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Out of Bleach? These Pantry Staples Can Also Brighten Your Whites

A person places white laundry into a washing machine.
Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com

When it comes to brightening your whites in the laundry, you probably immediately think of bleach. After all, it is the most common method. However, did you know there are some all-natural pantry items that also have whitening power?

From that famous cure-all, vinegar, to the equally handy baking soda, there’s a good chance you’ve got some whitening power in your cupboard. Whether you’re out of bleach, or just want to stick to natural products, you’ve got options.

Distilled Vinegar

From cleaning appliances to germinating garden seeds, vinegar is useful for such a wide variety of household tasks, it should come as no surprise that it can also whiten laundry.

Just add a cup for every gallon of hot water, submerge your whites, and then allow them to soak overnight. The next day, just wash them as you usually would.

To keep your whites looking fresh, you can also add a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle during your usual wash process. It will cut through any leftover detergent residue to keep whites looking more vibrant.


If you don’t have any vinegar, you can always grab some leftover citrus. Lemons are home to high levels of citric acid, which can bleach fabrics, therefore, it also works as a natural alternative to bleach. Keep in mind, however, that citrus works best on cotton, linen, and polyester.

Just mix half a cup of lemon juice with one gallon of hot water. Let it soak for a minimum of an hour or overnight for fabrics that need extra whitening. Afterward, just launder as usual.

Baking Soda

A jar of baking soda next to a bottle of laundry detergent and a basket full of dirty laundry.

You might not have any bleach, but you probably have some baking soda, and you can use it to whiten your laundry. Just add one cup of baking soda to one gallon of boiling water.

If you’ve got a particularly large load, you can adjust the amount of water and baking soda accordingly (one cup of baking soda for every gallon of water).

Remove the water from the heat and add your clothes (but stick to cotton). Let them soak for an hour or overnight. The baking soda will dissolve any leftover dirt and grime leading to brighter whites.

Now, you’ll still be able to brighten your whites, even when you’re out of bleach!

[Via Real Simple]

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is the Assignments Editor at LifeSavvy. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer with a focus on beauty and lifestyle content. Her work has appeared in Bustle, Allure, and Hello Giggles. Read Full Bio »
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