We all have a favorite white t-shirt, pair of shorts or pants, that eventually get a little dingy looking. Whether they’re a bit stained or just yellowing or greying, there are ways to brighten the whites we love and get a few more uses out of them.

  • Bleach. Most people start here to brighten white clothing. But be careful, because if you use bleach too much your clothes may thin out and you’ll see those pesky little holes pop up. Follow the instructions on your washing machine to effectively use this chemical brightener.
  • Baking Soda. You can “go green” by adding some baking soda to the wash. Baking soda can help eliminate odors as well as boost the whiteness in your clothes.
  • Whitening Products. These are the powders that you add which are oxygenated and can help restore the whites to their like-new color.
  • Prewash Spray. Use these to treat individual spots and before you put your clothes in the dryer, make sure the stain is out. If it didn’t work you may need to treat again or find an alternative way to whiten your clothes.

From Whole Living, here is a great way to whiten using “washing soda”:

You can use a chlorine-free commercial bleach based on hydrogen peroxide or oxygen, or DIY it with some old-fashioned basic ingredients. I recommend the recipe below, which uses washing soda (a powdered mineral soap available wherever you buy baking soda).
Presoak the item in 2 tsp. washing soda mixed with 1 gallon water in a pan, or add 1/2 cup to a washer load before you start it.
Add 1/2 cup or so of mineral-based Borax or white vinegar in 1 gallon water during the wash cycle, or lemon juice and water at the rinse cycle, to brighten and help lift stains. (Make sure you wear gloves to protect your skin.)

Hanging white clothing outside to dry on sunny days offers fabrics a natural bleaching effect which comes from the sun. Rit Whitener and Brightener is a laundry additive that you can buy which claims to boost your whites to their former glory without the use of bleach. And for a longer process, without bleach, check out this tutorial from