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There are a lot of very effective ways and recipes for washing clothes without harsh detergents, but is it possible to whiten whites without bleach? Is that even a real question? Of course, there is a way! There are more ways than one.

Now, perhaps some may be wondering why one would want to whiten whites without bleach. Bleach can irritate their skin, eyes, and lungs. It can poison fish and harm beneficial insects. And, like so many of today’s “cleaning” chemicals, it has carcinogenic tendencies.

These alternatives, however, come from natural ingredients. They won’t be so detrimental to the environment and our bodies. They are easy to make at home, very inexpensive, and effective. In the simplest of terms, they are cleaner, better methods for looking bright white.

1. Baking Soda

For those who make DIY cleaning products or DIY toiletries, it should come as no great shock that baking soda is effective for whitening whites. It can be used to competently do just about anything: make toothpaste, scrub tile, deodorize, or test soil pH.

In order to work with the whites, a half a cup of baking soda added to the regular laundry load will handle the typically whitening. For stains, it’s easy to make a baking soda paste, just a bit of baking soda and water, to put right onto the stain.

2. White Vinegar

The other mainstay of the DIY cleaner is vinegar, and though they are distinctly different, vinegar and baking soda can accomplish many similar tasks. Vinegar will whiten and soften laundry. It’s also great for disinfecting counters or cleaning windows.

To use vinegar for the whites, it’s as simple adding half a cup of it to the regular load. It can also be applied directly to stains, even armpit stains. Lots of people like to keep it in a spray bottle near the laundry basket to give things a spritz before putting them in the dirty clothes.

Any concern about the vinegar smell will dissipate as the clothing dries.

3. Lemon Juice

How to Whiten Whites Without Chlorine Bleach


It’s funny, but the same useful culprits come up again and again in DIY recipes. Citrus juices, particularly lemon, are very commonly used for cleaning. In addition to polishing silverware, freshening up the overall aroma and cleaning grills, lemons can be used to whiten laundry.

Again, just half a cup of lemon juice added to the normal wash cycle will help with brightening whites. Some people like soak linens in a warm bath of water with sliced lemons in it.

4. Sunshine

Gone are the days of hanging the laundry out, but for those who do it, there are few things as refreshingly pleasing as the scent of sheets hung out to dry. They flip in the wind and pick up the real scent of nature rather than a chemical version.

Utilizing the sun this way also helps with whitening the whites. The sun, as is evident with just about anything left in it—a tarp, car paint, house siding, clothes – will bleach things over time. Hanging out the laundry is both better for the environment (dryers are energy hogs) and our fabrics.

5. Hydrogen Peroxide

Though high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide can be harmful and poisonous, it is still a pretty common item, diluted to a safe and mild solution, to find in medicine cabinets. In essence, hydrogen peroxide is a non-chlorine bleach.

Often used as a disinfectant on cuts or for whitening teeth, hydrogen peroxide — again, half a cup — can be added to the whites for some brightening power. Some folks might not consider this as natural a solution the others on the list, but it is another viable and respected option.

In other words, we don’t need that toxic bleach! We can have white whites without the chemicals. Why wouldn’t we choose to use the cleaner, safer and environmentally friendlier options when they are cheap and so readily available?

Lead image source: Didecs/Shutterstock