Lemon Juice Laundry Whitener: A Natural Bleach Alternative

Last Update: September 28, 2022

Just about everything looks good in bright white—couches, towels, sheets, jeans, button-ups. There’s just something minimalist and chic about it. And when it comes to clothes, while certain colors can wash out certain skin tones, white flatters pretty much everyone.

The one downside? White fabrics get dirty and dingy really quickly.

But just toss the offending item in the washer with some powerful bleach, and voila, those yellow sweat stains are gone, right? OK, this strategy might work, but it comes with another problem—it’s not the safest. Bleach is not only poisonous when ingested, but using it even in your laundry routine can exacerbate asthma, and cleaning with it has even been linked to respiratory illness in children.

Thankfully, we’ve got a totally natural substitute that will have everything from white sheets to bath towels to T-shirts looking brand new again. It’s lemon juice to the rescue!

Citric acid is the natural compound inside responsible for lightening and brightening—and it’s as effective as conventional fabric whitening products. Add a mixture of ¼ to ½ cup lemon juice (ideally, fresh) and 1½ cups hydrogen peroxide to the load along with detergent to brighten dingy whites. Be careful to separate out any colors, though—like bleach, it could cause them to fade.

An added bonus? Your laundry will smell citrusy and fresh!

Illustration by Foley Wu

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Annalise Mantz

Annalise is a foodie, Brussels sprouts lover, grammar nerd, and political pet aficionado.

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