Thursday, October 3, 2013

7 Ways to Get Whites White without Bleach

Bleach sucks, but so do dingy clothes. Here are a few eco-friendly ways to keep white clothes white without chlorine bleach.

(original image via)

Properly Sort
The main reason whites get dingy is the dye from other colored fabrics get on them. If keeping whites white is important to you, do not wash whites and colors together, ever. Also, do not wash heavily soiled white items with not-so-dirty whites.

Hot Water
Martha Stewart recommends washing whites in the hottest water the fabric will tolerate. This isn't especially green, but it works.

Hang your white laundry out to dry in direct sunlight, making sure every item gets direct sun. As a bonus, it will also kill any germs. Stephanie at Keeper of the Home uses sunlight to keep even cloth diapers white. Read her post to see all her wonderful tips on sun bleaching laundry.

Lemon Juice
Soak dingy whites in a basin filled with very hot water and a generous amount of lemon juice overnight. Remove from the basin and wash as usual the next day. Another option is to add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of lemon juice to washer during the rinse cycle. (Tip via SmartKlean.)

Oxygen Bleach
Oxygen bleach does not contain chlorine so it's safe for you and the environment. I just add some to my washing machine as it fills. If something is really grungy or I just want it really white, like my shower curtain, I pre-soak it in oxygen bleach overnight. I mostly use Whole Foods Market store brand powdered oxygen bleach in my laundry, but Seventh Generation bleach is an example of liquid oxygen bleach and it works fine too.

Borax is a laundry detergent booster that can soften hard water. Just add 1/2 cup of borax to every load along with your detergent. Laundry boosters won't bleach your clothes but they do will help the detergent work better. (I'd be remiss if I didn't note that there are some safety concerns for Borax.)

Washing Soda
Washing soda is another natural laundry detergent booster. Add 1/2 cup of it to every load. You don't need booth borax and washing soda, so just pick one. If you can't find washing soda in your area, you can make your own with baking soda.

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