DIY (do-it-yourself) Projects

Published on July 31st, 2019 | by Sarah Dephillips


How to Whiten Whites Without Chlorine Bleach

Chlorine bleach has long been used for disinfecting surfaces and for whitening things. The environmental and health hazards of chlorine bleach are fairly well known. Additionally, bleach is hard on your clothing or other textiles, causing the fibers to break down more quickly! We recently published an article about how to disinfect surfaces without using chlorine bleach. But what about whitening? That’s just what one of our readers wanted to know through our ask GLI page. So here it is – how to whiten whites without chlorine bleach!

Before whitening – yuck!

Four household ingredients

Our reader specifically asked about cleaning/whitening an area rug. I’ve personally used this method on a white hammock and, as you’ll see in the tutorial, a white pillow cover. This recipe is safe, easy, inexpensive, and should work on any of your washable whites!  Here’s what you need:

1 cup hydrogen peroxide (the 3% that comes in the brown bottle at the store)

½ cup baking soda

¼ cup lemon juice

4-8 cups water

A large bowl or container

The sun


In a large bowl or container (maybe a large tub for an area rug), combine baking soda, peroxide, and lemon juice. Be careful, it’s going to fizz a lot! Add the water and mix well. I would suggest starting with the full 8 cups of water and then making a more concentrated solution if it doesn’t have the whitening power you need. 

Immerse your item(s) in the solution. If possible, set it out in the sun to soak. Sunshine helps increase the whitening power of lemon juice! Soak for several hours, or all day if possible. 

Remove from solution and rinse thoroughly with water. If the item is something you’re going to iron, put it through a cycle in the washing machine. High heat will turn any residual lemon juice a brownish color, undoing the whitening effect. You don’t want that. If you can, hang your item(s) to dry in the sunlight.

Voila! Whiten whites without chlorine bleach!

Here’s a side by side comparison – before and after whitening!

Finished product, no more yuck!

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