Avoid Chlorine Bleach-Make Your Own Whitener or Use the Sun

Once you make the switch to natural laundry soaps and cold water washing, the need for chlorine bleach may creep into your laundry habits. Yet chlorine bleach is harmful to humans and the environment; the good news is alternatives exist. These alternatives are nontoxic or less toxic and will allow you to keep your whites white with a clear, green conscious.

Although bleach manufacturer Clorox claims bleach does not enter groundwater, the addition of bleach to water can free chlorine that can result in the formation of chloroform. Bleach can also combine with ammonia in septic and drainage systems, thus resulting in monochloramine, which is dangerous to wildlife. Furthermore, bleach is harmful to humans. Bleach off gasses for a period of time. Bleach fumes from sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach) can cause pulmonary embolisms in susceptible people. In addition, 25,000 children a year in the United States experience an accident involving bleach, such as ingestion, and it is the most common household chemical involved in poisonings. Despite these risks, many groups find household bleach use to be safe, as paper bleaching, pesticides, and plastics manufactures pose greater threats; however, alternatives do exist.

When shopping in your local co-op or natural food store, you may see alternative bleach products sold by companies such as Seventh Generation. The active ingredient in these alternative bleach products is hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is not carcinogenic to humans, but it is a skin irritant and harmful if swallowed or exposed to the eyes. In addition, it can be harmful to aquatic life. It is simple and more cost effective to make your own oxygen-based whitener by mixing hydrogen peroxide with water, in about a 50:50 ratio. According to Seventh Generation, “If every household in the U.S. replaced just one bottle of 48 oz. chlorine bleach with non-chlorine bleach we could prevent 8.2 million pounds of chlorine from entering our environment.”

Another alternative to chlorine bleach is to let the sun do the whitening for you. Add 1/2 cup of lemon juice into the rinse cycle, then hang your clothes to dry in the sun. The acid in the lemon juice provides bleaching power, and the sun will sanitize your clothes. This option is great for colors too and will reduce your carbon footprint by eliminating clothes dryer usage!

Alternatives to chlorine bleach do exist, and with a little bit of effort, you can protect your family and environment from this potentially harmful product. Lemon juice, the sun, and hydrogen peroxide provide alternatives accessible to everyone. Keep your whites bright while making your home a safer place!

This post originally appeared on Green Options.


  1. Thanks for the tips. I can’t wait for the day that I can have a clothesline. We live in an apartment right now so on laundry days there is laundry drying all over the place. I too stopped using bleach. I used it on EVERYTHING. I can absolutely tell the difference now.
    The other day my daughter’s pediatrician looked at me like I was crazy when I said we stopped using bleach. He said that it kills germs. I said so does vinegar!
    I would be very interested in a post about being a vegetarian. I am a newbie. I am just learning how to do this while pregnant and feeding a one year old.


  2. Jennifer Lance says:

    Thanks for the post suggestion Sheri! I wrote it down on my to do list.

    I recently attending a preschool workshop where the presenter said that we have this magical belief about bleach in this country. She said it only kills germs when left on a surface long enough, and most people don’t leave it on long enough for it to be effective. In addition, warm water and soap kills germs too!

  3. Ami Scott says:

    Thanks for this. While I too, have stopped using bleach, I didn’t know about adding lemon juice to the rinse cycle. I’ll have to try this on my dipes and see if it helps with some of the staining. My mother got upset at me the other day when she discovered that I no longer had bleach and went on this long harangue about how bleach is a must have for germs, etc. I just wanted to laugh and I did show her several articles talking about bleach free alternantives. She was surprised to learn that lavendar is such an excellent disinfectance which I was surprised she didn’t know considering she’s so gaga about lavendar. Ah, well. She did leave in thoughtful silence. I just didn’t see the point in having such a dangerous chemical around when there are other ways of keeping my laundry as well as my household smelling fresh and clean. Oh, and thanks for the awesome bag! I love it and I can’t wait to show it off. LOL, my poor husband was quite dissapointed. He was hoping it was his birthday present arrived and the look on his face when he opened it was priceless.

  4. I can’t wait to try this. I have already ditched commercial cleaners in lieu of baking soda, vinegar, and Borax. This will make things even better!

  5. Georgia says:

    regular white vinegar works too! It kills germs, brightens whites and is completely non-toxic.

  6. I have a tip that my Mother gave me also laying cloths with hars to get out stains, lay washing out on grass, in the sun, helps get stains out

  7. Sorry last email I sent, my cat was jumping on my keys, just lay clothes that have stains, on the lawn and the combination of grass and sun helps get stains out

  8. I have chlorine because it dries out skin and damage the hair. That’s one of the reason why I wear cap when swimming.


  1. […] brainwashed to believe we must KILL KILL KILL bacteria and viruses by using toxic substances like chlorine bleach, triclosan and fancy “antibacterial” products. Thanks to mass marketing ploys such as […]

  2. […] Chlorine bleach is bad for the environment and more importantly, it is bad for the health of our families and our homes. While traditional household concentrations of bleach won’t cause any life threatening reaction if ingested, it is still a toxic chemical, one that our homes should be free of. […]

  3. […] rinse cycle before putting the laundry out on the clothesline to dry for bleaching power – Avoid Chlorine Bleach – Make Your Own Whitener or Use the Sun. The article has lots of useful tips as the title […]

Speak Your Mind