The Easy Way to Whiten Your Laundry Without Bleach

Put away the bleach and instead reach for something that could be in your fridge.

White laundryAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Everybody loves their laundry to be sparkling white and using bleach is a common way to achieve this. But, bleach is not the only or the best option. Bleach can be harmful to your health and the environment.

Why is bleach a bad option?

It can be dangerous. Curious kids will sometimes spill or even drink bleach. If bleach is mixed with other substances (such as vinegar), it produces toxic fumes. Passive exposure to bleach is also a problem. A 2015 study by European researchers found that having bleach in the home resulted in a higher rate of childhood illnesses like tonsillitis, flu, and breathing conditions. And, bleach lingers in the environment once it’s washed away. These are the 23 other subtle ways your house might be making you sick.

But, it is possible to whiten without bleach and the miracle cleaning ingredient is … lemon juice! Lemon juice is a natural, environmentally friendly whitener. Lemon juice can be used to clean a whole heap of household items without the use of harsh chemicals. In fact, lemon juice is also especially great for cleaning leather—here’s how to use the juice to remove stains from leather furniture.

How does lemon-juice whitening work?

Lemon juice contains high levels of citric acid. The enzymes in the acid react with stains on your laundry to loosen and remove them naturally, leaving fabrics beautifully white. (This whitening effect also works on other things, like your skin, hair, and teeth, but it should be used with great care to avoid damage.)

Lemon-juice whitening is best reserved for white laundry as colored items could fade more quickly if exposed to lemon juice. Just make sure you’re not using lemon juice to whiten these.

How to whiten clothes when hand-washing

This video tutorial by eHowHome shows you exactly how to hand-wash your laundry with lemon juice. Combine two cups of lemon juice with one cup of salt. Soak the clothes in the solution, rinse them out well, and leave them to dry in the sun. The sunlight also acts as a natural whitener.

How to whiten clothes in a washing machine

Using lemon juice to whiten without bleach is even simpler in a washing machine. Just add a cup of lemon juice along with your detergent and wash as usual. Again, drying the clothes in the sunshine will enhance the whitening effect.

So by using lemon juice instead of bleach in your laundry, you can relax in the knowledge that your clothes will be beautifully white without damaging your health or the environment. You can make other cloth items white and bright again, too—this is how to whiten yellow-stained pillows.

The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman

Elizabeth Manneh
Elizabeth Manneh is an experienced freelance writer, specializing in health and wellness, education and learning, family life, parenting and women's issues. She's been published on Huffington Post and was a regular contributor to Love Live Health and Daily Home Remedy. Elizabeth is a retired primary school principal and education consultant, with a continuing passion for education and learning.