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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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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