Definition of bleach in US English:

bleach

verb

[with object]
  • 1Whiten by exposure to sunlight or by a chemical process.

    ‘permed and bleached hair’
    ‘paper products are bleached with chlorine’
    • ‘Her hair was bleached blonde and swaying at her hips.’
    • ‘Somehow here, this battered and bleached hut is home to many poor people; they live off begged and stolen food, in a room blackened by the smoke of the struggling stove.’
    • ‘Morgan stopped and looked up into the sky, the moon shining directly on his long hair, bleaching it so white, he looked like his brother.’
    • ‘His features were similarly pleasant: dark brown hair, some strands bleached a lighter shade by the sun, intelligent eyes, and a strong nose and mouth.’
    • ‘Up to 75% of those who develop dermatitis are left with discoloured or bleached skin.’
    • ‘It is also possible to bleach paper through an oxidation process that uses no chlorine at all.’
    • ‘They say the boots are the perfect finishing touch for their artificial tans, bleached hair, white make-up and bright scanty skirts.’
    • ‘Sodium chlorite, hypochlorite, perborate, and peroxide are used to bleach paper, cotton, and rayon.’
    • ‘Paper is traditionally bleached with chlorine and chemicals derived from it (such as chlorine dioxide).’
    • ‘With each piece of bleached, dead coral washed ashore, the marine ecosystem comes that much closer to being a watery wasteland.’
    • ‘The solution used to bleach hair softens and swells the cuticles cells, but it also contain hydrogen peroxide to release oxygen.’
    • ‘The whole process involved first bleaching my hair to a shade lighter than my natural jet-black, and then applying the blue hair colour.’
    • ‘He had bleached his hair almost white and spiked it into a number of horns all over his head.’
    • ‘Mickey had short bleached-blonde hair and a sandpapery growth of stubble on his chin.’
    • ‘Thick, tousled hair bleached a near white from excessive sunlight twisted about his head, whipping and snagging in the wind's grasp.’
    • ‘CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta says some people have become tooth-bleaching junkies.’
    • ‘Everything (including most of the people) looked a bit bleached and tired in the hazy sunshine, an effect which is easily remedied by donning sunglasses with a brown tint.’
    • ‘In the early 1990s, 46 of the 145 pulp mills in Canada used various chlorine bleaching processes to whiten paper.’
    • ‘I had to gather it up and wash and bleach it to get the muddy paw prints out of the sheets.’
    • ‘The problem is that if you used a home hair color kit to obtain a lighter color, your hair has been bleached and colored in a single process.’
    make white, turn white, whiten, make pale, turn pale, make pallid, turn pallid, blanch, lighten, fade, wash out, decolour, decolorize, peroxide, etiolate
    become white, go white, grow white, turn white, whiten, become pale, go pale, grow pale, turn pale, pale, become pallid, go pallid, grow pallid, turn pallid, blanch, lose its colour, be washed out, lighten, fade, blench
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Deprive of vitality or substance.
      ‘his contributions to the album are bleached of personality’
      • ‘That is what makes it so clear that the conditional sentence I cited is in fact bleached of its conditionality.’
      • ‘Now that the party's deputy leader has announced she will not stand in next year's Assembly elections, the party is to be stripped of its only eminent woman and bleached of its last shade of green.’
      • ‘A large colour photograph from his shack dweller series has been bleached of its content, the sitter a vague outline, a ghostly presence leached from the scene.’
      • ‘Those answers mean a lot, Mosley says, because it's troubling when biracial people seem to bleach away their blackness with European pride.’
      • ‘In their universe all is bland, bloodless, bleached of character.’
      • ‘Nikki is a kind of deflated Aussie version of a femme fatale, a strung-out blonde bimbo whose entire personality seems bleached of energy and thought.’
      • ‘I am now standing outside Iona Abbey (although the island is much smaller and flatter than I remember, seemingly bleached of some of its character and wild aspects).’
      • ‘If we try and expunge all the bits that don't fit with a controlled or rational model of the mind, we end up with something that's bleached of interest.’
  • 2Clean and sterilize.

    ‘a new formula to bleach and brighten clothing’
    • ‘I'm very careful about what I eat and drink; I bleach everything in the condo, I wash my clothes carefully.’
    • ‘Pat washes off the dissection tray in the lab sink and puts it back on the table; bleaches the table as well because the teacher told him to.’
    • ‘It wasn't that bad but we do tend to leave boxes out there that won't fit in the bin and they needed to go, we finished the job off by bleaching and hosing everything down so it's all lovely and clean now.’
    • ‘Between the two of us, we scrubbed and wiped and bleached that entire apartment clean over that night and the better part of the next day.’
    • ‘Baths foreman Frank Hardcastle had a four-day job of cleaning the tiles and bleaching the pool floor.’
    • ‘My mother bleached that damned doll five times, washed it solidly for two days before she would hand it over.’
    • ‘Of those that use a dishcloth or sponge, a third disinfect, boil or bleach it to keep it clean - the most effective methods.’
    • ‘This can be made clean by bleaching it, boiling it and filtering it.’
    • ‘If your grout (the material put between tiles to finish the surface and seal against leakage) is discolored, you might want to try and bleach and scrub it clean.’
    • ‘Hong Kong newspapers show city workers hosing down walkways, disinfecting escalator railings and bleaching public washrooms.’
    • ‘Then wash the bleached area with warm water and let it dry.’
    • ‘Hoovered, washed up and bleached the bathroom, then headed out to work.’

noun

  • A chemical (typically a solution of sodium hypochlorite or hydrogen peroxide) used to whiten or sterilize materials.

    • ‘Also discovered was a clay-like substance shaped to look like plastic explosive, bleach and a note questioning airline security, according to a law enforcement source.’
    • ‘This technique means that wherever they make chlorine, they make sodium hydroxide, too, and generally they go on to make sodium hypochlorite bleach for you, too.’
    • ‘Some people use cleaners like bleach, not knowing that it is useless in a barn.’
    • ‘Liquid bleach used in the laundry is an alkaline solution of hypochlorite ion.’
    • ‘Be familiar with and observe safety guidelines when working with hazardous chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and bleach.’
    • ‘This fabric may yellow so it should be bleached frequently with sodium perborate bleach.’
    • ‘An EU ruling makes it illegal to supply hydrogen peroxide bleach at over 0.1 per cent concentration.’
    • ‘The thread can withstand machine washing without bleach, but should not be ironed directly.’
    • ‘Disinfect bathrooms and basement walls with a disinfectant solution such as diluted bleach.’
    • ‘I would like to acknowledge the antimicrobial foams and dilute bleach solutions that are helping to disinfect the rest of the building.’
    • ‘How can I get all those stains out of my wash without bleach?’
    • ‘She poured two litres of concentrated bleach down the loo and down the sink and down the plug hole in the bath, but the smell just got worst.’
    • ‘If your seedlings succumbed to any diseases last year, make sure the containers are rinsed with a 10% solution of bleach to kill off any remaining spores.’
    • ‘For successful inactivation of both organism and toxin, both bleach and sodium hydroxide must be applied for a total of 40 minutes.’
    • ‘Hong Kong's health chief has said the virus is highly infectious, but can be killed by a solution of common household bleach.’
    • ‘Be warned, though - many of the more extreme techniques incorporate the use of hydrogen peroxide bleach and are not endorsed under EU laws.’
    • ‘Use a stiff brash to scrub feeders thoroughly with a 10 percent bleach solution (one part bleach to nine parts warm water), then rinse them well and wipe them dry.’
    • ‘You can also use bleach or a diluted solution that contains bleach, but you may want to use soap and water afterwards so that the strong smell doesn't irritate your child's nose.’
    • ‘If you notice any mildew, it should be washed off with a solution of 1 part bleach and 3 parts water and rinsed thoroughly.’
    • ‘Mildew can be eliminated by simply adding a small amount of household bleach to the cleaning solution.’

Origin

Old English blǣcan (verb), blǣce (noun), from blǣc ‘pale’, of Germanic origin; related to bleak.

Pronunciation

bleach

/blēCH//blitʃ/