Homemade bleach alternative: natural whitening solution. Your clothes and lungs will thank you!

Recipe Update: This recipe has been updated from the original recipe (which used lemon juice with the ingredients), because I discovered a simpler and easier recipe that doesn’t require a blender and works just as awesome! The modified recipe (fully updated below) even removed a 6 hour-old red wine stain from our white IKEA slipcover couch (the slipcover was removed and soaked in the whitening solution).

If you’re interested in the original recipe (which works great, but when a simpler version is available why not use it instead?): 2 gallons of warm/hot water, 2 lemons (quartered), 1 cup hydrogen peroxide, and 1/2 cup washing soda. Blend the hydrogen peroxide and lemons in the blender (yes, hydrogen is safe to use in a blender since it’s a great disinfectant–just wash it out after making the solution). Pour the lemon mixture and washing soda into the warm/hot water and soak your garment for 30 minutes. The garment will probably look yellow from the lemon juice, but I haven’t had any issues with the lemon juice remaining on garments once washed in the washing machine. Wash the garment in the washing machine with warm/hot water and laundry soap. 

How does it feel to wear white again?

AMAZING, right?!

Who knew the secret to spotless whites (and colors) could be found in three ingredients most of us already own, or can easily obtain: glycerin, castile soap, water, and lemon. If you’re totally lost right now, I highly recommend skipping over to last week’s laundry recipe post featuring an effective and simple stain remover spray. Once you’ve grabbed that recipe you’ll want to come back here for today’s easy peasy recipe. Trust me, your clothes will be forever changed.

Since we are all in a good laundry mood around here thanks to last week’s stain remover spray, we might as well just deepen the laundry love. Let’s talk about laundry again, okay?

For the first few years of our marriage (we are coming up on the big 10 next month!), I was a chlorine bleach fanatic. If the bathroom was dirty, I reached for the bottle of bleach. When the ice cream from last night’s outing decided to visit with my favorite white shorts, the bottle of bleach was put to use. When our linoleum floors went well past a cleaning appointment (with me!), bleach came to the rescue. I think you get the picture: I loved bleach. And truthfully, I’m not really sure how that love was developed since my parents rarely used this strong whitening and disinfecting agent in their home. Maybe it was the cheap price or the POW  job it seemed to perform? Whatever it was, my love was a bit extreme.

I see you cringing over there. Trust me, I cringe at the very thought of my intense use and love for bleach. Oh yea, and then the smell? I don’t even want to think about the number of brain cells I probably killed by inhaling so much chlorine bleach. The thought is just depressing, so let’s not go there. The good news is the happy turning point of my bleach saga happens right about now…

Homemade bleach alternative: natural whitening solution

From the start of our marriage Dustin was the “healthier” one. When I’d be chowing down on Edy’s ice cream late at night, he would reach for a container of strawberries. While I continued to feed my sugar and coke addiction, Dustin usually reached for water or juice (sure, the juice probably contained just as much sugar). And when it came to bleach, Dustin always made a point to say, “I wish you wouldn’t use that stuff! It hurts my lungs.”

I really hate to admit this next point about myself, but here it goes: I tend to be a pretty stubborn person. Yep, it’s not my most flattering quality, but somewhere deep inside there’s this little voice that wants to do it my way until I’ve been proven wrong about a million times. Like I said, not a great quality, but we’re all about truth around here.

Despite Dustin regularly pointing out the whole “I don’t like bleach” plea, I continued to use it for two reasons: 1/ I was stubborn 2/ I couldn’t find a better alternative. The “bleach alternative” from the store just didn’t cut it.

For the sake of not boring you this morning, let’s just skip ahead to the really good part of this story…

Almost ten years into our marriage, I’m excited to finally share that 2014 was my year for giving up bleach once and for all! Granted, I had cut back on my use of this product many years before, but I still used it on occasion for a tough job and white clothes. As it turns out, a homemade bleach alternative existed right under my nose–a nose that desperately needed a break from bleach!

Homemade Bleach Alternative: Whitening Recipe--Only THREE ingredients

Three ingredients are used to make my homemade bleach alternative: water, hydrogen peroxide, and washing soda (thanks to a much higher PH level than baking soda). These ingredients are inexpensive and, when combined, create a super effective deodorizing and whitening agent.

Homemade bleach alternative: natural whitening solution. Your clothes and lungs will thank you!

Are you ready to tackle some laundry? Awesome!

Let’s do this!

Homemade bleach alternative: natural whitening solution
5 from 6 votes

Homemade Bleach Alternative

Three ingredients are used to make my homemade bleach alternative: water, hydrogen peroxide, and washing soda (thanks to a much higher PH level than baking soda).
Kristin Marr
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Course DIY, Homemade
Cuisine Cleaning
Servings 1 Load
Cost: $5


  • 2 gallon warm water
  • 1 cup hydrogen peroxide 3%
  • 1/2 cup washing soda


  • Blend the hydrogen peroxide and lemons in the blender.
  • Pour the lemon mixture and washing soda into the warm/hot water and soak your garment for 30 minutes.
  • Wash the garment in the washing machine with warm/hot water and laundry soap. 
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

A Few Helpful Notes:

  • This solution is intended to be a one-time use recipe. I make this bleach alternative as needed. You can use the solution multiple times during the day if you’re doing a quick soak (not hours of soaking) for the garments; just remember that hydrogen peroxide is light sensitive so its effectiveness will fade the longer it’s exposed to light. This recipe can be doubled.
  • Need a quick stain remover for a small area? Treat stains with my homemade stain remover. Need to treat a larger stain? Recently Dustin spilled red wine all over our white IKEA slipcover couch and didn’t realize it until several hours later (the glass had been pushed behind a throw pillow before spilling). I mixed together this solution and after a couple of hours, the wine completely was gone!
  • “Is this solution color-safe?” I don’t use this solution on delicate clothes. If you want to use this solution on colored fabric, I recommend testing a small area first before soaking the entire garment, especially if it’s a favorite shirt or pair of pants! I soak our black and white chevron print kitchen rug in this solution without any issue.

Homemade bleach alternative: natural whitening solution. Your clothes and lungs will thank you!

 More DIYs You May Like:

DIY Homemade Stain Remover Spray

DIY Homemade Stain Remover


Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

DIY homemade liquid hand soap

DIY Homemade Liquid Hand Soap


  1. 5 stars
    Kristin, I just wanna thank you from the bottom of my heart. You saved me bookoos of dollars on this one. Here I was buying up oxiclean whitening pods, chlorine free bleach, resolve stain remover, etc., and you had the secret weapon the whole time. I make my own laundry detergent also, but could never find anything that would truly whiten my whites. It was like fate that I would run across your site as today was wash day and my used-to-be beautiful white mattress protector needed some serious tlc. It had a huge blue stain on it, which I’m not even sure how it got there. But anyway, I let it soak in the bathtub, filling the water about halfway before adding the washing soda and peroxide. I swished the water around for about 2 to 3 minutes and let it sit. It’s been over an hour and the stain is practically gone now. I’m gonna let it soak for another hr before I wash it so I can get that super duper whitening effect :))

  2. 5 stars
    This solution will last a lot longer if you store the leftover portion in the empty hydrogen peroxide container which is dark brown and protects the solution from any light source.

    1. Hey Fred, Thanks for sharing. I recommend just making a batch at time when you actually need the solution for soarking and storing the actual hydrogen peroxide in its original bottle. It’s meant to be a one-time use solution.

  3. Hi Kristin, I also have white IKEA slipcovered couches…what do you soak something that big in? A 5 gallon bucket won’t do the trick, and I have a front loading washing machine, so it’s not like I can fill the washing tub…any advice?

    1. Hmmm, Melissa, that’s tricky. We have a top loader so I typically soak our slipcovers in there. Maybe the bathtub? If you’re doing all the slipcovers, you’ll probably need to increase the recipe (since you’ll be using more water).

  4. ‘Recently Dustin spilled red wine all over our white IKEA slipcover couch and didn’t realize it until several hours later (the glass had been pushed behind a throw pillow before spilling).’
    hahaha… what was going on? lol. Thanks for the recipe as always Kristin. I’m keen to test it out.

  5. I had thought about adding a bottle of peroxide to my homade liquid laundry soap but you say it will degenerate quickly? What could I add to my detergent besides oxyclean, that will help whiten and remove stubborn grease?

    1. Hey Kathe, Yes, hydrogen peroxide will quickly degrade, so unfortunately there’s not a product that may be added to the laundry soap. You could add the hydrogen to a Downey ball.

  6. Hi Kristin!

    I know this may seem like a silly question, but once you are finished with the solution do you just pour it down a sink? I just wanted to see what you did since I am not sure if the washing soda/hydrogen peroxide combo could affect anything. Thank you!

    1. Hey Bethany, Yep, you’re correct. There’s a little note about it at the top of the post. I’ve found that it works about the same as the lemon juice mixture, but it’s a lot easier than blending the lemon juice in the blender.

  7. 5 stars
    I made this bleach alternative today and am hooked! I didn’t have a bucket, so I used a cooler. I soaked the clothes for an hour and when I put the clothes in the washer the soaking water was still hot because of the cooler! Love how bright my whites are!!!!

  8. Hi! I love your site. I’m wondering if I could premix this and strain it so I can just add it my washing machine. Would the mixture stay stable even if I added the peroxide and stored it? Thanks!

    1. Hey Leah, I’m so glad you’re enjoying Live Simply! I don’t think this solution will work as a pre-mix. You may be able to use the method you mentioned, then dehydrate the solution? My concern would be the change in chemical structure. I’ve also found hydrogen peroxide and washing soda tend to form a hard crystal substance when they are mixed together and stored for 24+ hours. It’s worth experimenting–let me know how it goes!

  9. About how much water would you say you mix this with? I tried it, but think I might have diluted it to much. Thanks. 🙂

  10. Hi! Thanks for sharing. My hubby insists on cleaning the bathrooms with bleach ugh! Would this recipe work in a spray bottle if substitued with lemon essential oils?


    1. Hey Jackie,

      Sounds like Kristin (me) ;). Well, the former Kristin.

      I’m not sure if this will work in a spray bottle. I think the washing soda may clog the spray nozzle if it’s not dissolved in hot water first–maybe you could dissolve this ingredient in hot water and then add hydrogen and lemon essential oil?

      Hydrogen peroxide is a great disinfectant!

    1. Hi Donna, In the weekly email you’ll find a link at the bottom that says, “unsubscribe.” Simply click that link and our email service will unsubscribe you from the weekly email list.

  11. Kristen – I have looked for years for cleaning products/recipes that would do the job – with no luck of course – until I found your recipes on Pinterest. I am so very thankful for your efforts – no more Tilex on the tub, no more bleach, no more toxic anything. Scrubbing the tub was my biggest challenge – with tendonitis. Now, piece of cake!

    I have fabric shower curtains in my place but while I wash weekly & use an extra fan to dry the bathroom, there is one corner of the shower curtain that still gets moldy (we pull back the decorative curtain & hang one corner of the liner up so the air can circulate better). But with all that effort, I still get mold. I tried soaking that corner in 3% standard peroxide but the stain is still there. I guess I could soak that corner in bleach for 5 minutes but I’d rather not. Thoughts? Oh, I do have some stronger peroxide in the cabinet (40%) but have been a little nervous to try it.

    1. Hey Carolyn,

      Thank you so much for sharing! I’m so blessed to hear you’re enjoying the recipes! I wonder if soaking the curtains in vinegar, or spraying them with a vinegar/water solution, and then soaking them in this solution would work? I’m thinking the vinegar will kill the mold and the whitening solution will give them a bit of a whitening boost.

  12. I too want to completely give up on bleach. I only use it as a laundry additive to clean the towels and sheets. Since this is a soaking alternative, I’m not sure I could add it to the he washing machine I have and get the same results. What do you think?

    1. Hey Lura, My concern with the washing machine is the lemon pulp will clog the little holes in the washer. I’m going to post a laundry booster (like a homemade OxiClean) later this week. I add this booster directly to the washer with my towels: 1/2 cup hydrogen and 1/2 cup washing soda. You can also soak the clothes in this solution in the washing machine. Another idea is to peel the lemons and strain the juice and then add it to the washing machine with the remaining ingredients.

  13. It’s the same story at my home, pretty stubborn (finger pointing at myself.) My husband is right about a few things now and then that I have to figure out for myself too. Though it’s not as often as he might think ;). At least we can admit we were wrong once we figure it out right?

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