7 Tried-and-True Ways to Whiten Your Clothes—Without Using Bleach

July 31, 2018

7 Tried-and-True Ways to Whiten Your Clothes—Without Using Bleach

The average family does 350 to 400 loads of laundry per year. That's six to seven washes a week, which tallies up to a lot of detergent exposure.

This poses a particular problem when it comes to washing white clothes—conventional laundry wisdom requires bleach, but more and more families are foregoing this pungent chemical over concerns about potential hazards and general irritation.

At Puracy, we consider bleach to be a harsh chemical, so it's on our company's list of banned ingredients. Instead, we prefer to whiten our clothes with gentle and natural methods. We've rounded up six of our tried-and-true tactics; these easy alternatives to bleach will have your whites looking as fresh as the day you bought them:

1. Pre-soak the load with lemons

Fill a basin with hot water and lemon slices, add your whites, and let them soak for one to two hours. Wash as normal in your washing machine.

If your clothes need an extra brightening boost, boil the water before pouring it into the basin. Then add the lemons and laundry, and let sit overnight. 

2. Knock out multiple laundry issues with vinegar  

Talk about a win-win: In addition to whitening clothes, vinegar is a natural fabric softener. It also cuts that "musty towel" smell that forms with mildew.

To whiten laundry using distilled white vinegar, simply pour 1/4 cup of the liquid to an already-running machine during the last rinse cycle.

3. Treat your whites with hydrogen peroxide

This medicine-cabinet staple does more than disinfect mild cuts and wounds; it's also a natural alternative to bleach for your laundry.

When starting a load, pour 1 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide straight to either your machine or the bleach dispenser. Add clothes and water, and proceed to launder as usual.

Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to tackle those pesky underarm stains so common in white shirts. Combine equal parts hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and water (approximately 1/4 cup of each per shirt). Rub the mixture into stains, let sit for 30 minutes, and loosen any residue with a toothbrush. Wash the shirts as usual.

Our customers have also had great luck using Puracy Natural Stain Remover to eliminate underarm and other stains on white shirts.

4. Cut down on your utility bill and freshen up your whites

There's something so heavenly about the smell of crisp, line-dried linens. Drying whites in the sun is beneficial for reasons beyond the olfactory: It also naturally brightens them.

But the sun's UV rays are powerful forces—so just as they might cause you sunburn, they can also discolor your clothing. Reduce the fading effect of line drying by turning your white and dark items inside out before hanging. The longer you leave your goods in the sun, the greater the brightening effect will be; for the best result, limit drying time to a couple of hours. 

Bonus: Line drying is gentle on more than just your clothes—it'll lighten your utility bill, too. According to the Department of Energy, you'll conserve up to 4% of your electricity usage when you switch to hanging your clothes instead of putting them in the tumble dryer.

5. Use a pantry staple to naturally revive your clothes

What's not to love about baking soda? You can use the natural mineral to safely clear your drain, eliminate odors from the fridge, and yes, amplify the whitening effects of your laundry cycle.

To whiten clothes using baking soda, set up your laundry cycle as normal. When the machine is ready, pour 1/2-cup of baking soda straight into the water until it dissolves, and then run the cycle. For a large load of laundry, use a full cup of baking soda.

6. Go straight for the stains

If your whites only need brightening in a specific area, spot treat them for maximum results.

Using our Natural Stain Remover, spray the affected area and agitate with a soft brush or by rubbing the fabric together, then wait at least 15 minutes before laundering. For tough stains, leave the spray on for at least 8 hours (and ideally, overnight—the longer the better), and then launder with the warmest water the fabric care instructions allow. If necessary, opt for "extra rinse" on your machine and repeat the treatment once more.

7. Swap out your detergent for a gentler formula

Continual washing with harsh detergents will wear down even the strongest of materials. Prolong the life of your beloved wardrobe whites and household linens with a gentler formula.

Puracy Natural Laundry Detergent uses plant-based enzymes and natural minerals to clean as effectively as synthetic brands without the harsh residues. Use it in conjunction with any of these natural methods for your whitest whites yet.

It's hard enough to find the perfect white shirt or pair of pants; it's even harder to keep them looking spiffy on a daily basis. But there's no need to sacrifice your beloved wardrobe staples to the harshness of bleach. These natural alternatives are gentle enough to test on even the most delicate of whites—try them out, and let us know what you think!


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