Tried and tested ways you can whiten your whites (without bleach)

Dec 13, 2019
Whiten your whites without using bleach. Source: Getty Images

If there’s one colour in my laundry load I struggle to keep looking fresh and bright, it’s my whites. Would you agree? It’s disappointing when that crisp white item discolours so that it no longer looks fresh and is simply a shade of white, like beige or mother of pearl.

But as the world has become more conscious of the dangers associated with chemical bleaches, more and more I’m turning to gentler, more natural methods. I put four tried and tested tactics to the test, to prove that some alternatives to bleach can get your whites looking as white as the day they were purchased.

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy

Have you heard of a citrus soak? Neither had I until I discovered this recommended method of whitening by the legendary Martha Stewart. Stewart recommends boiling your whites with lemons and lemon juice, getting the water to bubbling, and allowing them to soak for about an hour. This method was used on smaller white items (I don’t have a pot large enough to fit my white sheets into) such as socks.

  • Fill the pot with water and a few slices of fresh lemon
  • Bring to the boil on the stove
  • Turn off the heat and add your items
  • Let soak for up to an hour
  • Finally, put them into the washing as normal

Steward also recommends drying in direct sunlight for an improved result.

Pass the white vinegar please

This method is a bit of a double whammy because not only did the whites get whiter, but the vinegar acted as a natural fabric softener. All I did for this one was add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to my white wash during the last rinse cycle.

Forget stains with baking soda

How handy is baking soda?! If your whites are starting to look a little dirty, mix a solution of about 4 litres of water and 1 cup of baking soda to whiten your whites without bleach. Allow the clothes to soak and marvel at how clean they are when done (I did).

Use the dishwasher

More specifically, if you have any dishwasher tablets or powder on-hand give this one a go. I’m not sure I would have thought of dishwasher soap as a secret ninja for my whites, but it works reasonably well. You’ll need to blend about 1/4 cup of dishwasher powder with your regular laundry powder and then run your wash as normal.

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