Five ways to keep your whites, looking white without using bleach

A crisp white work shirt or a perfectly cut white t-shirt are everybody's wardrobe classics. But have you taken a look at your white clothes lately? If they're looking a little grey or off-white, it may be time to bring back that crisp white looking garment.

We all think that the more detergent we use, the cleaner our clothes will be, but this isn't the case, in fact too much detergent and fabric softener coats the fabric, leaving a residue that acts like a magnet when it comes to collecting dirt on our clothes.  But it isn't just about the detergents we use, there's also the ironing of our whites, did you know that if the wrong temperature is being used on your iron, then you are actually scorching your clothes, so by keeping the temperature low and use steam or water to relax those lovely crinkles are the best way of preserving your whites and your colour's.  Then there's the obvious food and drink stains that haven't been treated before they went in the wash, air pollution, even our body oils and then the obvious colour transfer from other coloured clothing.

I don't know about you, but I'm hopeless at separating my colour's from my whites ready for that weekly washing cycle, in fact I'm more of a throw everything in and hope that the colour's don't run!! Which is actually quite surprising since I was brought up with a mum who did at least two loads of washing on a Sunday - whites and coloured!  Even if you’re the greatest washer in the world, there is always that; just by chance one bit of coloured clothing snuck into your white wash, the inevitable happens…. Pulling your clothes out of the wash to find that they're nowhere near as white as they were when you first put them in can be pretty frustrating. Don't fret, when it's time to rejuvenate those whites there are ways of making them look white again without using bleach.   Most of these bleach alternatives work best on natural fibres, like cotton or linen, and should only be used on white clothing without prints or contrasting trim to avoid fading and the best bit is that they are probably supplies you already have in your homes, so there's no need to go out and buy those expensive chemical-based products or to make the choice to throw the garment away.

So, here's my top 5 tips on keeping your whites, white, without the use of bleach…

#1     Aspirin

Children's clothing brand | Little Pegs | Illustration of a bottle of water, box of aspirin and a kettle

Isn't just for those headaches, it can also brighten fabric, it will take more than the classic two tablets, but it will take that dullness away from your whites.  So, to do this you will need at least 10 aspirin to one gallon of hot water.  This method is most effective on 100% fabrics, so cotton, silk etc.…  

  1. Bring the water to the boil and add the aspirin tablets and stir until dissolved
  2. Remove from the heat and add the cotton fabric, don’t over crowd the pot
  3. Allow the fabric to soak until the water is completely cold
  4. Then wash clothing as normal.

#2     Baking Soda

Children's clothing brand | Little Pegs | Illustration of a bottle of water, box of baking soda and a kettle

It's like making a cake, but instead of making that cake rise, the sodium bicarbonate will help cut through the soil on the cotton clothing that is basically leaving your whites looking that little bit dull.

  1. Stir one cup of baking soda to one gallon of hot water
  2. Add the white clothing
  3. Soak then for at least an hour, but if you have the time better to do it over night.
  4. Then rinse and wash as normal.

#3     Lemons

Children's clothing brand | Little Pegs | Illustration of a bottle of water, lemon and a kettle

Ever thought about soaking in lemon?  The citric acid in lemons is like bleach, but not as harmful or chemical based, only natural.

It works well on cotton, linen and polyester mixes.  The bonus of this one is your clothes will smell like lemons for a little while... That’s if you like the smell of lemons.

  1. Mix half a cup of lemon juice (about four lemons) into a gallon of hot water
  2. Add the whites into the mix
  3. Allow to soak for at least an hour, but overnight would be better.
  4. Then wash as normal

#4     Distilled white vinegar

Children's clothing brand | Little Pegs | Illustration of a bottle of water, bottle of distilled white vinegar and a kettle

What about some distilled white vinegar?  This one can be done both as a soak, but if you want to continue the vinegar can just be put in the wash cycle as well.

  1. One cup of distilled white vinegar to one gallon of
  2. hot water
  3. Give it a good stir and add the whites
  4. Allow to soak overnight
  5. Then rinse through and put in the wash as normal 

#5     Sunshine

Children's clothing brand | Little Pegs | Illustration of a clothes line with a full sun beaming down on the white clothes drying

Yes, it's coming to that time of year that the sun is rarely shining, but if you want to do this one in the summer - it's the best organic way of keeping your whites white.  The sun's ultraviolet rays (although) damaging for our skin and fade coloured clothing) but whites those rays are perfect and they also kill any germs and help the fabric to stay fresh and white.

Just remember that there are a huge amount of products on the market that you can buy that claim to help keep your whites looking white, but why buy those expensive products when you have all the supplies in your home?  The added bonus is that these products won't damage your clothes, irritate you and your little one's skin or harm our environment.

I'll be writing a blog post soon about home remedies to remove stubborn stains, because we all know that our little one's don’t' quite always know where their mouths are when eating and drinking!!

So, why not sign up to my weekly newsletter and become part of the Little Pegs community and receive regular tips and tricks on making your life a little greener, you'll also get 10% off your first order.

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