What is the Difference Between Chlorine Bleach and Oxygen Bleach

The main difference between chlorine bleach and oxygen bleach is that chlorine bleach is a stronger oxidizing agent, whereas oxygen bleach is a milder oxidizing agent.

Bleach is a chemical substance used primarily for disinfection, cleaning, and laundry purposes. It is known for its strong oxidizing properties. This allows it to remove stains, whiten fabrics, and disinfect surfaces by killing or deactivating microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Chlorine bleach and oxygen bleach are two common types of bleach.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Chlorine Bleach
      – Definition, Features 
2. What is Oxygen Bleach
      – Definition, Features 
3. Similarities Between Chlorine Bleach and Oxygen Bleach
      – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Chlorine Bleach and Oxygen Bleach
      – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Chlorine Bleach, NaClO, Oxygen Bleach, Oxygenated Bleach, Sodium Hypochlorite

Difference Between Chlorine Bleach and Oxygen Bleach - Comparison Summary

What is Chlorine Bleach

Chlorine bleach is primarily composed of sodium, oxygen, and chlorine atoms. Its chemical formula, NaClO, reflects this composition. Chlorine bleach owes its stain-removing and disinfecting abilities to the chlorine atom within its structure. Chlorine is a powerful oxidizing agent, which means it can readily transfer oxygen atoms to other substances, causing them to break down or lose their color. When chlorine bleach is added to water, it dissociates into sodium ions (Na+) and hypochlorite ions (ClO-). The hypochlorite ions are the active agents responsible for its cleaning and disinfecting properties.

Compare Chlorine Bleach and Oxygen Bleach

There are many applications of chlorine bleach. Chlorine bleach is a staple in many households for whitening and disinfecting white laundry items. It is exceptionally effective at removing tough stains, such as grass, wine, and blood, from fabrics. Chlorine bleach is also a go-to cleaner for kitchen and bathroom surfaces, effectively removing mold, mildew, and stubborn stains. It is also used in commercial and industrial cleaning applications.

Chlorine bleach can restore the bright appearance of grout and tiles in kitchens and bathrooms, making them look clean and fresh. Chlorine bleach plays a vital role in municipal water treatment facilities. It helps to disinfect drinking water and wastewater, making it safe for consumption and returning it to the environment.

What is Oxygen Bleach

Oxygen bleach, also known as oxygen-based bleach or oxygenated bleach, is typically derived from two main compounds: hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and sodium carbonate (Na2CO3). These two components combine to form sodium percarbonate, which is the active ingredient in most oxygen bleach products. When sodium percarbonate is dissolved in water, it breaks down into water and oxygen molecules, releasing these oxygen molecules to interact with stains and contaminants.

The cleaning power of oxygen bleach lies in its ability to break down and dislodge stains, organic matter, and microorganisms through oxidation. Unlike chlorine bleach, oxygen bleach does not rely on aggressive chemical reactions but rather on the gentle and natural process of releasing oxygen. Oxygen bleach is gentle enough for use on colored fabrics, ensuring that the colors remain vibrant and intact.

Chlorine Bleach vs Oxygen Bleach

It is suitable for cleaning various surfaces in the home, such as countertops, tile grout, bathroom fixtures, and kitchen appliances. Oxygen bleach can remove mold, mildew, and soap scum. Oxygen bleach can also effectively remove stubborn stains from carpets and upholstery without damaging the fibers or causing discoloration. Periodic use of oxygen bleach in dishwashers and washing machines can help remove mineral deposits and residues, keeping these appliances clean and functioning optimally.

Similarities Between Chlorine Bleach and Oxygen Bleach

  • Both chlorine bleach and oxygen bleach are bleaching agents.
  • Chlorine bleach and oxygen bleach have disinfecting properties.
  • Both types of bleach are effective at removing stains

Difference Between Chlorine Bleach and Oxygen Bleach


Chlorine bleach is a chemical disinfectant and stain remover that contains sodium hypochlorite and is known for its powerful but potentially fabric-damaging properties, while oxygen bleach is a stain remover and cleaner made from hydrogen peroxide or sodium percarbonate, known for its color-safe and environmentally friendly characteristics.


Chlorine bleach is composed of sodium hypochlorite (NaClO), which contains chlorine ions, while oxygen bleach is typically derived from sodium percarbonate or hydrogen peroxide.

Bleaching Action

Chlorine bleach is a powerful and fast-acting disinfectant and stain remover. However, it can also weaken fabrics over time and may cause discoloration and fading on colored textiles. Oxygen bleach is a milder bleach and is generally safer for most fabrics and colors.


Moreover, chlorine bleach should not be used on colored fabrics or surfaces as it can lead to color fading or damage, whereas oxygen bleach is color-safe and can be used on colored clothing and fabrics without causing fading or damage.


While chlorine bleach has a distinct and often strong chlorine odor, oxygen bleach typically has a milder, less noticeable odor.


Chlorine bleach is a stronger oxidizing agent, whereas oxygen bleach is a milder oxidizing agent.


In brief, chlorine bleach is a potent disinfectant and stain remover but can be harsh on fabrics and surfaces and should not be used on colored items. Oxygen bleach, on the other hand, is gentler, color-safe, and more environmentally friendly, making it a preferred choice for many laundry and cleaning applications. So, this is the main difference between chlorine bleach and oxygen bleach.


1. “What is Oxygen Bleach?” CleanMySpace.
2. “Chlorine Bleach/Sodium Hypochlorite Solution.” Chemical Safety Facts.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Clorox” By Vox Efx from Baltimore, United States – Bleach Bypass Efx (CC BY 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “ Laundry detergent” (CC0) via Pixabay

About the Author: Hasini A

Hasini is a graduate of Applied Science with a strong background in forestry, environmental science, chemistry, and management science. She is an amateur photographer with a keen interest in exploring the wonders of nature and science.

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