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Whiter Whites Using Bleach Alternative


Last Updated on January 10, 2022

I love white clothes. In fact, I love white linens, towels, napkins, handkerchiefs, and the list goes on. What I don’t love is my whites fading over time and me feeling like an off-the-shelf chlorine bleach is my only alternative. If your white linens are dingy, no worries, here is a great natural bleach alternative when you need a little extra whitening power!

bleach alternative for laundry

To make an all natural bleach alternative for laundry, combine lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, castile soap, and VERY hot water in a bucket. Submerge your stained items and let them soak. Then agitate them, rinse them out under cool running water, and hang to dry in the sun and you will have whiter whites!

It’s really an easy way to make your own bleach and remove a number of harsh chemicals that you will find in store-bought alternatives. I find the ingredients in organic bleaches to be easier on my skin and at times more gentle with my fabrics. Win, win!

bleach alternative for laundry

All natural bleach will still keep your white clothes brighter and looking crisp without the harmful effects and awful smell of the chemical laundry bleach.

It doesn’t matter if you have sweat stains on your favorite white workout clothes, or had an accident with red sangria, making your own DIY bleach is easy and a great all natural option.

bowl with bleach alternative

what you will need to make all natural bleach

  • The Juice of 1 Lemon: Typically, I pick one rolling around the sidewalk from one of the many neighborhood trees, but you can get them package free at your farmers market or any grocery store.
  • 2 Tablespoons of Hydrogen Peroxide: This is one of the few things I still buy in packaging. 
  • 1 Tablespoon of Castile Soap: I really like Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint soap. You can get your bottles refilled at Whole Foods, Berkeley Bowl, or Rainbow.
  • 1 Gallon of VERY hot water
how to bleach clothes

how to bleach clothes

step 1: combine ingredients

Mix together the lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, Castine soap, and VERY hot water into a bucket. I have a two gallon bucket that I like to use. Place your stained items in a bucket.

step 2: soak garments

Allow the clothing to sit for a minimum of 15 minutes. After 15 minutes the water should be cool enough to agitate the clothes.

NOTE: If the water is still too hot, you can let it sit a little longer or use a long wooden spoon to stir items.

step 3: agitate

Agitate them and let them sit for a couple of hours. Ring them out under cool running water and hang them to dry in the sun. 

You’ll be left with whiter whites! 

why does this work? 

Hot water helps brighten whites. Lemon juice and hydrogen peroxide are natural bleaching agents. Combined with the whitening power of the sun – you have a win, win, win combo!

If a stain has been set in for quite some time, this method may not work. But, it certainly doesn’t hurt to give it a try. 

whiter whites with bleach alternative

does hydrogen peroxide bleach clothes?

Yes, bleaching clothes with hydrogen peroxide will make your clothes super white and brighter. It’s a great alternative to chlorine bleach and you don’t have to worry about harsh vapors or odors.

You can use hydrogen peroxide to brighten your colored clothing and linens too. So, keep this recipe handy because you can use it often.

can i use vinegar instead of lemon juice?

Hydrogen peroxide and vinegar are both strong oxidizers and are great options for bleaching clothes. Combining them produces peracetic acid, which is used to disinfect surfaces at a high level. Personally, I do not combine them for laundry because studies have shown that peracetic acid can be very harsh on the skin. This combination works great in the kitchen, though, because it is a great natural cleaner.

do you recommend this method for all fabrics?

I wouldn’t use this (especially hot water) on silk. Just warm water, soap, and hang to dry. I’ve used it on cotton and synthetics, and so far everything has been fine.

how does the sun whiten clothes?

The sun can whiten clothes naturally because of its ultraviolet rays. UV rays also disinfect fabrics, brighten white clothes, and remove stains. However, the sun’s rays can also remove or fade the color from your colored clothes so watch those carefully. 

how do you make an organic bleach alternative?

In order to make an organic bleach, you would need to purchase organic hydrogen peroxide. You’ll also need to double check the labels on the castile soap to ensure that it is labeled organic as well.

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  1. Love it! Just one question: do you recommend this for all fabrics, or rather–are there any fabrics you would discourage people from submerging in hot water? I’m a bit of a mess at laundry and have already ruined a few sweaters for various reasons 😛


    1. Hmmm…. Excellent points. I wouldn’t do this on silk. Just warm water, soap, and hang to dry. I’ve done it on cotton and synthetics and so far everything has been fine.

  2. This is great! You say hydrogen peroxide is one of the few things you still buy in packaging and I’d be interested to know what else that list includes? I have a few items that I can only find in plastic packaging, yet what I use them for (e.g. DIY home/beauty products where the package creates many times the quantity of a ready made store bought version) I feel justifies buying the item, if that makes sense?

  3. Great post, I’m bookmarking to share with friends. This is pretty much exactly what I do, too! Love those whites! …Or sometimes (okay most of the time!) I get lazy and just do a bit of lemon water + sun 🙂

  4. Thanks for this recipe! I already use the peroxide.
    Once I had a striped blue and white tshirt with the white ruined in some places ( the tshirt had faded). I recovered the white putting the tshirt with hot water and laurel for some hours. It really works for this cases 😉

  5. My problem is I cannot find soap and hardly any baking products like Bisquick that have No Palm Oil!

  6. Does this work on sweat stains? I use an all-natural, aluminum-free deodorant in a compostable paper tube…and somehow still have yellow stains. Commercial bleach does not work, and I previously tried Oxi-Clean with mixed success – has anyone tried this natural bleach for that?