More ways of using hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is one of the most versatile chemical agents a drycleaner can use. In my consultations I find most drycleaners do not use hydrogen peroxide to its full potential. They use it in a very limited way by applying it to a fabric, adding ammonia and heating. This is not the only way of using hydrogen peroxide nor the best way. Hydrogen peroxide can be used more effectively as a spotting board bleach, pre-spotting agent and a wetcleaning adjunct.


  • Slightly acid but very near to neutral. It decomposes into water and in mild concentrations does not have to be rinsed from the fabric.
  • Accelerated by ammonia and heat.
  • Comes in various strengths
    • 3% 10 volume
    • 6% 20 volume
    • 30%-100 volume
  • Use to remove last traces of tannin, protein, and dye.
  • Use to remove scorch.
  • 3% hydrogen peroxide is safe on fibers and dye when not heated. Stronger concentrations must be tested.


  • 3%, 10 volume. Apply to fabric, add ammonia, heat, flush, neutralize with acid, flush. Test dye and fabric for safety.
  • 6%, 20 volume. Apply to fabric, add ammonia, heat, flush, neutralize with acid, flush. Test fabric and dye before using.
  • Spray method-3%. Spray on fabric and hang. Repeat several times if staining is not removed. This does not have to be rinsed and is relatively safe on fabrics and dyes. This method is also effective for removing yellowing and oxidation.


Hydrogen peroxide can be added to pre-spotting mixtures for removing yellowing and oxidation on shirts and similar items. Mix one part 14% peroxide, 1 part detergent and 4 parts water. Brush on fabric before wetcleaning.


Hydrogen peroxide can be added to a wetcleaning formulation to increase the bleaching potential of the formula. The advantage of using hydrogen peroxide rather than alkali or more sodium perborate is that it reduces the amount of sour necessary to neutralize load.


Hydrogen peroxide can be very effective as a bath bleach for fabrics such as wool and silk. It is also useful as a color safe bleach on fabrics that might be affected by perborate or sodium percarbonate. Add 2 ounces 6% hydrogen peroxide per gallon of water. Add 1 ounce of a lubricant per gallon of water. Soak garment in solution for 45 minutes and then rinse.

Dan Eisen

Dan Eisen

Dan Eisen, former chief garment analyst for the National Cleaners Association, offers lecture, consultation and garment analysis service. He is the author of The Art of Spotting. He can be reached at (772) 340-0909, by email at or through his website at Dan Eisen, 274 NW Toscane Trail, Port Saint Lucie, FL 34986.

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