7 Ways to Whiten Clothes without Bleach


Bleach can be horrible to deal with; it smells terrible, can be dangerous if you get it in your eyes or wounds, and it isn’t exactly great for the environment. But you can’t argue with its whitening results. Fortunately, you can turn to alternative ways to whiten clothes without ever relying on bleach—many are household items.

If you’re sick of using bleach and want some environmentally friendly options, turn to these solutions that can whiten clothes, too.

Ways to Whiten Clothes Without Bleach

There are a surprising number of single-note products and mixtures that can whiten clothing, without the help of bleach. And it just so happens that most, if not all, are products you can find in your very home.

1. Baking Soda

Baking soda is a triple-threat kind of solution. For starters, it can help eliminate odor if you add it with your detergent—that’s why people tend to hide baking soda in their refrigerator. Secondly, it helps whiten your clothing by being a boosting agent, scrubbing away dirt and grime along with your detergent. And lastly, it can be mixed with water to form a paste, which you can then apply to a problematic stain.

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2. Hydrogen Peroxide

Yes, the disinfectant solution, hydrogen peroxide, can be used to white clothes. What’s great about hydrogen peroxide is: 1) it’s cheap, and 2) it’s an oxidizing agent, which bleach uses too. However, hydrogen peroxide can be used on any kind of clothing, even dyed clothing, and it doubles as environmentally-friendly.

As a side note, don’t mix hydrogen peroxide with bleach. They both have oxidizing agents and bleach has the stronger stuff, nullifying the oxidizing agent in hydrogen peroxide.

3. Dishwater Detergent

Believe it or not, dishwater detergent has similar ingredients that are responsible for cleaning your dishes. Apply a small amount of dishwater detergent to your laundry and it will do its job of whitening your clothing and removing any stains. It’s great if you need a pinch-hitter.

4. Vinegar

Vinegar—distilled white vinegar—just so happens to be really good at softening fabrics. But, more importantly, it can whiten your clothing. It also has a bonus effect that can destroy any mildew smell stuck to your laundry (especially towels).

5. Vinegar and Lemon

Vinegar by itself is already a great whitening solution, but vinegar and lemon? These two MVPs mixed together can create one heck of a pre-soak whitening mixture. Mix one cup of each together, soak your favorite shirt, then toss the clothing into the washer as normal with your preferred laundry detergent.

6. Borax and Vinegar

One of the main ingredients in laundry detergent is Borax. However, if you take Borax and mix it with vinegar, you can create a paste that can provide an excellent stain remover solution. Apply the paste to the stained area and let it set. Afterwards, toss the article of clothing into the wash like usual.

7. The Star in our Solar System

Sol, the sun, the star in our solar system—whatever you want to call it—can whiten your clothes. Have you ever noticed how bleached fabric gets if left out in the sun for prolonged periods of time? Consider using that to your advantage. Obviously you shouldn’t leave your clothes out there for hours, but on a hot day when the sun is high, hang your clothes up to dry and the sun will give it a healthy dose of rays.

It’s Bad to Have Stains!

Overtime, white clothes can start to lose their whiteness and this isn’t a good look. Brown white clothes don’t impress any so it’s important that you keep them looking crisp white throughout their lifetime. Making sure your clothes are fully cleaned is important to any who takes pride in their fashion. Making sure you know how to deal with certain types of laundry is a crucial skill that every home owner should have.

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Tips and Tricks on Whitening Your Clothes

Now that you’ve got a laundry list—pun intended—of different solutions to use other than bleach, here’s a few tips and tricks that you should take advantage of to enhance the longevity of your clothing’s color.

1. Don’t Knock the Pre-soak

Solutions like vinegar and lemon is an excellent way of whitening your clothes without bleach, but the power comes directly from soaking the clothing in the solution before you toss it into the washer. If you have clothing that’s constantly being bombarded by stains or losing its white coloring, don’t knock the pre-soak solution with your preferred solution. It may very well save your favorite shirt.

2. Dry Your Clothes with Low Heat

A mistake people often make is drying their clothes at such high heat. Sure, it speeds up the process of drying clothes, but the price is that any missed stains can get burned into the fabric. The end result is the stain can then never be removed; it’s there to stay. This is especially problematic on white clothing because of how easy it is to see yellow or dark spots. To lengthen the lifeline of your clothing, dry on low heat.

3. Invest in a Brush

Some of the solutions listed in the previous section could get a boost in their effectiveness if you scrub the stained area. Use a soft scrub brush to gently agitate the area. In doing so, the brisles will be able to transfer the whitening solution to deeper areas and provide a whiter area.

4. Bleach is ONLY for Cotton

Everyone on Earth must have forgotten in some strange collective memory loss event, but bleach isn’t meant for all of your clothing. In fact, it should only be used on cotton. Have you ever noticed some of your white clothing turning yellow, even though you whiten them often? The root cause is likely your bleach. Check the tag; chances are it won’t say ‘cotton.’

Bottom Line

As you can see, there’s all kinds of solutions that can be a stand-in for bleach, and all of them are viable choices. No need to deal with bleach if you don’t want to. But the best part is that most, if not all, the options available can be found in your own home! Who doesn’t have vinegar or hydrogen peroxide in their home? Just don’t go using aspirin as an alternative; it doesn’t work.