March 18, 2011

Whitening without Bleach

March 18, 2011
I have a really hard time using chlorine bleach in my house.

It is amazing for killing all kinds of bacteria and viruses and it cleans like a champ but the label clearly states that it is corrosive and dangerous. Even the fumes can be harmful.

"If you’ve ever read the warning label on a bottle of Clorox, you know that chlorine—even when diluted—is hazardous: it may damage eyes and skin, and in high concentrations its’ vapors may aggravate heart and respiratory conditions. The EPA admits that chlorine causes eye, nose, and stomach problems. What you may not know is that chlorine has actually been used as a weapon of war: in WWI both sides employed chlorine gas to destroy soldiers’ respiratory organs and immobilize them with fits of coughing. More recently Iraqi insurgents have detonated chlorine tankers and used chlorine in car bombs." (source:

When I was in college I spilled a whole bottle of bleach on my dorm room floor, and half of it soaked into my jeans. So I stuck my jeans in the shower and poured bleach over the rest of them. They looked really cool and vintage, but they only lasted about 2 weeks longer. The fabric had been corroded so much that soon my jeans sported holes in the knees, then the thighs. They were falling to pieces.
And FYI, The dorm floor had to be replaced, which I unhappily paid for.

When I started printing t-shirts I was using bleach to create my designs. After about 5-6 washes I noticed my shirts getting tiny holes where I had bleached them. The bleach was eating my beautiful shirts!
I scoured the internet trying to find out why this was happening. I had washed the shirts in hot water, which is supposed to neutralize the bleach. Obviously that was doing nothing.
And if it doesn't wash out in hot water that means it stays in our clothes and sits on our skin every time we wear those bleached clothes or sleep on those bleached sheets.

And have you ever poured bleach on wood? Artists and woodworkers use it to make the wood look old, like barn wood. It it ages wood that fast just think of what it is doing when it worn next to your skin all day long.

Bottom line, chlorine bleach is corrosive. It is hard on your clothes and it doesn't wash out in hot water. Why do we use it?

We like whiter whites!

There are other options out there:


For your LAUNDRY:

1. Hydrogen Peroxide. It is a great whitener and it is also a fantastic disinfectant. It is inexpensive and available everywhere. Peroxide is especially effective on blood stains. 

2. Lemon juice and sunshine. Soak your whites in hot water with lemon slices or add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of lemon juice to your wash and hang them out to dry. Use the powers of nature to whiten!

3. White Vinegar. I use this stuff all over my house. Washing fruits and veggies, cleaning soap scum, and in the laundry. Vinegar has a strong smell but it actually makes a great laundry deodorizer! Seriously!! The acid levels of vinegar make it a great disinfecting deodorizer and it will loosen the oils and soap residue from your whites that make them look grey and grungy. Add 1/2 a cup to your regular wash. 

6. Baking soda. Add about 1/2 cup to your wash for impressive whitening and deodorizing POWER!

5. Laundry boosters. My favorite is Oxi-Clean. It gives your detergent some extra oomph to get them as clean as they can be.

There are still some instances where I have found that only bleach gets the job done, but it isn't good for our clothes or for us if we are being exposed to it constantly. If you want to live a healthy and clean life, save the bleach for emergencies.
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