Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

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.

By jandan

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By OliveOyl 602 Flag

August 4, 2009

Try adding some borax or oxyclean to your detergent. If that's not possible, hang your wash to dry in bright sunlight--natural bleach.

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By Janet 11 720 Flag

August 6, 2009

You could hang them to dry in the sun.

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August 6, 2009

Try using dishwasher detergent instead of chlorine bleach. Pre soaking in a tub of water with detergent mixed in helps.

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By Judith 14 Flag

August 6, 2009

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!

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By Candy Killion 10 410 Flag

August 6, 2009

Agree with the posters who said to hang your clothes in sunlight; my DH is allergic to bleach, and I've found that there's nothing like the sun to brighten whites( and there's also the perk of saving a few bucks on the electric bill by using the line instead of the dryer!)

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By Dena Roberts 35 491 Flag

August 8, 2009

Once a month, I toss a dishwasher tab in with my whites. Brightens them up nicely.

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By lisa Hegewald 5 47 Flag

August 9, 2009

Double check your dishwasher detergent, most of them contain chlorine bleach.

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By mysara 1 Flag

October 10, 2010

Especially for the red clay stains on white baseball and softball uniforms: Fels Naptha bar soap can be found in the handsoap or laundry aisle (depending on your region). Very inexpensive. Maybe you can purchase online. Get the bar wet and rub or grind it into the stain as a prewash (instead of Spray'n Wash). Add Borax to the wash and it should all come out. Hope this helps!! I remember the agony before I found this solution! These other bleach alternative tips here are very good, too. I have successfully used all of these awesome alternatives: lemon juice, hydro-peroxide, baking soda and sunshine!

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By November Larson M. 1 Flag

July 13, 2013

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!

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Archive: White Clothes Without Bleach

A wonderful tip for getting clothes white if your out of bleach.
Add white vinegar to the wash. I'm telling ya this works! Clean, fresh, and sparkling white.



RE: White Clothes Without Bleach

I did this the last time I did laundry, I'm potty training and wanted to get the urine smell out of his clothes. I think this actually did better than bleach as far as smell and whitening. (02/19/2006)

By Diana

RE: White Clothes Without Bleach

We too have started using vinegar instead of bleach, it doesn't tear down the clothes and gets the smell out wonderfully. (small children here too) (03/10/2006)

By Anna

RE: White Clothes Without Bleach

I have read before in Heloise's Hints vinegar is a great natural whitener. Never have found amounts to use. Would someone please advise how much vinegar to use in a standard large tub?

By Loretta

Archive: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

I am really P.O.'d about something! 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


RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

I do know from experience if you do use bleach on articles of clothing specifically advising not to over time it turns your clothes yellow. My son plays football and his muddy whites were begging for bleach. I should have heeded the warning. I will try the vinegar. Thank you for the tip! (03/13/2007)


RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

I still use bleach on white fabrics that call for non chlorine bleach. It hasn't bothered them in the least and they still look new! Good luck! (03/13/2007)

By smathis123

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

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.


  • If it's all white, I'd just bleach it anyway, you could start by using half as much bleach as recommended.
  • If it's only PARTLY white (with other colors too) use a "Gel Bleach Pen" on just the white part, being careful to not get any bleach on the colored part.
  • Hydrogen PEROXIDE works wonders bleaching any "Organic" stain. (This means it will NOT remove kool-aid, but WILL remove Grape Juice etc.) It very well could also remove grass stains. Peroxide works wonders removing Blood stains that have sat for days!
  • GOOP - (The hand cleaner) works wonders on removing stains, especially "Greasy" stains like gravy & salad dressing.
  • SUNSHINE - yes sunshine!, hang your laundry out in the sun after washing, this is how they "Bleached" laundry in the old days. they hung their clothes out on the clothesline (for the same reason sunshine bleaches out our hair & bleaches out color in fabric & curtains)

Here's what "The Queen of Clean" says about how to remove grass stains (from URL listed below)

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.

Grass Stain Removal:,2041,DIY_14119_3215136,00.html

Stain Removal -1,2046,DIY_16163_34410,00.html

Stain Removal -2,2041,DIY_14119_3304780,00.html (03/13/2007)

By Cyinda

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

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)

By Molissa

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

You can buy non chlorine bleach from Proctor and Gamble. It is called Biz. The Customer Service no. is 1-800-262-1637. Clorox also makes a product called Clorox-2.You also can order non chlorine bleaches from companies on line by going to Google. 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)

By foxrun41

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

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)

By pamphyila

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

We have a no name and a name brand bleach that is made with hydrogen peroxide. Javex makes the nonclorine, peroxide bleach for the name brand

By Susan from Hamilton

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

Depending on the size of load, I use 1/2-1 cup of white vinegar in white laundry. (03/15/2007)

By Ellen

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach



RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

Try All Fabric Bleach (non-chlorine). A friend gave me some and it removed all the yucky baby barf stains. I was looking for an organic or biodegradable alternative to borax. For tough stains, put about a 2 tsp in a bucket of hot water and let sit for a couple days. Won't bleach colors either. My son was eating pomegranates in a light blue polo shirt, yikes! Blue as new and no signs of fruit stains. I've used it in my carpet cleaner, as a grout cleaner and my husband uses it to clean oil stains from the driveway. It's one of those products I can't live without. I got it from, but other than that I think you have to know someone that sells it. Totally worth every cent. (07/14/2007)

By gddyup2

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

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)

By Jenna

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

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!

Melissa (04/04/2008)

By market2u

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

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 only. ie: Dollar Tree etc... (06/02/2008)

By Anthony

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

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)

By LibbyR

Archive: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

Do you have any tips on washing white socks and underwear? The only thing I know of, is not to wash white socks with anything else, because it will yellow the underwear or anything white. 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


RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

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)

By Cyinda

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

When I was in the Navy we would wash our white uniforms in sea water and then dry in the sun. (11/08/2008)

By Harry

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

I used Baking Soda, it works great on all clothes. Good luck. Sheila from Wisconsin. (11/08/2008)

By Pretty Yorkie Tessa

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

I have found that Amaze (soap) which can be purchased at any grocery store to be good. (11/09/2008)

By Bertha

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

Tide Free and Clear or something like that is available. Oxyclean is good for whites - just use 3-4 cups of it - the cup's provided with the container, that is. (11/10/2008)

By Noella

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

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)

By JustPlainJo

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

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)

By louel53

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

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)

By Guest

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

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)

By sassybritches

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

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:

  • Colors: washed on cold with a tiny bit (1 TB) of "free" laundry detergent and 1 c. baking soda. In the rinse I add 1 c. vinegar and dry as usual. The vinegar rinses out the last bit of detergent and also provides static free clothes.

  • Whites: I pre-soak my white t-shirts, underwear and washcloths in a boiling pot of 1 c. salt and 1 c. baking soda. I bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 c. salt and stir until dissolved. I remove the pot from the burner and add 1 c. of baking soda a little at a time. 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.

  • For whites laundry I use about 1 TB "free" detergent and 1 c. baking soda just like with the colors and add the 1 c. vinegar to the rinse. The only difference is I add 1 c. hydrogen peroxide instead of chlorine bleach. I typically wash whites on hot with a cold rinse but they seem to get equally clean when I wash them in cold.

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)

By tlsanders

<img src="/images/feedback_image.lasso?id=19415300" width="126" height="126" alt="RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach">

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

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)

By ksallen

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

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)

By metroplex

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

(Submitted via email)

For years I struggled with grass stains on white baseball uniforms. Learned the cure from a friend. Pour white Karo syrup on the stains and wait about an hour or two to throw in the washer. Stains will all come out, I promise.

Elizabeth R. (03/10/2009)

By Sally_Admin

Archive: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

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


RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

Rit dye has a white dye. Try that. You can get Rit at WalMart and grocery stores. (04/07/2009)

By tennesue

RE: Cleaning Whites Without Bleach

Once a month I toss a dishwasher soap tab in with my whites, they sparkle. (04/08/2009)

By catastrofy

Home and Garden Cleaning LaundryAugust 4, 2009
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