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The Secrets to Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

One of the first things you discover when learning to do laundry is how challenging cleaning whites can be. If not, your white clothes will slowly change colors and become less white than the original. However, many people turn to harsh and dangerous chemicals like bleach to keep their clothes looking new.

If you want to clean your whites without using bleach, keep reading. Today, we’ll share some secrets to help get the job done. Let’s get started!

Should You Try a Bleach Alternative for Cleaning Whites?

While bleach has been the choice for many people to keep their clothes white, there are many reasons why you shouldn’t use it. Bleach is powerful, and the oxidation between the liquid and your clothes can break down the fibers, ultimately ruining your clothes. It may remove stains, but it can leave them looking yellow. 

Not only is bleach potentially harmful to your clothes, but your health and the environment. Bleach can cause skin and eye irritation, coughing, burns, and more. It can even weaken an individual’s immune system and cause respiratory issues over the long term.

Many people realize humans’ impact on the Earth, including the chemicals we use. Bleach can have damaging effects when it gets into the environment. Animals and vegetation can die as a direct result of exposure to bleach.

Luckily, some safer alternatives can help reduce the risks to your clothes, your health, and the environment.

Mom and daughter washing laundry
Kick the harsh chemicals to the curb when washing your whites.

#1 White Vinegar

White vinegar is a popular cleaning agent with many different purposes, including cleaning whites. Simply add ½ cup of white vinegar into the wash with your clothes. This will not only keep your whites looking like new but also help eliminate odors. If you want to create an extra-strong solution, mix lemon juice, Borax, and white vinegar with your clothes. This can provide some fantastic results.

#2 Baking Soda

Baking soda is one of the most versatile cleaning products people have in their homes. Helping your white clothes maintain their original color is one of the many possible uses. If you don’t already have some baking soda, it’s readily available at most grocery stores and big-box retailers like Walmart. Aside from being readily available, it’s also incredibly inexpensive.

To use baking soda, add ½ cup to each load along with your usual laundry detergent. Using this method from the start is best to avoid any coloring issues with your clothes. It’s easier to keep them white than to restore them.

In addition, baking soda makes for a fantastic spot treatment for stubborn stains. Create a paste by mixing water and baking soda and use a soft-bristle brush to scrub the paste into the soiled area.

#3 Lemon Juice

When life gives you lemons, do some laundry. Right? To keep your whites looking white, simply add ½ cup of lemon juice with your detergent every time you do a load of laundry. This method is highly effective and will leave your clothes as white as new and smelling fresh.

Another great way to use lemon juice is to let the clothes soak in the liquid. Slice a lemon and place the lemon slices into a pot of boiling water. Take the boiling lemon water off the burner and put the soiled clothes inside. Let the clothes soak for 45 to 60 minutes before you toss them into the washing machine.

Lemon juice is a highly effective way to remove stains, help your clothes maintain their original color, and to have a fresh scent. It’s far more useful than a refreshing glass of ice-cold lemonade.

#4 Hydrogen Peroxide

You don’t want to use hydrogen peroxide on colored fabrics. But it’s an excellent option for cleaning your whites. You can typically find this at any drug or grocery store. Dumping ½ cup into a whites cycle can provide some fantastic results. 

Hydrogen peroxide helps whiten, deodorize, and also disinfect your clothes. Ensure you’re only using 3% hydrogen peroxide, or you could risk damaging your clothes. This method only requires a few seconds of your time, and you likely already have some hydrogen peroxide in a medicine cabinet in your home.

For stubborn stains on your whites, allow the clothes to sit in the hydrogen peroxide for 30 to 60 minutes. Soaking them can enable the peroxide more time to do its job and fight the stain.

Pro Tip: If you live in an RV, these 5 Best RV Washer Dryer Combos will make doing laundry on the road easier.

Woman washing white clothes without bleach
Common household products, like baking soda and lemon juice, can keep your clothes looking like you just bought them.

#5 Sunshine

While sitting out in the harmful UV rays may be risky for you and your skin, letting your whites sit in the sun can keep them white. If you have stubborn stains or notice color changes in your whites, lay them out in the sun. You can use a drying rack or clothesline, but the goal is to give them as much direct sun exposure as possible. The longer they sit in the sun, the better.

Another benefit of using this method to dry your clothes is that you can save money by not having to run your dryer. You don’t have to buy any extra chemicals, and your electric bill will go down. So why not give it a shot?

#6 Dishwasher Detergent

While you won’t want to toss your clothes into the dishwasher, its detergent can effectively clean whites. For this method, you’ll need to adjust how much dishwasher soap you use based on the load size. Typically, a full load will require a cup of dishwasher detergent. If you use too much, you could have a sudsy disaster.

Dump the appropriate amount of powdered dishwasher detergent into the wash with your whites. Let your washing machine fill to the point that it starts agitating the load. Once it does, pause your washing machine and let it sit overnight. Set a reminder to finish the cycle first thing in the morning.

#7 Borax

Borax is a key ingredient in many cleaning solutions and is wonderful for keeping your whites looking like the day you bought them. In addition to keeping your whites white, it helps colored fabrics keep their color and is excellent at deodorizing clothes. 

Simply place ½ cup of Borax into your laundry to use this method. Place the cleaning agent directly into the wash with your clothes and not into a detergent dispenser. Use your regular detergent and run a wash cycle on normal.

Pro Tip: Hang your freshly washed whites on an RV Clothesline while on the road.

Bleach Alternative Can Keep Your Clothes Just as White

Wearing white clothes can make a bold fashion statement. However, if those clothes don’t look new or bright, they could send the wrong message. Luckily, you don’t have to use harsh or dangerous chemicals to keep your clothes looking fresh.

Try some of these bleach alternatives and see how they help your clothes look new. If you find a method you like, keep plenty on hand so you can always give your clothes the best shot at looking new after each load of laundry.

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