Are you not a fan of any bleaching detergent? Having discolored garments caused by bleach might have convinced you never to use it again.
The good news is you can still have fresh and stain-free fabrics without using bleach. Keep reading below to learn how to whiten clothes without bleach!
If you want a natural cleaning agent, white vinegar is included in the list. Not only can it kill germs, but it is also effective in breaking down stains and whitening clothes. Also, it can eliminate detergent residues that make white clothes look dull.
However, you should be careful in using white vinegar. Because it is acetic, it can weaken and damage the fibers of your garments if used too much. As much as possible, never pour it directly onto your clothes. Instead, combine it with water to dilute.
Here are the steps in using white vinegar as a bleaching agent:
- Combine 1 cup of distilled white vinegar with 1 gallon of hot water
- Pour the solution into a large basin
- Soak your clothes overnight
- After soaking, do your laundry as usual
- Put a cup of white vinegar during the rinse cycle of the clothes
- Hang the clothes under the sun
There is good news if you are worried about the smell staying on the clothes. Once the clothes dry up, the smell of vinegar will also disappear.
Pro Tips: White vinegar can whiten clothes made of cotton and be used every day. It can remove ketchup stains, mustard stains, grass stains, and deodorant stains.
Lemon juice, with its acidic nature, is effective at breaking down alkaline stains and can brighten fabrics.
Aside from making your whites whiter, it can also eliminate pungent and musty smells. One of the wonders of lemon juice is that it can neutralize odors, giving your clothes a fresher scent.
Since lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent, it can harm your colored clothes. To be safe, use it on your white clothes only. But if you want to try it on your colored clothes, you can perform a spot test.
Follow the steps below:
- Slice and squeeze four lemons to get ½ cup of lemon juice
- Combine ½ cup of lemon juice with 1 gallon of hot water
- Soak your clothes in the mixture for one hour or overnight
- Do your regular laundry after soaking the clothes
- Wring the wet garments and hang them on the clothesline
You can also combine lemon juice with other stain removers and bleaching agents. Combining it with salt and baking soda will give you the best results.
Pro Tips: Lemon juice has remarkable effects on white cotton, linen, and polyester fibers. It can also eliminate stains caused by body sweat, paint, lipstick, coffee, and wine.
If you don’t want a bleaching detergent because of sensitive skin, baking soda is the best option! It is a natural mineral that won’t harm your skin.
Hard water is one of the reasons why clothes look tarnished even after washing. Luckily, baking soda has antiseptic properties. Hence, it can prevent dinginess, making your garments look brighter.
Baking soda whitens clothes, but it is not advisable to use protein-based fabrics like wool, silk, and cashmere. If overused, baking soda can cause stiffness and rigidity in these materials.
Using baking soda as a substitute for bleaching detergent is easy:
- Pour 1 cup of baking soda into 1 gallon of boiling water
- Remove the mixture from heat, then pour it on your clothes
- Leave them for an hour or overnight
- Wash the clothes and hang them dry
You can add baking soda to your laundry detergent to boost efficiency. However, don’t put excessive baking soda in your washer since it can leave white residue on your garments.
Pro Tips: You can use baking soda in any fabric except keratin-based cashmere, silk, and wool. It can eliminate oil, grease, and food stains.
Aside from its efficiency in removing stains, hydrogen peroxide makes clothes whiter. It also works on dull-colored clothes caused by body soils and detergent residues. This mild form of bleach can also help you extinguish the unpleasant odors on your clothes.
It is dangerous to combine hydrogen peroxide with chlorine bleach and ammonia. Also, you need to use newly-opened hydrogen peroxide if you want it to do its work.
Whether you are dealing with white or colored clothes, do this:
- Pour 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide into the washer
- Fill the washer with water and put your regular load of clothes
- Launder your garments as you usually do
- Dry your clothes under the sun
If your washer has a bleach dispenser, you can place the hydrogen peroxide there.
Pro Tips: It is safe to use hydrogen peroxide with all washable and dye-stable fabrics. Some of the stains that it can remove are mildew, and fruit and vegetable stains.
Since borax has sodium content, it can soften the hard water. It can prevent your white clothes from looking gray and dingy. Adding borax separately to your clothes won’t cause any problems. Borax can eliminate excess detergent that causes your garments to have dull colors.
If you have borax, make sure that it is out of reach of children. It causes serious health problems when ingested. Some countries in Europe banned it because the hazardous content affects reproductive health.
Here is how to use borax:
- Dissolve ½ cup of powdered borax on one gallon of warm water
- Soak the white clothes once the powder has dissolved
- Leave them for 30 minutes or more
- Launder your clothes as usual and dry them
Pro Tips: Fortunately, borax can work on all kinds of fabrics. Borax is a good solution if you deal with stains like grease, grass, dirt, blood, and tomato sauce.
One of the cheapest ways of whitening your clothes is by using dish soap. It is less costly compared to bleaching detergents. Aside from that, you won’t need to use a lot of dish soap.
A tiny amount can make your clothes whiter and brighter. You won’t also have a problem pouring dish soap on delicate fibers. Compared to laundry detergent, it is more gentle.
If you are using the washer, make sure that you only put a tiny dish soap. Putting excessive dish soap can leave more suds that can damage your washer. Also, it can be too foamy that can cause a mess in your area.
Using dish soap is pretty straightforward:
- Fill your washer with water and add one teaspoon of dish soap for a small load
- Do your laundry as usual
- Dry your clothes by hanging on the clothesline
- Once dry, fold them immediately
Add two teaspoons of dish soap for medium load and three teaspoons for a large load. You can also add lavender oil if you want your clothes to have a more pleasant scent.
Pro Tips: You can use dish soap on any fabric, even delicate ones like silk and wool. It can remove stains like grease, blueberries, and tomato sauce.
Nothing can beat the benefit of the heat coming from the sun! It is a free and effective bleaching agent for clothes. Not only can it make whites whiter, but it can also bring a fresh smell to your clothes. Also, it helps in disinfecting clothes and killing germs and bacteria.
If you let your colored clothes hang under direct sunlight for a long time, their color may fade. Instead of making them brighter, the UV rays coming from the sun can make them white.
You can bleach your clothes with sunlight by doing these:
- After washing and rinsing your clothes, wring them so that they’ll easily dry up
- As you hang your clothes, put a little space on each of them for air circulation
- Attach clothespins on small garments like underwear
- As soon as the fabric dried up, take them off and fold
For the colored clothes, it is better if you will hang them under the shade. The direct heat of the sunlight can make their colors fade.
Pro Tips: The best fabrics to dry under the sun are natural fabrics like wool, wool blends, and cotton. You can also hang acrylic, polyester, and nylon since they are unlikely to fade.
But prevent putting silk and linen directly under the sun because they may fade quickly. The UV rays are also effective in getting rid of oil and grease stains.
Although bleach detergent can make your clothes whiter, it can harm sensitive skin. Also, it can damage delicate fibers and cause discoloration to colored garments.
However, there are ways how to whiten clothes without bleach. They are less costly and more environmentally friendly. You can find them inside your house.
Jessica Oliver is a fashion enthusiast with more than ten years of experience in the industry. She previously managed her own clothing store in New York before becoming a mother of three. With a passion for sustainability and a desire to share clothing care and recycling tips.