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My whites are dull, because I wash my clothes in lake water. How do I get them bright? I don't really want to use bleach.
Try adding some borax or oxyclean to your detergent. If that's not possible, hang your wash to dry in bright sunlight--natural bleach.
Lemon juice and baking soda in any wash cycle work wonders. I am careful about the lemon juice with bright colors, however. The baking soda can go with any load. I love it because the clothes always, always smell so fresh as well as come out so clean and bright!
Once a month, I toss a dishwasher tab in with my whites. Brightens them up nicely.
I use borax and vinegar but my favorite product for whites is liquid bluing. It is sold on the top shelf of the laundry isle at most supermarkets and has saved many a yellow shirt that used to be white from the wastebasket or rag pile.
The crazy part is that its what your grandma used to dye her grey hair to make it sparkle and its perfectly non toxic and 100% biodegradable. I know a woman with beautiful long grey braids that dips the ends in it at full strength. Its quite stunning.
Warning: do NOT get on other clothes besides whites and follow bottle instructions to the letter! It washes out eventually but at full strength it can take forever!
I don't use bleach, so how do I remove yellow spots on white shirts?
Do you know what caused the stain? You could try a mixture of laundry detergent and baking soda and rub it in then rinse.
You can soak overnight in 5 gallons of hot water to which you have added 2 T each of hydrogen peroxide and powdered dishwasher detergent. Wash as usual in the morning.
Try baking soda and water.
If white cotton, try toothpaste with whitener and a toothbrush. That often works. Also if you soak in water over night with a tablet of denture cleaner. It is very good at taking out stains (also works well on removing stains in the toilet too)
Since we do not know what type of fabric, what may have caused the stains, where the stains are located, or if shirts have been dried we can only offer the usual solutions so I hope one of the suggestions offered will work for you.
Have you tried placing shirts in sunshine and continuously wetting the yellow spots? Sometimes this is all that is needed but it may take a day or so to remove the stains (leave out overnight in open for dew to keep it damp/wet).
Here is a link to a web site that offers suggestions for all types of fabric:
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Does anyone have any tips of how to get white clothes whiter without using bleach? Mine get really dingy over time.
By Hobbes63 from Middletown, PA
Rit dye has a white dye. Try that. You can get Rit at WalMart and grocery stores. (04/07/2009)
Once a month I toss a dishwasher soap tab in with my whites, they sparkle. (04/08/2009)
I have someone that doesn't want to use bleach and would like to know what to do. I know Tide is good to keep things white, but it is not good for sensitive skin.
Lynett from Iowa
If you're lucky enough to live where there's sunshine, the UV rays will naturally bleach and disinfect your whites and light colors, if you hang your things outdoors to dry.
In place of bleach, you can also use Oxy-clean or the dollar store knock-off. (That's the ingredient in most "color safe" bleaches.) Just don't use Oxy-clean in the same load with chlorine bleach.
I've never had the problem of bleach yellowing my things, and why would socks that are bleached yellow anything else that's white, it just doesn't make sense. (11/07/2008)
I have found that Amaze (soap) which can be purchased at any grocery store to be good. (11/09/2008)
I splash a bit of hydrogen peroxide in each load. It does the same thing as OxyClean, and is much cheaper! Usually half cup per full load should work beautifully. (11/10/2008)
I think the most important thing is to keep the whites separate from all colors, and if you have anything that is particularly dirty (ie., baseball uniform pants encrusted with red dirt), wash those separately from the other whites. I don't think socks will yellow underwear, unless the socks are very dirty.
Any and all of the suggestions given will work, but some might work better in the type of water you have than others.
Try them all until you find something that really works well for you. Don't combine them, though, as some combos might cancel each other out, or create dangerous fumes.
If you have a problem with whites turning yellow, you can use an old fashioned product called bluing. Mrs. Stewarts is the only brand of this that I have ever seen. It is in the laundry aisle. Use according to directions on the bottle, and it will make your yellowed whites bright. (11/10/2008)
To the person who wondered why bleach causes some whites to yellow: fabric blends like cotton/polyester will yellow when bleach is used on them. 100% cotton won't. It is the bleach reacting with the man-made fabric that causes the problem. Check your labels before using bleach. (11/11/2008)
I recently had to wash my white cotton curtains because they were turning yellow. I used baking soda and was very pleased with the results. Bright white curtains again. (11/12/2008)
Awhile back I decided to start eliminating chemicals from my home. I noticed that cleaning products made my hands turn red and crack and my body itched and had red splotches from my clothes. I typically try to buy and wear only 100% cotton so that made laundry easy. This is how I wash my clothes:
Watch out, the baking soda will foam over if you add it too fast. I stir until dissolved and toss in my whites. I mash everything in so all the clothes are soaking and let the water cool. I then add the pre-soaked whites to the regular whites load. I don't pre-soak linens and towels.
My skin doesn't itch anymore and because I use pretty much the same products for cleaning, my hands are not cracked and dry. If I had a clothes line I would hang everything on the line to dry all year round but I haven't convinced my landlady to let me have a clothesline yet. (11/17/2008)
There used to be a poem:
Queen Anne has washed her lace,
She chose a sunny day;
and hung them in a grassy place,
to whiten if they may.
Some people say this refers to the plant or flowers Queen Anne's lace, but I was raised as the poem was a way to remember how to wash and care for delicate crochet, tatting, etc. Lots of clothes were spread on the grass or hung on a fence line before bleach came along. (03/07/2009)
My sister claims to be the Queen of Stains and she's used lemon juice on the clothing that has just been washed and is still wet. I don't know if she used it full strength, you'd have to experiment. Then she laid the garment out in the sun. She has had great results. Good luck! (03/07/2009)
Can someone please explain to me why all of our white clothing articles have labels that say "Non Chlorine Bleach Only"? Wasn't bleach invented, or at least marketed, to get our whites clean?
My son is 12 years old and in his 8th year of baseball (he plays football, too) and both of the clubs he plays for always provide them with white uniform pants. Now if anybody out there has kids that play sports, the red dirt from the baseball fields and grass stains from the football field will not come out of these pants!
And if that weren't enough, I bought a white top, wore it once and when I pulled it out of the washer it had faint blue stains on it! And guess what? No bleach allowed! I am at my wits end and the season hasn't even started yet! Can someone help me keep my sanity?
Helen from Concord, North Carolina
They say "No Chlorine Bleach" for 2 reasons: One reason is if the fabric is a colored fabric that will fade or run. The other reason is for more delicate fabric, because every time we bleach fabric it breaks it down a bit.
Here's what "The Queen of Clean" says about how to remove grass stains:
1) Grass stain on a football uniform -- Apply undiluted rubbing alcohol to a cotton ball and pat onto the stain. Let it set for a few minutes, then blot. If the stain is stubborn and doesn't come out right away pour a little white vinegar on the stain or put the uniform into a pan with a vinegar rinse. Let it set for approximately an hour, then launder as usual.
2) Grass stain on a baseball uniform -- Moisten the stain with warm water. Sprinkle powered all-fabric bleach over stain and work in using your thumbs. Let it soak for about 30 minutes, then launder as usual.
3) Grass stains on soccer cleats and shoes -- Pour molasses on the stain and let it soak overnight. The sulfur in the molasses will eat away the grass. Rinse thoroughly to remove the molasses.
4) Grass stains on jeans -- Saturate the stained area with alcohol and let soak at least 30 minutes before laundering. White non gel toothpaste can also be use to remove grass stains from jeans.
5) Spot Removal Tip: Avoid using ammonia, degreasers or alkaline detergents on grass stains. They could permanently set the stain.
Oxy Clean! I love the stuff. Soak the clothes in itthe night before in hot water and then wash the next day. It gets smells out as well. (03/14/2007)
You can buy non chlorine bleach from Proctor and Gamble. It is called Biz.
Clorox also makes a product called Clorox-2.
When I was in the Navy we used to wash clothes in salt water and hang them in the sun. They would get bleached out.
You may also want to do your wash by not mixing colors together. Good luck. (03/14/2007)
There is a great whitener called Zout made here in California that was originally made to take grass stains out of baseball uniforms! I first found out about it when I asked a woman I worked with how she kept her white jeans so spotless. (03/14/2007)
Depending on the size of load, I use 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar in white laundry. (03/15/2007)
We use about 1/3 cup white vinegar in place of fabric softener. (Fill a liquid detergent lid to the line below the top.) On my old machine, I filled the dispenser the rest of the way with water.
My new machine works with just the vinegar. Vinegar removes the extra detergent from the clothes. leaving them very soft. It whitens whites and revives colors.
There may be a faint vinegar odor when you first open the machine but never a vinegar smell in the clothes. Also, they dry just as soft on the line as in the dryer. (10/15/2007)
I've heard great things about Biz bleach and Oxyclean, though I use neither. I have had great luck recently substituting hydrogen peroxide (H202), the brown bottle at 3 percent dilution (already diluted for consumer use). I use a cup instead of a cup of bleach and our whites have never been whiter. Bleach just is so harmful to the environment, to our lungs, skin and bodies!
Try the H202, big 32 oz bottles at Wal Mart, etc. for less than $1. We do a load of whites about every three days and the single bottle will last a week. Hope it works for you! (04/04/2008)
I have had great results with cleaning with LA's TOTALLY AWESOME. Yes, that's actually the name of the product. Though I have not used it in the laundry yet, testimonials and proof in more intense areas of cleaning have proven itself. I am a chef and I'm actually using baking soda and hydrogen peroxide with a little detergent to wash my chef coats tonight. But I'm going out tomorrow to pick up a few bottles of Awesome. sold at dollar stores. (06/02/2008)
I, too, had an old bottle of LA's Totally Awesome Stain Removal in my cupboard and was desperately trying to get what looked like rust stains on a white part of my teen son's swim shorts.
I tried multiple products, including Oxy, bleach, etc. without any luck. Mind you this was a set stain that had already gone through the dryer.
I poured a bit of the LA product on it, rubbed it in and immediately the stain was visibly going away. After washing it the stain entirely came out.
I then went after other shirts that I could not remove set in stains from and also got all of those out - these included mustard and pen stains.
I am a new fan and will continue to use this product. It is at the Dollar General and I believe someone also said at the Dollar Tree. Totally amazing! (08/30/2008)
A wonderful tip for getting clothes white if your out of bleach. Add white vinegar to the wash.