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How to Keep Whites Looking White

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.

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.

Tips to Keep Naturally Whiten Laundry

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 to Keep Whites White

I always start by treating any stains. With multiple kids (and 2 of them boys) there’s often smears of all sorts of things on their clothes…or mine.

How to Pre-Treat Stains

  • Remove the clothing as immediately as you can.
  • Rinse the stain and/or soak.
  • Treat with your favorite stain remover, such as: Stain Stick, Shout, or even hydrogen peroxide (great for blood stains!). I LOVE to use Branch Basics All Purpose Spray as a stain pre-treat solution.
  • Let the pre-treat solution soak before washing the item.
  • Always spot test in an inconspicuous area first to make sure the garment is colorfast.

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.


Branch Basics Pure Oxygen Boost whitens and brightens fabrics and remove stains and odors, yet keeps you and your family safe from fragrances, binding agents, solvents, etc.

No bleach. No ammonia. No dyes. No fragrances. Safe for septic tank.

The package comes with a plastic, 1 oz (2 Tablespoons) scoop.

  • No bleach.
  • No ammonia.
  • No dyes.
  • No fragrances.
  • Safe for septic tanks

I love to add a scoop of this to my laundry loads, especially to our whites and extra stinky loads (think gym clothes and soccer uniforms!)

2 pounds of Oxygen Boost will treat approximately 32 medium sized loads of laundry.


Branch Basics has kindly provided a coupon code for all Good Life Eats readers who want to try out their awesome non-toxic cleaning supplies! Thank you, Branch Basics!


Use the Branch Basics Coupon Code GLE15 for 15% OFF a STARTER KIT!

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?

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