Homemade Bleach Alternative recipe that uses all natural ingredients found in your home and costs 1/3 less than store-bought. Plus it works great too! Also try using my Homemade Laundry Detergent which is perfect for sensitive skin!
A few big changes happened when we brought our first child home from the hospital.
Of course there’s the obvious: we added a member to the family.
But we also started thinking about putting locks on cabinets (which we didn’t do), figured out how to open and close a stroller with one hand (which deserves an award), and essentially gave up on sleeping altogether.
On a more personal note, I also stopped buying bleach and stopped sorting laundry.
Between Mr. Crumbs and I, there was only a red shirt or two in the house. So I figured as long as those shirts DIDN’T get washed with everything else and Mr. Crumbs wasn’t left wearing pink undershirts to work, I was good to go.
Fast forward 7 1/2 years and while sleeping is still a luxury, it happens on most nights. This now affords me time to reflect on things like what kind of glue is used for the stickers on my produce, why little building blocks that claim “guaranteed to fit 100% with other name-brand building blocks” don’t really fit (yes, I’m talking about you wannabe LEGOs) and how Mr. Crumb’s whitey tighties weren’t as white as they used to be.
Which led me to rethink my ban on bleach.
For like, two seconds.
I didn’t research bleach and whether or not it’s healthy and all that stuff, because I think it’s safe to say that bleach isn’t the best cleaning solution out there. You can’t eat it, it smells awful and it’s dangerous for kids. A triple whammy in my book and in this season of life, I’m kind of ready to find a better, more natural alternative anyway.
In the arena of homemade bleach alternatives, there seem to be a few major key players:
- hydrogen peroxide
- lemon juice
- baking soda
- citric acid
- lemon essential oil
The goal is to find a winning combination that a) brightens your clothes, b) smells good, and c) doesn’t irritate your skin.
All of the items above will gently brighten clothes, but you can’t just mix it all up in a pot and expect success. In fact, mixing vinegar and hydrogen peroxide creates peracetic acid which can be incredibly irritating to the skin, eyes and nasal passageways.
Seeing as I’m not really wanting to burn myself while doing laundry, and not really sure how this combination would affect my clothes in the long term, I scratched vinegar off the list.
Citric acid helps make the cleaning solution more effective if you have hard water, but I don’t keep this on hand and don’t want to buy it just for this recipe. So that got scratched off the list too.
After several rounds of washing our white cloth napkins and Mr. Crumbs undershirts, I’ve come up with a combination that gets the job done!
DIY: All-natural Homemade Bleach Alternative
- 3/4 cup 3% hydrogen peroxide
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 10-15 drops lemon essential oil**
- 3/4 cup baking soda
- 7 cups water
*Note: I love Plant Therapy essential oils. You can find their shop here.
I’ve also switched from my homemade laundry detergent to Thieves laundry detergent. I’ve found that it is washing my clothes MUCH better and is also MUCH cheaper!
Combine all ingredients in a container capable of holding 1/2 gallon or more. Shake well.
Use 1 cup per load, washing with the hottest water setting available.
Additional Recipe Notes
Some other recipes call for equal parts hydrogen peroxide and lemon juice, but I thought that was a bit expensive with so much lemon juice. The 3:1 ratio is enough to get the job done and keep costs down.
Hydrogen peroxide should be kept in a cool, dark place and preferably in a dark bottle. I used an old water jug for this solution, labeled it appropriately, and keep it stored in the garage where it’s normally dark anyway. Plus that’s where our washer and dryer are.
The water you add can be plain tap water. No need to use filtered water when it’s only going to be combined with tap water in the washer anyway.
This is an effective washing technique, but if your clothes are exceptionally dingy, it may take more than a simple wash and rinse to see a significant difference. You have a few options:
- soak dirty clothes and solution in the washer overnight; add detergent and finish the cleaning cycle in the morning
- wash dirty clothes twice in a row before drying
- wash in hot water
Log Home Shoppe
Hi all! Thanks for this very helpful and informative article & comment! I’ve been using Dr. Mercola’s Healthy Home Greener Cleaner Bleach Alternative and Laundry Pouches, and ECOS Magnolia and Lily Laundry Detergent for about a year.
Do you put this right into the drum before clothes or in the bleach compartment on a top loader?
Karen @ Team Crumbs
I think it depends on your preference and your machine. I think you could probably do either. Hope this helps. 🙂
To answer your question, I both love and hate store bought bleach. I don’t use it for laundry. I just like keeping it on hand for emergencies, such as this Covid-19 thing, and I am using it diluted in spray bottles, 1 part to 15 parts water, as is recommended on the CDC website. Because it is concentrated, One bottle will last me fo-evah! I’m so glad I keep it on hand, so that when people were hoarding (shame!), I had all I needed with just part of a bottle.
But I hate it for everything else. Bleach has messed up our laundry more times than helped it, so usually I use an oxygen cleaner and the “whites” cycle on my washer for brightening whites, as needed, and then doubling the rinse. I have been looking to DIY the oxygen cleaner, though, because store bought oxygen cleaner also has chemicals in it I would rather not use. My family has sensitive skin, and I also want our waste water to be as gentle on the environment as possible.
I have a question about your recipe. Hydrogen peroxide and lemon juice are acids, and baking soda is alkaline. Don’t they just bubble and cancel each other’s effectiveness when you mix it?
I just thought you should know, because I did not know at first either, but the diluted bleach in the spray bottle to kill germs needs to be made every single day to be effective – from the CDC: “Make a new diluted bleach solution daily. Bleach solutions will not be as effective after being mixed with water for over 24 hours.”
Just wanted to share with you… and thanks for all your reviews on Grove. I am considering ordering from them.
Take care and Happy New year!
I love this combination, I have tried other recipes and this one is the best. I have asthma and can no longer use anything with bleach.I love this one, and have been using it for about a year now. I use it not only for whites, but for my sheets and towels; and it never fades the colors. Thank you so much for this alternative.
I’m so glad this is working for you, Shannon! 🙂
Has anyone ever tried this to actually bleach the color out of cotton t-shirts? Does it work for that? I’m looking for an alternative to traditional bleach because it leaves holes behind in the fabric. Any thoughts?
Regarding laundry detergent. Have you heard of Soap Nuts? They come from India and grow on trees! You put them in your washing machine with your clothes and they wash them beautifully. They can be used for 4 to 5 washes before they need be thrown away; either onto the compost heap or in your garden (keeping away the slugs and snails). They are 100% bio-degradable and can be used for everything from washing clothes, cleaning the house, washing your pets to feeding your plants the soil. Now that’s what I call eco-friendly and they don’t cost that much either. I went onto Amazon UK and found them being sold at the standard price of £12.99 (yep I am English) and someone else was selling them at £60. Same brand name too. So in dollars it won’t be too much.
I just made a batch of this (used 1/2 cup lemon juice because we have a lot) and used it to soak my fabric shower curtain liner that I haven’t been able to get clean, it’s got that pink mold and it smells! I’ve washed it in bleach several times but I’ve never soaked it in bleach – which I would have used a heavily diluted mixture. This recipe worked amazing! The cleanest it’s been in a long time. I’m now making a 2nd batch to soak my other fabric liner in.
Thank you so much!
You’re so very welcome Michelle!
do u still u this bleach alternative today? have u tried it without the lemon essential oil?
Hi Charon! No, because we now have a front loader and I’m not sure how to make this work. I also haven’t tried it without the essential oil.
My mother-in-law says to use bleach to clean cutting boards we used for cutting raw meat. Could this be used as a healthier alternative? I just don’t feel comfortable putting bleach onto something we put food on, although I understand it’s supposed to kill bacteria, etc.
I don’t feel comfortable putting bleach on anything, Gabby!! This could be a healthier alternative, although I haven’t tested how well it works with killing germs and such. I use Thieves Household Cleaner (by Young Living) because I HAVE tested it against raw chicken (versus a vinegar-based cleaner) and it got the job done!! (The vinegar didn’t, BTW.)
Thanks for the recipe and helpful comments. I am just getting ready to switch our laundry methods to safer ones – this is just in time. My question is how do you store this – glass or plastic?
Small batches in glass would be best Amber!
Do you have to store extras in the fridge because there is lemon juice in it?
Hi there, Tiffany!
I’m wondering where the citric acid fits into your recipe…you have it in your original list, but in the list with measurements, it’s not there.
Thanks! I’m a YL member as well and love my oils!
Good question! It’s on the web as something helps to brighten clothes, but because it’s not something I normally have on hand, I didn’t test the recipe with it. 🙂
Ok, thanks, was just wondering about a measurement, but I’ll figure it out. =)
Have you ever had the pressure build up in your container? I made a batch up a few weeks ago and went to open it and the lid popped off as I loosened it like a champagne cork. Is it that I just made too much and haven’t used it quickly enough?
I didn’t run into that issue Whitney, so I’d say make a little less, or leave it vented, and you should be fine!
So this sounds just great; however, I am cautious as to whether this mix creates any toxic fumes. I have been reading that one should NEVER mix chlorine with anything acidic like lemon juice or vinegar and also never with hydrogen peroxide. Since tap water has chlorine in it, is this causing harmful vapors???
Hello! I was wondering if this technique will take colour out of a cotton fabric. I have a purple throw, but wish to naturally bleach it to be white or whiter. Let me know if you think this might work!
I’m not sure Natalie. If you WANT your throw to be white, then it couldn’t hurt giving this a shot!
Julie A Roberts
Hi all. Thanks for this very important and interesting article & comments! I have been using Dr. Mercola’s Healthy Home Greener Cleaner Bleach Alternative and Laundry Pouches for about a year or so, and ECOS Magnolia and Lily Laundry Detergent 210 fl. oz, (from Costco) for longer, yet they don’t seem to be doing that great a job any more, especially when used on certain stains as a pretreater. I can’t wait to try your DIY alternative!! However, most, if not all of my clothes say to wash in cool to warm water, not hot. I am thinking of trying a little load in both hot and cool/cold to check. Thanks again! 🙂
I can only get 6% hydrogen peroxide, can I use this instead of 3%?
Do you think I could use this to “bleach” cotton or denim?
If you leave it on long enough, it might. If you want to bleach something, I’d soak it for a long time, then put it out in the sun to dry.
I have never heard of that either; just thought I’d ask
If I need to soak clothes in the solution in a front load washer, would i put the solution directly into the drum, or in the container where you add bleach?
Because of how front loaders are designed, you can’t soak clothes in them. You’ll have to do this in a tub. Sorry!
how to address the front loading machine ( having in our family) , how we can use this in front loading machines