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Whitening without Bleach — Natural Alternatives…

I learned how to whiten Vintage linens a few years ago by washing them in lemon water and drying in the sunshine.. However this sounds like a gentler way to whiten things..  You do get great drying and whitening assistance when you put clothes and linens out in the sunshine. Sometimes even you can dry them flat on the grass, certainly not in the temperatures(-5 to 15) we are experiencing today. I’m going to try to bleach something out on the snow.. I’ll blog later with my findings..  ET


bleach alternativeI recently got an email from La June which included thewords“I need HELP Jillee!” Well shoot, I can’t possibly ignore that! 😉   Actually what she needed help with is something I’m sure a lot of you probably deal with who live in a rural area. Not being able to use bleach in your laundry because you’re on a septic system.

Specifically, La June was talking about the Miracle Whitening Solution post, which does indeed include bleach. While VERY effective…I know not everyone uses it. SO, I went in search of an alternative for La June (and the rest of you!) that I thought was a good substitute.

I looked at LOTS and LOTS of “bleach alternatives” and to be honest wasn’t extremely impressed with any of them. First of all, MOST of the homemade bleach alternative solutions I came across combined Hydrogen Peroxide and Vinegar which shouldn’t be mixed together in the same container.


Mixing the two results in Peracetic Acid, which is a strong oxidizing agent used for high level disinfection. It’s popular in the food industry because it breaks down into water, oxygen and acetic acid (vinegar), making it very environmentally friendly. But studies have found it is very irritating to the skin, eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. So probably NOT a good idea to use it on your laundry.

Then I came across this post from Grit.com and it made perfect sense!  So I decided to give it a try.

Here’s the recipe:

12 cups water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup hydrogen peroxide

Mix. Add 2 cups per wash load or put in spray bottle and use as a household cleaner.


bleach alternative


I decided to test it on a pair of white pillow shams I have on my bed that were beginning to look a bit on the dingy/dirty side. I don’t wash them often because we don’t actually SLEEP on them…but you know how it is…they still get dirty from being handled and thrown on the floor and lounged on when someone is watching TV on the bed, etc. I figured they would be a good test.Unfortunately I totally spaced taking a BEFORE picture of them, so you’re just going to have to use your imagination. But they looked a lot like this mattress cover did that I featured in the Miracle Whitening Solution post I did. Maybe not QUITE as bad. But close.


I added 2 cups of the solution to the load of whites I washed the pillow shams with (along with my regular homemade detergent), let it agitate, and then let it soak for a little over an hour.

Here are the pillowcases on my bed. 🙂 Not bad huh?



bleach alternative


I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the effectiveness of this combination.

I’ve also used it a couple of times now just as a general all-purpose cleaner around the kitchen and have liked the results there as well. I’ve been using straight hydrogen peroxide for awhile now as a kitchen/bathroom/etc. cleaner, but the addition of the acidic lemon gives it a nice cleaning boost and, of course, a fresh citrus scent!


bleach alternative


If you are on a septic system or just want to avoid using chlorine bleach in your laundry…give this a try!  I think you’ll be happy with the results.

And one more thing…this post wouldn’t be complete without adding a plug for good old-fashioned100% naturalSUNSHINE. The ultraviolet radiation of sunlight is a natural disinfectant. You can effectively brighten and disinfect your stained laundry by spraying it withlemon juice and then hanging it in the sun. I realize this isn’t going to be extremely PRACTICAL at times….but I had to give it a shout-out anyway. 🙂





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