Keeping White clothes Bright:
Keep white laundry separate. You may not think separating your white laundry is that important, but it only takes one red sock to ruin your favorite white shirt or even an entire load of white clothes. Also, you may not immediately notice when your whites start looking dingier over time, but they will at some point if you’re washing them with dark colors. The best practice is to wash white clothes alone every time. Then you can use the following whitening hacks without worrying about harming your colors!
Whiten laundry with hydrogen peroxide. Add 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide to a load of laundry to brighten whites.
Make a DIY laundry booster to help clean. If your laundry detergent isn’t working well enough to remove dirt and stains from white clothes, add 1 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of borax to each load to give it some extra cleaning and whitening power.
Make your own homemade bleach alternative. Whiten laundry without the dangers of commercial bleach with this easy three-ingredient DIY bleach alternative. Since this solution is mostly water, it’s perfectly fine to use this amount in HE washers too. You can also use this mixture as an all-purpose cleaner all over your house. Do not save any remaining mixture.
11/2 cups hydrogen peroxide
1/2 cup lemon juice
12 cups water
1-gallon glass jar or jug
- Mix the ingredients in the jar, and stir gently to combine.
- Add 1–2 cups to each load of whites.
Use the hottest water recommended on care labels. Washing white clothes in the hottest water recommended for that fabric will help keep them whiter longer.
Brighten dull whites with lemon juice. Pour 1/2 cup of lemon juice into a load of whites to brighten without dangerous chemicals.
Use vinegar as a fabric softener. Commercial fabric softeners can leave residue on clothes, making them appear dull. Add 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle to remove detergent residues, soften clothes, and leave whites bright.
Treat stains with hydrogen peroxide. Pour some hydrogen peroxide on the stain, and let it sit for 10–15 minutes. Blot with a cloth, then rinse in cold water. This even works on bloodstains!
Use salt to whiten wool. Fill a sink or bucket with cold water, and toss in 1/2 cup of salt. Soak the wool sweater or scarf in the solution overnight. The next morning, swish the garment in the water one final time to remove any dirt. Remove from the water, and squeeze as much water out as you can without wringing. Lay it flat to dry.
Save money with a DIY oxygen bleach. This homemade oxygen bleach recipe is much cheaper and works just as well as a store–bought kind but without the dangerous chemicals!
1 tablespoon washing soda
1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide
2 tablespoons water
- Mix the ingredients in a bowl. Put in a spray bottle to pretreat stains before washing, or use it to soak laundry.
- Add the entire mixture to a load of laundry, and fill the washing machine with water. Soak the laundry for 30 minutes, then wash as usual. Only mix as much as you need for immediate use since the mixture quickly loses its effectiveness when stored.
Use lemon and sunshine to bleach stains naturally. Put lemon juice on stains, and hang the shirt out in the sun to dry. The sun and lemon will work together to whiten even the toughest stains!
Whiten pillows with hydrogen peroxide. Wash 2 pillows at once to help keep your washing machine balanced and facilitate cleaning. Set your washing machine to soak, and add 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide. Run the pillows through the cycle, then toss in the dryer.
Hang clothes outside to dry. Make it a habit of drying white clothes outside in the sunshine all the time, not just when they’re stained. The ultraviolet rays from the sun will help whiten and brighten garments naturally.
Use a low heat setting on the dryer. If you dry your clothes in the dryer, choose the lowest setting for white clothes. High heat can cause whites to turn yellow, and it sets stains.
Remove stains with salt. Make a paste with 1 tablespoon of salt and a few drops of water. Rub it into the stain, and let it sit for an hour. Rinse with warm water, and watch the stain disappear!
Remove offensive odors from towels with vinegar and baking soda. To deep clean towels, fill your washer with hot water, add 1 cup of white vinegar, and run towels through a wash cycle. Once that cycle is complete, leave the towels in the washer. Add 1/2 cup of baking soda, wash again in hot water, then dry thoroughly in the dryer or outside. The odors should be completely gone, but if any linger, you can repeat this process until your towels smell fresh and clean. Use this method when you notice your towels aren’t as fresh and absorbent as usual.
Mix underarm odors with vodka. Mix 1/3 cup of vodka and 1 cup of water in a spray bottle, and shake to combine. Perform a spot test on an inconspicuous spot, and if it works okay, spray liberally on smelly underarm fabric on shirts, blouses, and even dryclean- only garments, and let them sit overnight. Check the garment in the morning. If the smell is still there, re-treat. If the smell is gone, wash the garment in cold water, and hang to dry. The heat from the dryer can set odors if they aren’t completely gone. Once you’re sure the odors are out of the garment, launder as usual.
Keep clothes smelling fresh with lavender essential oil. Do you have a load you need to wash but won’t be able to dry immediately? To keep odors at bay, put a couple drops of lavender essential oil or another antifungal oil on a sock or rag, and add it to the wash.
Soak linens to remove offensive odors. If your bed linens aren’t smelling fresh and clean after washing, soak them in a bucket or sink filled with hot water. Add 1 cup of white vinegar and 1 tablespoon of natural dish soap, and stir the solution with your arm to mix. Add your sheets, and swish them around to saturate them in the cleaning solution. Soak for at least 30 minutes or overnight, then wash as usual.
Use baking soda to remove tough odors. Remove even the toughest odors like gasoline from your clothes by soaking them in baking soda. Fill a bucket or the washing machine with warm water, and add 1 cup of baking soda. Soak the smelly garment in the mixture for 3–4 hours or overnight, then launder as usual. Repeat for extreme odors.
Make a laundry scent booster with salt and essential oil. You don’t need the strong, synthetic fragrances in commercial products to make your laundry smell fresh and clean. This DIY laundry scent booster provides a nice, light fragrance without unhealthy chemicals!
3-pound box kosher salt
25–30 drops essential oil
1/2-gallon Mason jar
- Pour the salt in a medium bowl, and add your favorite essential oils, such as lavender, lemongrass, peppermint, or lemon. Stir well to combine. Store the mixture in an airtight container.
- To use, add 1/2 cup into the washing machine per load, and launder as usual. The salt will soften clothes, and the essential oil will freshen and remove dirt and odors.
Scrub away mold and mildew with a toothbrush. If the garment has visible mold on it, use a toothbrush to gently scrape it away before washing to allow the washing machine to reach deep into the fibers and remove the rest of the stain.
Use buttermilk to remove mildew stains from clothes. Soak the garment for a few hours in 1 cup of buttermilk in 1 gallon of water before washing. The high acid content in the buttermilk will help kill mildew and germs.
Freshen musty towels with vodka. Start filling your washer with water, and add 1/3 cup of vodka and the amount of laundry soap you typically use for soiled loads. Once the washer is finished filling with water, add the towels, let them soak for 1–2 hours, then wash as usual. Once the cycle is complete, check to see if the smell is gone, and repeat the process, if necessary.
Mix mildew smells with vinegar. Fill your washer’s fabric softener dispenser with white vinegar to kill bacteria and neutralize odors in your laundry. You can also put the vinegar in a Downy Ball and toss it in the wash for the same effect.
Soak laundry with tough mildew odors. Add 1 cup of white vinegar to a bucket of water. Use warm water unless the clothes label recommends otherwise. (Don’t use hot water, since it may set the stain.) Soak clothes for a few hours or overnight, then wash in the morning with additional vinegar added to the fabric softener dispenser.
Soak with homemade oxygen bleach. Mix up a batch of DIY oxygen bleach (see earlier in this chapter for the recipe). Add it to a bucket of warm water or a washing machine filled with water, and soak the item until the stain is removed. Some mildew stains will lift quickly, while others will take hours, overnight, or even a few days. Check the stain every hour or two. If you’re concerned about colorfastness, check the stain every 20–30 minutes.
Kill mildew growth with hydrogen peroxide. For one garment, mix 3 cups of water with 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide, and soak the garment for 15 minutes. Rinse well with water, then wash as usual. Hang to dry outside or in a well-ventilated area.
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