleach while cleaning white cloths and linens. If you are adding it solely for its disinfecting properties, wouldn't a chlorinated water supply (my water is around 1ppm) suffice in disinfecting your laundry, especially since the CYA level should be zero. My only guess against my previous statement is that the fabric itself is "attacked" by the bleach, which will use up all the FC. Even if that is so, I would think one would only need to add perhaps an ounce to totally disinfect even the largest load of laundry. Obviously, I'm bored today :D.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
12,681
#4
The amount of chlorine in regular tap water wouldn't be sufficient to oxidize all of the contaminants in a load of laundry. In addition, the amount of contact time is too short for the concentration of chlorine in tap water.
 

tim5055

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 11, 2014
10,087
Franklin, NC
#7
While I didn't have a laundry fairy, I discovered that a couple of accidents in the laundry room will get you banished from this room.... I'm trying to remember what it looks like in there:confused:
 

uloset

Well-known member
Jul 11, 2013
55
Central New Jersey
#9
The amount of chlorine in regular tap water wouldn't be sufficient to oxidize all of the contaminants in a load of laundry. In addition, the amount of contact time is too short for the concentration of chlorine in tap water.
What concentration of chlorine do you think would be needed to simply disinfect a load of laundry? I know the 1 cup rule is for the whitening effect is overkill just for disaffecting purposes.
 

chem geek

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Mar 28, 2007
12,082
San Rafael, CA USA
#10
It's hard to know how much is needed because for disinfection you want a certain amount of time at a certain active chlorine level. The problem with laundry is that there may be many organics or other substances for chlorine to react with so that the chlorine level gets to near zero. Also, the length of time and concentration of chlorine needed to disinfect depends on what you are trying to kill. Most bacteria are killed very quickly, but viruses take longer.

If you had a piece of laundry with typical dirtiness and put it into a sink full of water with some chlorine, you could see how quickly the chlorine got used up. For killing bacteria and many viruses, just exposing the laundry to low (few ppm) chlorine levels for a minute or so would be sufficient.