I’ve talked before about bleach and how it definitely has its place in washing and whitening laundry.
But what if you have an item that won’t tolerate bleach? Such as lace or a delicate linen or an old handkerchief…
There are a few options that you have as an alternative to bleach.
Our Great-Grandmas definitely knew the wonderful bleaching powers of the sun and they took advantage of them every Monday (Wash Day).
Women left their whites hanging on the line all day long to maximize the sun’s bleaching effects.
When my cloth diapers are looking a little dingy, I hang them outside and it is amazing how quickly they whiten up. Not to mention that they have that irreplaceable ‘line-dried’ smell.
There’s no trick to using the sun. Simply wash as usual and then hang on a clothesline, a drying rack, or even in the grass to take advantage of what I consider to be free bleach!
Yes, the item that you use for making meringue and homemade biscuit mix.
This works especially well for items that are yellowed or dingy. Items like old baby clothes, or old lace doilies. You typically wouldn’t use this concoction for everyday white socks.
It’s pretty simple: Wash your item as usual (handwash if needed). Dissolve 1 teaspoon cream of tartar in one quart of luke-warm water. Soak your item overnight and then dry on your clothesline or drying rack. Of course double or triple the recipe as needed for the dingy item to be fully covered in water.
This is an old-timey method, but still works beautifully today! And it’s cheap!
If you’ve read here at Mama’s Laundry Talk long at all, you probably know my love for the Oxi-Clean. We’re such bosom buddies.
Oxi-Clean rarely bleaches clothes, but definitely try it on a seam first if you’re nervous about it.
It is similar to the cream of tartar recipe in that you make a concoction and then let the item soak overnight.
For a smaller item, like a baby outfit or lace doily I use a 1/2 scoop Oxi-Clean dissolved completely in about a gallon of water. I just eye-ball the water. Let it soak 1-3 hours and then check to see the progress. I’ve even let items soak up to 36 hours without the color fading, but you need to keep an eye on it, especially if it is a delicate item.
After soaking, I rinse well under luke-warm water and hang dry outside in the sun.
Do you have questions about how to soak items? Or how to whiten them? Feel free to ask in the comment section…