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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.
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 christine 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)
By Dena Roberts
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)
By Louise B.
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"?
A wonderful tip for getting clothes white if your out of bleach. Add white vinegar to the wash.