I tend to be pretty obsessive-compulsive, and OxiClean is quite effective at cleaning, so it’s little surprise that I use it religiously.
But what is OxiClean, anyway? Oxygen, of course. I never really thought it through enough to realize that my image of it as powdered oxygen made no sense at all. (And if oxygen had such powerful cleaning effects, wouldn’t allowing your clothes to be in contact with air clean them?)
Wikipedia to the rescue: OxiClean is primarily sodium percarbonate, a “water-soluble adduct of sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide.” Notably, when mixed with water, you end up with soda ash and hydrogen peroxide. Soda ash, also known as sodium carbonate, is a strong base (as opposed to acid) helpful in softening water, neutralizing pH in acidic solutions, removing flesh from dead animals, inducing vomiting in dogs, and cleaning silver. Hydrogen peroxide, of course, is a bleaching agent. It’s also acidic and apparently useful in rocketry as a propellant. (According to Wikipedia, it is also used to whiten bones for display, which suggests that soaking a dead animal in OxiClean may simultaneously remove its skin from the bones and whiten the bones!)