3 Natural Alternatives to Bleach
Are you looking for a natural way to whiten the laundry in your home, without all of the added chemicals? Check out these three natural bleach alternatives that you can start trying today!
So you're trying to 'clean' up your laundry routine, maybe use less chemical and more mother nature? Maybe you've played around with some homemade laundry detergents, spot sprays, and wool dryer balls. Yet, you still haven't tackled the bleach debacle.
Or, maybe you haven't done any of these and you are just looking for a good direction to head in with regards to switching to all-natural laundry ingredients.
If you are looking to go more green and natural with your laundry essentials, ditching the bleach is a great way to start!
What's up with bleach?
When Caleb and I were first married we lived in an apartment complex with the laundry facilities at the end of the block. One day, after doing a load of laundry I was walking back to our apartment with my load of supplies: fresh laundry in a basket, laundry detergent, and a bottle of bleach.
Along the walk, the skin on my stomach started to get really itchy and felt as though it was burning. By the time I got home I realized that the cap on the bleach bottle was not screwed on all the way and it had been leaking all over my black shirt. Well, the shirt was bright orange where the bleach had leaked and was literally dissolving! It had a hole in it within minutes and my skin was bright red and irritated for a few days.
Before this, I never really thought much about whether or not bleach could be that harmful. I knew it was a serious chemical, but beyond that i had never considered what kind of damage it could do. Its not a mystery that of all of the household cleaners, bleach is usually considered to be one of the most toxic and dangerous. It can be a skin and respiratory irritant (note: the above story!), can be dangerous when ingested, and toxic when combined with certain other cleaners.
Using bleach in the laundry room, can sometimes seem like one of the quickest and most effective ways to brighten up your whites; but the exposure to the chemicals in bleach is not something that should be taken lightly. If you can use a more natural and better for you and your family cleaner, then why not?
I completely understand the hesitation of switching to a more natural alternative, with regards to whether or not it will be effective enough to really get your whites, white. I love clean and fresh, white linens. Even if I know that I have washed a certain fabric or linen, I won't feel as though its completely clean if it doesn't have that crisp, white look to it. We all know bleach can do the trick, but can these other, more natural alternatives as well? The answer is YES!
Don't get discouraged! You can have bright, white linens and fabrics, using one of these all-natural bleach alternatives. You may need to use each of the three at one point or another, as they'll all be more or less effective on different fabrics and materials. Maybe you will need to use all three cohesively. Do some experimenting and figure out which method will provide you with the results you are looking for.
All natural bleach alternatives:
1. Distilled White Vinegar
If you don't mind the initial smell, white vinegar can be a wonderful addition to your cleaning repertoire. The acetic acid in vinegar is what works to whiten and brighten your fabrics. Vinegar will also do a great job of softening and deodorizing your clothes.
To use vinegar to help whiten your laundry, simply soak your whites in a 1:6 vinegar to water solution. You can soak them in your sink, a bucket, or even your washing machine drum if you have a top loader. If you are able to soak your whites in the vinegar overnight, that would be best. Run them through a normal cycle when they are through soaking.
2. Hydrogen Peroxide
Another, natural bleach alternative is hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is considered a bio-degradable oxygen-based bleach. When it breaks down it breaks down into water and oxygen, which is easier on the environment. Use hydrogen peroxide just like you would bleach by adding it to the bleach dispenser in your washer or as the washer fills up with water.
If you want to use the hydrogen peroxide as a spot treatment, be sure to store it in a dark colored spray bottle, because its light sensitive. Also, try to use it within the first six months of opening when its most fresh and has the highest cleaning qualities.
3. The Sun!
Although it will take quite a bit longer, using the sun to bleach your laundry and clothes can be effective, the least costly, and the most green. You won't be using your dryer so you will save on energy, and it doesn't cost a dime. You may be thinking that you don't have the time to wait for your clothing to sundry and bleach, but with a little bit of planning it won't matter. Keep in mind, just as much as the sun can lighten and bleach your whites, it will also do the same for your colored fabric.
In addition, leaving your laundry to dry out in the sun is one of the best, all natural ways to kill bacteria. I think sun bleaching is easiest and most effective on sheets, bedding, blankets, etc. These are the easiest to hang up on a clothesline, and leave out for hours at a time. I usually have a hard time getting some of our bedding to dry completely in the dryer so I tend to let it air dry for part of the time anyways.
There are several other ingredients that can be used alone as a spot treatment or alongside the three bleach alternatives above.
- lemon juice
- lemon essential oil
- washing soda
- salt & water
***Note: some cleaning supplies, even natural ones can create toxic gases or be irritable on skin when they are combined, be sure to research before combining any of the additions together or with the bleach alternatives.
If you are looking for some more ways to 'clean' up your laundry routine, check out this video by Brittany over at Naturally Brittany on Youtube. So many great ideas!