Are you looking to green up your laundry room and find a good bleach alternative that really works? If so, you’re in the right place!
In the last post, I gave a few reasons why you might want to make the switch to healthier products. Be sure to check it out because there are some great options for laundry soap (including easy DIY recipes!).
This week we’ll be going over alternatives to chlorine bleach.
There are plenty of products and recipes out there for bleach alternatives but I can tell you from personal experience that not all worked like I had hoped.
If you’re interested in switching the bleach in your laundry room for something non-toxic be sure to read on!
What is chlorine bleach?
Common household bleach contains a mix of chemicals that include: sodium hypochlorite, sodium hydroxide, hydrogen peroxide, and calcium hypochlorite.
Household bleach is not considered corrosive or even toxic, technically speaking, but there are still risks that should be considered.
If bleach is mixed with other substances like ammonia, fragrances, other cleaning products, urine, or even sunlight, negative reactions could occur.
These reactions could include:
- severe lung irritation and breathing difficulties
- fluid build up in the lungs
- irritation of the mucous membranes
- skin irritation and burns
- production of harmful VOC’s
- production of chloramines
Even though bleach has been used for many years, anyone using it should take special care. Bleach should never be mixed with ammonia, fragrances, or even urine or sunlight! Mixing these substances (and plenty of others!) with bleach can cause harmful gases.
Also, there are products that work just as well and do not have the same concern for health or the environment!
Options for a non-toxic bleach alternative
I mentioned earlier that I had tried a few different options to bleach for whitening whites. Some worked, some didn’t. But I will list the options and let you know the one that worked the best for me.
1. Plain white vinegar
The instructions for using vinegar as a whitener said to mix one part vinegar to six parts warm water. I did this and let the clothes soak overnight. I then washed as usual. The vinegar did whiten the clothes, but they still were not as white as I had hoped. Hanging them in the sun helped a little more. Overall, not a terrible option but not a good one if I do not have time to hang clothes on the line.
For this technique, you can either add a cup of lemon juice to your regular wash load. For extra whitening, add a lemon to hot water, add clothing, and let sit overnight. Wash the next day as usual.
This option did not work that well for me. We had some dingy socks and they did get whiter, but I wouldn’t say really white. I think this would work on something a little less dingy though.
3. Baking soda
I read that you can add baking soda right into your wash load. To try this method, add 1/2 cup to your laundry and wash as normal. Like the lemon juice, I noticed an improvement but not anything to be excited about.
4. Oxygen-based bleach products
As for this option, I tried two different brands (Seventh Generation Non-Chlorine Bleach and Ecos Oxo-Brite). I really like the convenience of not having to soak overnight or hang clothes out on the line, and they seemed to work ok, but they are still not my top pick.
Ready for my favorite non-toxic bleach alternative?
It is this one from Mommypotamus! This recipe worked the best and was made with non-toxic ingredients. Also, I had all of the ingredients on hand. Bonus!
The recipe has 4 simple ingredients:
- 4 cups of hot water
- 2/3 cup washing soda
- 1-2 cups hydrogen peroxide
- 10 drops lemon essential oil
Mix water and washing soda, stir until dissolved. Then mix in essential oil. You probably want to keep the peroxide separate because hot water can lessen the effectiveness of the peroxide. You can add the washing soda mixture to your washer (that is filled with clothes and cool water) and then add the peroxide. Soak clothes for a short time and then wash, or soak clothes in the mixture overnight.
I tried both options of soaking for a short time and soaking overnight. The overnight soak worked the best, of course, but the short soak did well too. For the really dingy clothes (like socks) I will soak overnight, but for other things, a short soak will be fine.
It bears mentioning- this recipe works well but you should still take care with clothes that have color on them. I haven’t noticed socks or other things coming out with bleach-like spots but be sure to test before using if that is a concern.
Depending on your water quality, what materials you are washing, and how white you want them to get, the bleach alternative options above could all be helpful to you.
My favorite was the recipe from Mommypotamus for a few reasons- I had all of the ingredients, it was inexpensive, all ingredients were healthier and non-toxic, and it worked!
The only drawback I found was soaking the clothes overnight, which I don’t love to do because I often forget, but really, that was necessary with the other options too.
Bleach. (n.d.). Retrieved from Beyond Toxics: https://www.beyondtoxics.org/work/green-home-cleaning-campaign/bleach/
Dessinger, H. (n.d.). Homemade Bleach Alternative. Retrieved from Mommypotamus: https://mommypotamus.com/homemade-bleach-alternative/
May, P. (2011, October). Molecule of the Month- Sodium Hypochlorite. Retrieved from University of Bristol: http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/motm/bleach/bleachh.htm
Online, M. (2014, February 12). Bleach (Sodium Hypochlorite) Safety Tips: Bleach Safety Instruction. Retrieved from MSDS Online: https://www.msdsonline.com/2014/02/12/bleach-sodium-hypochlorite-safety-tips-bleach-safety-instruction/