Have you ever leaned on your washer after using chlorine bleach? There are a few items in my closet with the tell-tale white strip across the abdomen. Not a happy day.
I'm saying this to say that if you haven’t already discovered chlorine bleach can be disastrous for your clothing. It may turn them whiter to begin with but in the long run will weaken the fabric fibers and cause a dingy hue on your once were whites. I do use chlorine bleach now and then but for ongoing whiteness in the laundry room I prefer something that will let my clothes last a little longer. New duds don't come cheap.
Whitening Tips for the Laundry Room
So here are some easy, mostly natural ideas for lightening the whites in your home. Think towels, bed linens, t-shirts, underclothes, kitchen cloths, and the like.
Whiten with Vinegar
Start by giving your washer a vinegar rinse. Many times the gray dull color we see on our clothing is due to hard water. White vinegar breaks down those mineral deposits. Run an empty load with hot water and a couple of cups of white vinegar. If you don’t have any on hand vinegar and lemon juice work the same here so either will suffice.
Now that it is summer it’s the perfect time to use the bleaching power of the sun to naturally brighten and whiten your dingy whites.
After laundering your items lay them out in the sun for drying. If you don’t have a clothing line hanging in you backyard (a very good economical idea) then lay them on untreated, grass, bushes, or even prop your free standing clothes drying rack on the porch.
If the whole drying in the sun thing is not your cup of tea try adding a cup of lemon juice to your wash cycle. Lemons from the source is best but bottled lemon juice (and only lemon juice) should work fine too. Lemons as a bleaching agent is one of those great old time, vintage homemaking tips.
Finally try another old timey tip of using a bluing agent. Bluing agents add a very light blue tinge to your clothing helping them to appear whiter. At the turn of the 20th century this was very common in the laundering of clothing. Mrs. Stewart's Bluing is one of the most popular bluing agents while also being non-toxic and environmentally friendly.
Finally please don’t try all of this on your high end, one of a kind, silk charmeuse, or what have you, items. Test your methods before attacking all of your clothing.