By now I am sure that most of you know that bleach is incredibly toxic to both you and the environment around you. As I have mentioned before, chlorine bleach releases dioxin, furans and other organochlorines into the air, can cause sore throats, coughs, wheezing, shortness of breath, fluid in the lungs and studies have shown a relationship between dioxin exposure and cancer, birth defects, and developmental/reproductive disorders.
Sounds like something you should be using to wash your clothes in, right? And although the above is all true, bleach is still the chemical of choice for whiter whites…but there are alternatives that are much safer for your family that you could be using. Let’s take a look.
All-Natural Bleach Alternatives
Even without bleach, it’s still possible for you to enjoy really white clothes. Believe it or not, there are tons of bleach alternatives out there and most of them are probably inside your home already.
Check out the list below.
1. Baking Soda
Baking soda does an excellent job when it comes to removing stains. It’s a whitening agent which you can add to your laundry detergent to maximize its effect.
Apart from that, baking soda is also good in softening and deodorizing clothes, making it a great fabric softener replacement.
Baking soda is easy to use as a bleach alternative. All you need to do is add it directly to your wash load right before putting your laundry.
Just take note that it doesn’t dissolve completely.
Vinegar is awesome for a lot of things. For one, it’s a great natural disinfectant since it’s 80% effective against bacteria, viruses and mold.
As a bleach alternative, there are two ways you can use vinegar. First, you can pour it into your washing machine like how you would use regular bleach.
The second way is by soaking. For this, you’ll need to mix it with hot water to make it extra effective in lifting stains.
Lemons are naturally acidic, making them a safe bleach alternative. It works just like vinegar.
However, when it comes to using it for brightening up dirty laundry, you’ll need to use one cup of lemon juice and pour it into your washing machine.
4. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is better than chlorine bleach because it’s oxygen-based and biodegradable. Plus, it’s relatively cheap too.
As a bleach alternative, all you have to do is to use a cup of it and add it to each load of laundry. You can directly add it to your washing machine while it’s still filling up with water. Alternatively, you can also add it to your bleach dispenser.
You can use hydrogen peroxide on both white or colored laundry. Just make sure you don’t pour it directly on your clothes since that’ll cause spotting and damage.
This one’s a bit surprising but yes, sunlight works as a natural disinfectant. Its ultraviolet radiation kills diarrhea-causing pathogens.
If you have an item that you want to disinfect, you can bring move it outside and leave it under the sun for a couple of hours. In case you need to brighten and disinfect a piece of laundry, spray the affected area with a mixture of a cup of lemon juice or vinegar before hanging it in the sun.
A piece of advice: Do not combine them all together. I just wanted to let you know that these ingredients are much safer alternatives to chlorine bleach. Hydrogen peroxide, which sounds the most dangerous of all the above, breaks down into water and oxygen in the wastewater.
5 Best Bleach Alternatives You Can Buy Today
Besides making your own versions of whiteners from lemon or vinegar, there are several brands available that come pre-made and ready to use. They are proven to be very effective in getting your clothes whiter while being safe for use around your family.
1. The Laundress New York – All-Purpose Bleach Alternative
This All-Purpose Bleach Alternative is on top of this list for two reasons: First, it’s a cleaning solution you can use for your entire home. You can safely use it to remove dirt, odors and even stain. Second, it’s allergen-free. It’s made without toxic chemicals or harsh fragrances.
Additionally, it’s great to use on laundry items too. It’s gentle so you won’t have to worry about your delicate pieces. It’s color-safe as well.
Another thing you’ll love about this product is its commitment to stay cruelty-free. There are no animal by-products used in making it. It’s never tested on animals as well.
2. Ecover Non-Chlorine Bleach
Ecover Non-Chlorine Bleach has zero optical brighteners, dyes or fragrances. Its formula is both biodegradable and non-toxic which means that it can deodorize and clean your entire home naturally and safely.
ECover Zero has been in business for more than 35 years already. It’s a well-known name when it comes to eco-friendly products and that includes this non-chlorine bleach.
To use this for stain removal, you can apply it directly to the affected area. Remember to rub in before washing promptly. Keep in mind to never allow the product to stay on your fabric for a long time.
For household use, add a half cup of the product to a gallon of water. Use this mixture when cleaning surfaces. Make sure that you’re using gloves while cleaning.
Not tested on animals, the product is also approved by the Vegan Society.
3. Bi-O-Kleen Oxygen Bleach Plus
Bi-O-Kleen Oxygen Bleach Plus has an interesting list of ingredients, particularly the grapefruit seed extract.
In case you’re wondering, that specific ingredient is considered a powerful disinfectant. It’s used in sanitizing disinfecting wounds, purifying drinking water, sanitizing dishes and sterilizing fruits and vegetables.
Along with special detergent boosters and fabric and water conditioners, it makes the product even more effective. It works really well in cleaning tough stains and removing odors. Plus, it’s ultra-concentrated so you can use less to clean more at home.
4. Oxi-Clean Non-Chlorine Bleach
Oxi-Clean Non-Chlorine Bleach is an excellent choice if you need to deal with tough, nasty stains while doing your laundry. Although it’s made for whites, you can still use it on colors without worrying about fading or damaging fabrics. In fact, it’s a good product to use if you have mixed-color clothing.
In case you’re dealing with extra tough stains, it’s a good idea to soak it first in a basin of water with one scoop of the product. Wait for about six hours before doing a final wash.
Take note that this product may not be the best choice if you’re doing leather, silk or wool. And to be extra sure, check for color-fastness before doing all your laundry. This is one way to make sure your color clothes don’t bleed.
5. Savvy Green Oxygen Brightening Powder
If you want super vibrant clothes, then consider this a must-have product. It’s an oxygen-based bleach that works really well in whitening whites and brightening colors. You can say goodbye to stained and dull-looking clothes with this.
In addition to removing stains, Savvy Green Oxygen Brightening Powder also deodorizes. It dramatically boosts the cleaning power of your detergent too.
Even though it can whiten and brighten clothes, it’s not the best choice for heavily soiled items. You may need to use a lot of the product if you’re dealing with such stains.
Is It Really That Bad to Use Bleach?
You can consider what was mentioned earlier about the ill effects of bleach like the tip of an iceberg. If you do more research, you’ll find more reasons not to use bleach at all.
Here’s the thing:
The more you use bleach, the more residue and fumes you’re taking into your home. And the more you get in contact with them, the more damage you’ll be causing your lungs and organs.
Obviously, you won’t feel the effects right away. You’ll probably just experience a bit of lightheadedness and stinging in your eyes and nose.
However, in the long run, prolonged exposure to bleach can cause permanent damages to your lugs. It can also cause reproductive effects and even cancer.
Bleach is also harmful to pets. Although they won’t likely ingest it intentionally because of its potent scent, exposure is possible if you use bleach to clean your floors or wash their beddings.
Once they lick it, they may end up ingesting the chemical. And as a result, your pets can experience vomiting, convulsions and even death.
Also, bleach isn’t the best thing to use for cleaning furniture items, particularly faux leather.
Do Bleach Alternatives Work?
Well, the quick answer is yes.
But here’s the thing: Bleach alternatives take a bit more time to work than actual chlorine bleach. And to get the best results, you may need to soak your clothing items for at least two hours or even overnight before washing them.
Some may even require you to follow specific instructions. Powdered oxygen bleach is an excellent example. For it to be activated, you’ll need to add water.
Meanwhile, ultraviolet rays can cause colored fabrics to fade so make sure to not overexpose your items to the sun for long hours.
With that in mind, it’s good if you can set your expectations straight. Remember, these bleach alternatives are safer options.
Of course, this post is mostly about bleach alternatives for washing your clothes, but the same type of ingredients can be used to clean your kitchen and/or bathroom. Bon Ami makes a great safe scrubber and vinegar makes a real good mold killer.
So the next time you are about to pick up a bottle of bleach, do yourself a favor and try out a bleach alternative…your family and the environment will thank you!