Avoid Using Bleach for White Laundry and Try These DIY Cleaning Tricks Instead

Avoid bleach for white laundry

White laundryAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

It’s time to banish bleach from your laundry room. Not only can chlorine bleach irritate your skin, eyes and lungs, during production it releases carcinogenic dioxins. It is also poisonous to insects and fish.

Here are four ways to whiten your whites with less harmful products you likely already have around the house.

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Grab some lemons when doing your next load of laundry. Lemon juice brightens and freshens fabrics naturally. Just add up to 1/2 cup of lemon juice per load with your laundry detergent.

Lemon can also be used to fight stains as a pre-soak. Just boil a large pot of water with a sliced lemon. Take it off the heat and then add clothing and let it soak up to an hour before washing.

Here are 10 unexpected ways to use lemon around the house.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Try using hydrogen peroxide as a substitute for bleach on white fabrics (it is not safe for colored fabric). Hydrogen peroxide, which can be found at drug and grocery stores, is a combination of hydrogen and oxygen and is available in several strengths. Pick up a bottle of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide and add up to 1/2 cup with your laundry detergent and run a normal cycle.

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Baking Soda

You likely use baking soda in other ways around the home, and it can help in the laundry room as well. Baking soda naturally freshens, softens and whitens laundry. Try adding up to 1/2 cup per load with your regular laundry detergent.

You can also use baking soda to spot-treat stains. Just mix some baking soda with a little water and rub it into the stain before washing.

Try these 15 clever uses for baking soda.


For tough rust stains, pre-treat the stain with some salt mixed with lemon juice. Squeeze lemon juice directly on the stain and then sprinkle some salt on it and let it sit overnight. Then rinse with cool water and wash the item on your washing machine’s cold cycle.

Plus, if you want to use a store-bought item, laundry bluing may help make your whites fresher than ever.

These 13 tips will help with hard-to-wash items.

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Rachel Brougham
Rachel Brougham lived through a major home renovation in 2019, knows the ups and downs of home improvement, and loves sharing tips with readers. A veteran journalist of both print and television, she’s won several awards for her writing and has covered everything from the environment and education to health care, politics and food. She’s written for several publications beyond newspapers including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent, and she currently writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Her memoir, Widowland, about the sudden loss of her husband, was published in 2022. She specializes in everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden, product reviews and pet care. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her tending to her garden (both vegetables and native plants), playing with her dog, watching sports with her family or getting some exercise. A native of Michigan, she currently lives in Minneapolis. An avid user of Instagram, you can follow her @RachBrougham.