Homemade Bleach Alternative ~Non-Toxic and Frugal

White vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and water, homemade bleach alternative

I must make a confession. In our home, we’ve gone green in so many areas: water collection barrels, passive solar and solar collectors, in transition to organics in the pasture, raising some of our own food, safe household products…uh…well…hmmm, that is except for bleach.

You see, I didn’t think I could get my washload (especially dirty wash cloths and work clothes) really clean (like germ-free) without it. We all expect to produce a nice and fresh smelling, stain-free laundry. It is sad, but we have found that most of the big producers like P&G and Unilever are using harsh, toxic chemicals in order to meet our demands.

However, bleach is something that was traditionally used even when I was a girl in the 50s, so I overlooked it for some time. Most people know by now that it is a poison, but it is still in most homes. The side effects include eye, nose, throat, lung, and skin irritation, and it usually tops the list for household poisons.

(In case your mom didn’t tell you, it’s a very bad idea to mix bleach and ammonia. The gas that results from these two chemicals is such a strong poison; it was used in the past as a chemical warfare agent.)

So when I saw a simple recipe to make a bleach alternative on Andrea’s blog {Frugally Sustainable}, I decided to check it out. I want to share it with you, dear readers; now none of us have to make ourselves sick from using chlorine bleach.

Here is the recipe for Homemade Bleach Alternative:

- 1 ½ cup 3% hydrogen peroxide
- ½ cup white vinegar or lemon juice
- Pure water to fill a gallon jug
- 10 drops lemon or lemongrass essential oils (optional/omit if using lemon juice)

Simply pour hydrogen peroxide and vinegar into the gallon jug, then top it up with water. Cap and store. It is that simple.

Or to make 2 cups (does 2 loads) as a trial ( which is what I did). Use:

-2 cups water
-1 Tbsp. vinegar
-3 Tbsp. hydrogen peroxide

hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, peracetic acid, bleach alternative

Notes:

~Add just 1 cup of this alternative for softer and brighter clothing. No need to dilute.

~This bleach alternative is color-safe, and can be used to clean tubs, showers, toilet.

~It can be used as a pre-soak in a separate container for tough or ground in stains.

~you still may want to hang on to the bleach for stinky loads or when it smells ‘sour’.

If you have questions, a good place to start is on Andrea’s comments as there was quite a lot of discussion there. I just did my first white and dark load and loved the results. This has really got me excited, but do your own research!

Andrea noted that “In their purest and most concentrated forms, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide form a compound called Peracetic acid. Known for it’s santitizing properties, I consider it still an excellent alternative to bleach. However, there is conflicting research regarding it’s use. This recipe utilizes a very diluted form of Peracetic acid and our family has used it without harmful effects. Research this, learn and determine what is best for you and your family. A nice alternative to this alternative (smile) is to substitue lemon juice for the vinegar.” 

Wikipedia on peracetic acid. See ‘Uses’, then ‘Application’ for especially fascinating info.

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~ Jacqueline

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16 Responses to Homemade Bleach Alternative ~Non-Toxic and Frugal

  1. Cari Leigh says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Over the years I have been replacing chemical cleaning products with vinegar and Mrs. Meyers cleaners but didn’t know what to do about my laundry. I will be giving this a try. Thank you.

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  3. LindaG says:

    I’ve bookmarked it. I had already noticed, by accident, that with vinegar I don’t need the dryer fabric sheets. I will definitely be giving this a try. :o)

  4. Thank You for this~I’ll be making it soon. I can’t wait to get rid of bleach; so excited for a safe alternative!

  5. Natalie says:

    I have heard that in diluted form, paracetic acid is rather unstable & will lose potency over time, so keeping the ingredients on hand and mixing it up as needed is probably the best solution. :)

    Also, I’m sorry, but I will be sticking to my bleach in one instance. I have switched to using more vinegar or just good plain ol’ hot water to clean things, but when laundry goes sour, nothing, and I mean NOTHING works like real bleach. I only use 1/8 c. mixed in a gallon of warm water which is then poured into the washing machine after it’s begun agitating (doing it that way keeps the bleach from messing with dark clothes!). We recently had a period of rainy weather when I was unable to hang out my laundry for about three days. This means it sat in the washer all that time, getting stinky and mildewy. I washed that darned load multiple times—with vinegar, vinegar & peroxide, baking soda, and just about anything else I could think of. I have no doubt that the clothes were clean, but they certainly weren’t fresh-smelling. And nothing but bleach could fix that. Just sayin’.

    • Jacqueline says:

      I agree, Natalie :) I will keep also bleach on hand for those really stinky loads or where it smells (I like your word) ‘sour’. No use not having the best of both worlds; I just don’t want to use bleach all the time.

      And yes, peracetic acid is slightly unstable, and it gets slightly weaker through time. I suppose if you do a lot of loads in a week it would be easier to mix a gallon, but if not , maybe just 2 or 4 cups for 2 or 4 loads. Thanks for your thoughts!

  6. Jacqueline…I make my own fabric softener and love it so I look forward to giving this a whirl. Thank you for the recipe and information friend.

  7. Angela Goodson says:

    You mention that we might like to keep bleach around for when things go sour, but you’ve already got what you need! I had an entire load of towels sour and after washing a couple MORE times and being a little more diligent of when to take them out they STILL smelled sour. So I set the washer to heavy duty and hot water, poured one cup of vinegar into the bleach dispenser (no soap, no fabric softener) and turned the washer on. After they were finished, I re-washed them again, this time with detergent; no vinegar, no fabric softener. The towels smelled CLEAN and they were soft even though I hadn’t used fabric softener. Vinegar is AMAZING. I buy it in bulk at the local wholesale club. I accidentally discovered its bleaching properties when one of the boys spilled it on the concrete floor in the basement and it produced a much lighter streak than the rest of the concrete (though the smell wasn’t great for a couple of days, lol). Great post; thank you!!!

    • Jacqueline says:

      Angela,
      I am so glad to know that! We haven’t use a softener for years for chemical sensitivity reasons; it would be nice to make things feel softer.
      Next time I have a smelly load, I will resort to vinegar!! Thanks for the tip!

  8. Jaime says:

    I have been trying to add myself to your mailing list with NO success.

    Please add me thanks.

    Jaime

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  10. Cathy says:

    Thank you for the recipe, I will try it today! I have been using lemon juice concentrate instead of bleach for a couple of months now and I love it! My whites are bright white again without the chemical smell! I am going to give this bleach alternative a shot.

  11. Tammy Miller says:

    I am trying this today in a load of whites. The smell is so amazing. I have been using bleach to clean my whites and now I can’t wait to see how this works. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jacqueline says:

      Tammy,
      Many really like it and have been very pleased, but a few (like me before) haven’t felt good about it since they can’t measure the germ killing ability. For me it was a trust issue…I had been told for so long that bleach was the only way!
      Would you let me know your findings?? Thanks so much!

  12. Beverly Axen says:

    I believe the reason peracetic acid loses its potency over time is that it is stored in an opaque container. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) must be stored in the dark brown plastic bottles or the light will cause it to become plain water (H2O). I suggest making up a small batch to use and then just use that amount when it’s still fresh. I’m sure using this is much better on septic systems than bleach.

  13. JES says:

    Hi Jacqueline, thanks for linking up last week! I only have 2 more to go :) This week we are sharing Laundry Room Recipes and Housecleaner Recipes if you have a moment to share. Hope you have a wonderful week! and thank you for sharing that disturbing news about the light bulbs! We haven’t used them for awhile because I really don’t like the look of them (shallow huh!) but this will keep us from them in the future!

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