First let’s look at the optimum parameters necessary for either of these oxidizers to perform it purpose which is to de-stain and whiten fabrics.
Temperature range: around 150
Ph range: around 10.5
Temperature range: around 180
Ph range: around 11.0
As you can see from the operating parameters, chlorine bleach requires lower temperatures and a lower ph to effectively perform than compared to hydrogen peroxide. Depending on the environment, this can be an advantage or disadvantage. The parameters can be manipulated for either oxidizer to work in less than optimum conditions. Higher alkalinity and higher ph impedes chlorine bleach’s ability to destain and whiten while the converse is true with hydrogen peroxide. Higher alkalinity and higher ph improves hydrogen peroxide’s ability to destain and whiten. In lower temperature environments, chlorine bleach can perform but a lower alkalinity and ph will be necessary while for hydrogen peroxide to perform in a lower temperature environment, higher alkalinity and ph will be needed.
In my opinion, chlorine bleach is generally a better destainer and whitener than hydrogen peroxide. It will attack a broader spectrum of stains than will hydrogen peroxide. However, the aggressive nature of chlorine bleach has some disadvantages. In the healthcare market, chlorine bleach reacts adversely with products containing CHG (chlorhexidine gluconate, an anti-microbial) to create a permanent stain. Products containing CHG are being used more extensively in the healthcare market. If the CHG cannot be completely washed from the fabric prior to chlorine bleaching, a permanent tan to pinkish stain will be created. In tunnel environments where short cycle times prevail, it is not always possible to remove CHG prior to chlorine bleaching. Where CHG staining is a problem, hydrogen peroxide has an advantage because hydrogen peroxide does not react adversely with CHG. Chlorine bleach can be corrosive to stainless steel. Again, in tunnel applications where there is a standing bath of chlorine bleach, the potential for corrosion exists. The stainless steel compartments where chlorine is injected might be subjected to the exposure to chlorine bleach 24-7. Hydrogen peroxide is not corrosive to stainless steel. Where corrosion is a concern, hydrogen peroxide has the advantage. Chlorine bleach can also remove color from colored linens. Hydrogen peroxide is less likely to remove color. Sometimes the washing environment might favor one oxidizer over another. Again, this is usually in tunnels. It may be difficult to get down to the temperature and ph range to favor chlorine bleach. The use of hydrogen peroxide might match up better in tunnel conditions.
There are just some stains that hydrogen peroxide will not remove. Hydrogen peroxide does not remove mildew stains nor does so very slowly. In operations that process fabrics used in the food service industry, chlorine bleach is probably the oxidizer of choice. Chlorine bleach is generally more cost effective. 12% chlorine bleach is about half the cost of 35% hydrogen peroxide. As indicated in the operating conditions, chlorine bleach can be used a lower temperature. Therefore, the energy costs might be somewhat lower with chlorine bleach.
Each operation has its own unique conditions. Both chlorine bleach and hydrogen peroxide have their place in the market.
Manager of Market Development
GURTLER INDUSTRIES, INC.