baking soda for whitening clothes

How to Use Baking Soda for Whitening Clothes

White clothes are smart, crisp, and they almost glow when they’re clean. But when these items are tormented by wear and tear, dirt, sweat, and the dreaded red wine spillage, they age and start to look more bin-bag worthy than wearable!

Greying white clothes aren’t exactly appealing. And while a lot of people choose to bleach their dulling clothes, there is actually a less chemical-ridden option to try out.

Baking soda (aka bicarbonate of soda) is an excellent alternative. And it just so happens that it’s safe to use, it has odour neutralising properties, as well as being able to whiten clothes.

So, how do you use baking soda to whiten clothes? Read on to find out exactly what you need to do!

How to Use Baking Soda to Whiten Clothes

baking soda and laundry

Baking soda is a cheap, non-toxic ingredient that can be used to whiten laundry. It’s also a kinder product to use around the house when cleaning, and is a great alternative to other chemical-based whitening goods.

What makes baking soda good for whitening clothes?

Baking soda is an alkali, and because it’s an alkali, it can break down tough dirt and stains that are troubling clothes. In doing so, it can get rid of these marks to make white laundry clean and bright again.

Find out how you use baking soda to whiten laundry below.

Always remember these points when whitening clothes with baking soda

Here are a few tips to help you on your journey:

  • Prepare your tools and workspace in advance, particularly if you’re using the pre-treatment method.
  • Don’t go overboard with the baking soda, remember you can add more as and when you need it.
  • Patch tests are essential, so don’t skip them!
  • You might have to repeat some methods more than once to get the finish you desire.
  • You may need to combine the methods below to get the extra crisp finish you’re after!

Using baking soda to whiten laundry

To whiten your clothes with bicarbonate of soda you can try out different options.

You can either pre-soak the white laundry in baking soda before washing it as usual, you can add baking soda to your washing machine to re-whiten your dulling items, or you can combine both of these methods!

Find out how you use baking soda to whiten clothes below.

Pre-treating clothes with baking soda to whiten them

soaking clothes in baking soda

Pre-treating laundry may sound like a time consuming and more messy job, but this kind of treatment usually yields great results. So, if your laundry does need some TLC, this is definitely a method to consider!

What you need:

  • Bucket
  • Four to five litres of warm water
  • Cup of baking soda
  • Timer
  • Washing machine/hand wash

Steps to follow:

  1. Fill a bucket with four-five litres of warm water.
  2. Add one cup of baking soda to the warm water.
  3. Mix the product into the water.
  4. Add the items you need whitening to the bucket of baking soda-water. 
  5. Leave the garments to rest submerged in the water for a minimum of eight hours/overnight. 
  6. Remove your items from the water after the eight-hour period/overnight. 
  7. Rinse the items off. 
  8. Pop the clothes in the washing machine/hand wash garments, and launder items as normal. 
  9. Dry clothes on an outdoor line, if possible, the sunlight will help to dry, freshen and bleach the clothes further. 

Using a washing machine to whiten clothes with baking soda

add bicarbonate of soda to clean new towels

Using baking soda in the washing machine to whiten laundry is usually the most convenient method to try out. It’s quite hassle free, you don’t need additional working space either, and a cycle ends fairly quickly too. 

Steps to follow: 

  1. Sprinkle half a cup of baking soda into your washing machine’s drum. 
  2. Add your dirty white laundry to the machine. 
  3. Add your detergent as normal. 
  4. Start a normal washing cycle. 
  5. Optional: Add another half a cup of baking soda to the washing machine during the rinse cycle. 
  6. Once the washing machine has finished you should dry your laundry on the line outside, if possible. 

Combining both methods to whiten clothes with baking soda

For an added kick of power, you could combine both methods listed above to whiten your greying laundry. 

Simply carry out the pre-treatment first and then move onto the washing machine phase. 

And as above, it would be better for your to line dry your washing outside, so they get exposed to as much sunlight as possible. 


Tips for Keeping White Clothes White

Tips for Keeping White Clothes White

Once you’ve revived your dulling white clothes, the last thing you want is for them to get back into their dulling condition. So, here are a few tips to limit this from happening: 


Can Baking Soda Ruin Clothes?

In general, baking soda is a safe, non-toxic ingredient that can be used to pre-treat and clean laundry.

However, if you are washing the following materials, wool, silk and cashmere, you should use baking soda in small doses.

The pH level of baking soda might be a little too high for these protein-based fabrics, and exposing these materials to bicarbonate of soda may cause their fibres to break down.

In addition to this, the baking soda might not clean off the material as nicely, so you may end up with some bicarbonate of soda residue on the clothes.

If you’re ever in doubt about using a particular ingredient on a specific material you should always do a patch test.

Baking soda is no exception to this rule – always make sure it’s suitable for the material you’re working with.


Can You Mix Baking Soda and Laundry Detergent?

laundry detergent and baking soda

Yes, you can mix baking soda with a laundry detergent. When the ingredients are mixed together they will give your clothes an extra thorough clean. 

Although, if you’re concerned about what effect this mixture will have on your dirty washing, you could perform a small patch test beforehand. 


Will Baking Soda Remove Stains? 

Yes, baking soda can be used to treat stains, as well as to whiten laundry.

Simply create a paste with your baking soda and spread it evenly over the stain you want to get rid of. Then leave the treatment to sit on the stain for a period of time, and finally, rinse the item of clothing clean.

Find out how to create a bicarbonate of soda paste for cleaning in our article.


Can You Mix Bleach and Baking Soda Together?

mixing bleach and bicarbonate of soda

Yes, you can safely mix bleach with baking soda. When mixed together, baking soda and bleach have a stronger cleaning power, can whiten clothes with ease, and because baking soda is an odour neutraliser, the stench of bleach can be masked by it too.

To test this method, fill a bucket with four litres of warm water, add half a cup of bleach to the water, and add half a cup of baking soda to the water. Then add your white items to the bucket, wait, then rinse and wash your laundry as normal.

Find out more about mixing bleach and bicarbonate of soda together in our dedicated article.


Is Bicarbonate of Soda the Same as Baking Soda?

Bicarbonate of soda

Yes, baking soda and bicarbonate of soda are the same thing. Bicarbonate of soda, bicarb for short, is the name we use here in the UK, and over in America they prefer to say baking soda. That might be changing though, as American terms are becoming more popular over here in the UK.

We used the term “baking soda” in this article as we found that more people were searching for information on whitening clothes using “baking soda” rather than “bicarbonate of soda”, so we wanted to make sure they would find our post!