How to Keep Whites Looking White

laundry tips, natural cleaning | 3 comments

Keeping my white laundry looking white and bright has often been a source of frustration for me. There’s nothing more annoying that a gorgeous white top, or even something as simple as clean, white undergarments, that come out of the dryer looking a faded gray.

I tend to shy away from products like bleach because they’re harsh chemicals and my kids have sensitive skin. Aside from that, I’ve found in my experience with bleach that it actually causes many whites to yellow over time and seems to break down the fabric, as it’s not exactly a gentle chemical.

all natural bleach alternatives

photo credit: ilselieve

I’ve tried a few natural bleach alternative ideas over the past few years and have had some nice success with them. It makes me feel better about what’s going onto my kids clothes as well as what’s going down the drain.

Here are a few hints and natural bleach alternative ideas for keeping your whites looking bright and, well, white without resorting to a bottle of bleach.

Pre-Treat Your Stains

I always start by treating any stains. With two little kids there’s often smears of all sorts of things on their clothes…or mine.

Remove the clothing as immediately as you can. Rinse the stain and/or soak. Treat with your favorite stain remove, such as Stain Stick, Shout, or even hydrogen peroxide.

Add Baking Soda To Your Wash

Add 1 cup of baking soda per load of laundry directly in with the clothes – not in the detergent dispenser on a front loader. Like Borax (see below), Baking Soda helps remove odors, is a color-safe bleach alternative and gets your laundry detergent working better. Related: The Many Uses of Baking Soda

Tip: Purchase Baking Soda in 13 lb. bags at Costco.

Add Borax To Your Wash

Add a 1/2 cup Borax to your laundry directly in with the clothes – not in the detergent dispenser on a front loader. Borax helps remove stains, is a color-safe bleach alternative, deodorizes and softens hard water. Detergent will work more effectively in soft water.

You can also pre-treat with Borax by soaking stained garments in a mixture of 1 tablespoon borax to one gallon of water.

Add Vinegar To Your Rinse Cycle

Add a 1/2 of a cup of plain, white vinegar to your rinse cycle. Not only does it help brighten white fabrics, it reduces static and helps remove any soap residues. Vinegar also helps with brighter colors and eliminates bleeding from fabric dyes that may stain your clothes.

Use Cold Water Cycles

Always use cold water for your wash and rinse cycles as well as soaking during pre-treating. Heat just bakes the stain into the clothes. Examine stained items as they come out of the wash before placing them in the dryer. If the stain is still there, then let the item hang dry and treat it again in a second wash. Don’t put stained clothing in the dryer until the stain is gone.

What’s your favorite way to keep stains off your white laundry so it’s beautiful and bright? Do you use a natural bleach alternative?

Katie Goodman

About the Author:

Katie’s lifelong interest in cooking good food has shown her that part of the goodness in life is enjoying delicious food with friends and family. She is: Mom. Writer. Photographer. Recipe Developer. Website Founder. Lover of all things good in life. A mix of great recipes, family memories, and yummy photography is what Katie serves up each week at GoodLife Eats™. Katie and her family reside in Colorado.

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  • 1
    Megan - June 14, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

    I have bedding that is white with purple. No matter how often I ask, my boyfriend, he never washes his face before bed. I noticed today how grimey and gray his pillow sham is now. How can I remove that grime, without fading the purple of my bedding?


    • Katie Goodman

      Katie replied: — June 27th, 2012 @ 10:46 AM

      I would wash the bedding adding baking soda, borax, or vinegar to the wash and pre-treating with a color safe stain remover. You can also try soaking it in water with vinegar prior to the wash.

  • 2
    Erin - December 19, 2012 @ 8:58 pm

    Just a quick question – do you add both the baking soda and borax to the clothes? I’m trying to find more natural alternatives. I’m curious about what you use to pre-treat the stains, I’ve struggled to find a more natural one to use. Thanks! Erin


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