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How to Whiten Your Clothes Without Using Bleach

The #1 question I get from famiy, friends and people I meet is “How do you whiten your clothes without bleach?”

It’s really not that hard.

white shirt_savvybrownb_no bleachNow the number one tip I can give for getting and keeping white clothes really white is pre-soaking them in a sink full of water with 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide.

Another great way to get your clothes white is to add 1/4 cup of lemon juice to your load and line dry OUTSIDE. *

That being said, I rarely remember to pre-wash, and it’s winter, so I’m not line drying my clothes outside. So here’s what I do:

What you’ll need:
1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide or 2 tbsps of Ecover Powder Bleach alternative (or 1/4 cup Ecover Liquid Bleach alternative)
3 tbsps Homemade Powder Laundry Detergent
2 scoops Oxo Brite dissolved in warm water (I have a 3.5 lb container that lasts for months, but you can find it smaller here.)

sheets_white_savvy brown_no bleach

Top-load washer instructions:
Pour all ingredients in and let washer fill with warm water. Then add clothes and pause cycle to let the clothes soak for 30 mins. After 30mins I continue washing and drying as usual. (I usually wash warm and rinse cold to save on my hot water bill!)

Front-load washer instructions:
If you have a front loader (like me), add your dingiest clothes first, (in our house that’s socks usually) then fill the washer partway with water, then stop the cycle and add the rest of your white clothes. Start the cycle again and when it beings to churn

Pre-treat stained collars buy spraying hydrogen peroxide directly on them and rubbing them together before throwing them in the laundry. If when I go to wash, they still seem dingy, I’ll make a paste of peroxide and baking soda and rub it on the stain. This works well for underarm stains as well! I only use Hydrogen peroxide on whites and light colored clothing. (It won’t leave those ugly bleach spots either). I use Oxo Brite on my colored wash too.

*Note: Do NOT mix lemon juice and peroxide together in your washer. It will eat holes in your clothes!

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  • How do you get YOUR clothes white without bleach?

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19 thoughts on “How to Whiten Your Clothes Without Using Bleach

  1. Dad is in the House

    Good tips – although I love bleach myself 🙂 I get bunches of hydrogen peroxide at Sam’s Club. All the non-chlorine bleach you buy is either mainly hydrogen peroxide or turns into it in the wash.

  2. Savvy

    Hi there! You’re right. Even the Ecover that I use is hydrogen peroxide and water. I tend to think it’s a little stronger than the kind that I get at the pharmacy. But that’s just my opinion.

  3. Thinice

    I cant wait to try this…I am about to do a load on vacation day. I am really glad I found this site

  4. Oju

    So, If I add 1 cup of Oxi Brite to my homeade laundry detergent recipe, all I will have to do is add 1/2 peroxide per wash right?

  5. Savvy

    If you’re going to add it to your regular laundry detergent, 1/2 cup of Oxi added to your mix should be fine. I personally don’t mix it with my laundry detergent, but that’s just my preference. When washing your whites, try using 1/2 cup of peroxide. And 1 extra scoop of Oxi. Let me know how that goes ok?

  6. Ask Netfah from J&O Fabrics

    It’s funny, have suggested this remedy to customers, but have not yet tried it myself. If it can make my dingy whites brighter while reducing the risk hazards, then I would be a fool not to give it a try. Will let you know how it works out. Thanks for the sharing. Will forward it around!

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  9. stormy

    I’ve been using the homemade detergent for about a year now and all of our whites are super dingy. Will this help me recover them to white again or will it just keep the new whites white? I love natural and healthy but my husband won’t stay on board if his work shirts are looking brown or grey!

  10. thebookwormshaven

    Hi, I would love to try this but I have an HE top loading washer. Could you please make this the dummies way to wash whiter and brighter please. LOL !!! Okay can I use this? How much of what? Where do I put everything? Detergent dispenser,Fabric softner tray, and lastly the Bleach tray.

    Thank you,

  11. Amanda

    I absolutely love this post! I’m alergic to bleach (chlorine) so finding an alternative to it is amazing to me! Thx very much for your effort to get info like this out there!

  12. Gary

    Love finding this page and the recipes for laundry soap (dry and liquid), thanks!

    As an alternative to OXO Brite, you just need a brand (or store brand) of oxygen cleaner that has Sodium Percarbonate and Sodium Carbonate as the ingredients. OxiClean Versatile (www.oxiclean.com) is one. Both OxiClean and Arm & Hammer are brands of Church & Dwight Co (www.churchdwight.com). This page shows exactly the ingredients used: http://tinyurl.com/b6aemue). It’s kind of hard to find unscented versions – they usually have a lemon scent. It’s cheap at Smart & Final or Costco. I get Safeway’s store brand, “Oxygen Pro” as it is unscented and even cheaper. Interesting to note that A&H Super Washing Soda is 85% Sodium Carbonate already! http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/household/brands?tbl=brands&id=3005022

    Sorry to ramble, my Googling took me down the proverbial rabbit’s hole. Now I’m off to make my own laundry detergent, thanks!

  13. Meme

    Hi, miss Savvy, I really appreciate what you are doing, it has been so helpful. But is this process also applicable to when I want to hand wash because most times I usually prefer to hand wash. Thank you

  14. Savvy Brown Post author

    @Meme Thank you! Yes, you can hand wash using this method. Try pre-soaking your whites in the sink with 1/4 cup of peroxide, 2 tbsps OxyBrite or 2 tbsps Ecover and then rinse and hand wash as usual.

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