Whiten Whites Without Bleach–Say That Three Times Fast


Photographer: nuttakit, www.freedigitalphotos.net

Spring is in the air along with the smell of fresh cut grass, the warmth from the sun and of course baseball season. I have been looking so forward to spring but now that it is here our family has kicked into high gear as we begin the months of living at the baseball fields and the resulting non-stop laundering as we try to keep up with the cleaning of uniforms.

I pray each spring that our kids will be assigned to teams that wear black or gray pants, not wanting to deal with the dreaded grass stains and dirts stains that penetrate white pants so deeply. Unfortunately for our boys, their little league team has been assigned to wear white pants this season. More unfortunate for me, I have the task of keeping their pants white. Why oh why could I not luck out another year and be assigned grey or black pants–they are so much easier to keep clean and stain-free. I guess after 6 years in this league I am due a turn at white pant duty. However, if I must embrace the wearing of the white pants, then I will find a way to keep them looking new.

Bleach may work for a while but I really do not want to be bleaching pants every other night for the next few months. That much bleach cannot be good for the pants or for my lungs.  I need to find a way to keep their pants at their whitest without the constant use of bleach. So with the task in hand, I am once again I am off and running searching for better alternatives.

Photographer: Suat Eman, www.freedigitalphotos.net

My mother always talked about lemons and their cleaning abilities and since I have used lemons to clean other things I thought I would start my search here. Apparently lemons are a natural way to whiten clothing. You can whiten your clothes by letting them soak in hot water and lots of lemon slices for an hour or two. Then you wash them as usual. If you really have dingy whites, you can boil water in a large pot, add lots of lemon slices, turn off the heat and add the clothes. Let them soak overnight to fully benefit from the hot lemon water. By using lemons as an alternative to bleach, you will not only get your clothes white they will smell lemony fresh as well. I do love lemons and this may be the first alternative to bleach that I try.

Over the years I have also used white vinegar to clean different things such as my coffee pot. It may not smell as nice as a lemon but I started searching to see if it could also be used to whiten clothes. I found the results very similar to that of cleaning out your coffee pot. If you pour ½ to 1 cup of white vinegar in with your white clothes along with your detergent, the vinegar will not only whiten your clothes, it will help clean out any residue from other detergents. It also aids in softening your fabrics. Personally I am a little concerned about how my clothes will smell after trying this out but I have read that the odor from the vinegar will be gone once your clothes are dry.

Photographer: graur razvan ionut, www.freedigitalphotos.net

The next alternative to bleach that I found was dishwasher detergent. There is a whitening agent amongst the ingredients in dishwasher detergent which is intended to make your dishes sparkle. However by adding about ¼ cup dishwasher detergent to your white laundry and washing them in warm water with your regular detergent, that same whitening agent will help your whites be much brighter. This alternative may be perfect for the person who does not like the smell of lemons and is fearful of how the vinegar may smell in clothes. This is one alternative I am going to give a try.


The last alternative to bleach that I have found is probably the purest one of all. So if you are looking for a way to whiten your whites without chemicals or anything unnatural, this is the alternative you have been looking for. Prior to washing machines and chemical cleaners, there was a wash bucket of hot water and the drying power of the sun-shine. This alternative does not produce results like our other alternatives to bleach do but sunlight does help brighten whites.

I think for me this baseball season, I will give all of these alternatives a try and begin searching for ways to clean the kids baseball hats. You can only imagine how gross and dirty those get.

In the meantime, please share with me any tricks or suggestions you have for getting your whites whiter.


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