How to Get Stains Off of White Shirts Without Using Bleach

There's no beating old-fashioned liquid chlorine bleach for its whitening power, but it's not the only option for removing a stain from a white shirt. A number of potentially less damaging products act as stain removers both before and during the wash. Whether your stains are from sweat or spills, a little elbow grease is your best friend when it comes to removing them without bleach.

Remove tough laundry stains from whites without bleach. (Image: Andrew Olney/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Step 1

Wet the stain with water and pour a drop of liquid laundry detergent onto it. Scrub the detergent into the stain with a toothbrush and allow it to sit for 15 minutes before washing the shirt.

Step 2

Wet a toothbrush, dip it into a box of baking soda and scrub the stain with the paste. Allow the baking soda to work for 15 minutes before washing.

Step 3

Pour lemon juice or white vinegar directly onto coffee, tea or grass stains. Saturate the fabric around the stain and allow it to sit for 15 minutes before washing.

Step 4

Scrub yellowed sweat stains on armpits and necks with plain table salt. Make a paste with water, rub the salt into the stain with your fingertips and wait 15 minutes before washing. Salt also works well on red wine and blood stains.

Step 5

Add a scoop of powdered oxygen cleanser or 1 cup of white vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide or borax to the washing machine water.

Step 6

Line-dry white clothes in bright sunlight for extra bleaching power.

Things You'll Need

  • Laundry detergent

  • Toothbrush

  • Baking soda

  • White vinegar

  • Lemon juice

  • Salt

  • Hydrogen peroxide

  • Borax

  • Oxygen cleanser


Wash stained clothing in cold water, as hot water can set the stain. If the stain is still there after washing, do not put the shirt in the dryer. Repeat the stain removal process and wash again.

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