how to wash white clothes with baking soda

How to Wash White Clothes with Baking Soda in 4 Simple Ways

Think of how many times your pockets have run dry mid-month. The last thing you want is to spend on things you can forgo at such a time. Laundry detergent is such a thing, if you have an alternative product that you can use safely and reliably. Baking soda is one of the alternatives to vouch for. But first, you have to learn how to you wash white clothes with baking soda. 

How to Wash White Clothes with Baking Soda in 4 ways

Baking soda or bi-carbonate soda is a simple naturally occurring substance that you are likely to find in every home’s kitchen. If not for cooking, for other reasons especially cleaning. It is a versatile cleaner that also fits well with other home cleaning agents. When used for laundry, baking soda whitens, cleans, deodorizes and freshens clothes.

You can use baking soda on its own to wash white clothes or combine it with other home cleaning agents. Use baking soda alone by combining ½ cup of the powder with warm water in a wash basin for hand washing or by adding a ½ cup to your washer for a small load or one cup for a large load. Alternatively, use it along with cleaners such as laundry detergent, vinegar and bleach.  

Method #1: Using Baking Soda Alone

baking soda

 Baking soda alone works as a cleaning agent for whites, other clothes and a wide range of surfaces because of its mild alkaline properties.

It dissolves in water to form a solution that removes soiling from clothes. That said, how effectively this solution works might depend on the level of soiling as well as factors such as water temperature, stains and type of fabric.

An important tip to consider when using a baking soda and water solution to wash clothes is to sprinkle the powder directly on tuff stains. It has mild abrasive properties that can scrub dirty soiling gently from your clothes.

Machine Washing

Step 1: Pour ½ cup baking soda directly into your washer’s drum then add enough warm water. Add a full cup if washing a full load. Adding baking soda first then filling the drum with water allows the powder to dissolve in the water. The powder might not dissolve completely but the residue acts as a gentle abrasive.

Step 2: Load the washer with clothes and run the machine on a normal cycle.

Step 3: Rinse as normal then inspect the load for stains before transferring it into the dryer. In case you notice a stain, separate the stained garment from the load you place in the dryer because heat makes stains harder to remove. To clean the stain, sprinkle a pinch of baking soda on it and scrub gently with a soft brush with your hands Rinse well and finish up by throwing the piece of clothing in the dryer.

Hand Washing

Step 1: Begin by combining a ½ cup baking soda with water in a wash basin or bath tub. Use twice the amount of baking soda for a large load.

Step 2: Place your clothes in the solution and ensure that they are completely submerged.

Step 3: Let the clothes soak for 30 minutes then wash each piece of clothing at a time gently with your hands.

Step 4: Check specific points such as the armpits and collar for stains and heavy soiling. Sprinkle a pinch of baking soda in those areas and wash until the stains clear.

Step 5: Drain dirty water from the wash basin or tub and add clean water.

Step 6: Rinse the clothes thoroughly and use a clothesline to line dry them. Alternatively, throw them into the tumble dryer.

Method #2: Baking Soda and Chlorine Bleach

 Individually, chlorine bleach and baking soda have bleaching properties. That being the case, there is no harm adding a bit of baking soda to bleach to enhance its effectiveness.

As powerful as chlorine bleach is, sometimes it might take too long to whiten heavily soiled whites. Baking soda acts as a powerful booster, making the clothes appear whiter sooner and smell fresher.

Step 1: Combine the right amount of bleach with water as directed on the user bottle and add ¼ cup of baking soda (adjust the baking to ½ a cup if the load you intend to wash is large) to your washer. Next, place your whites in the drum and let them presoak for 1 hour.

Ideally soaking clothes is easier on a top loading machine. You can only soak a small load conveniently on a front loader, which means that you only need a ¼ cup baking soda.

Step 2: Rinse the soaked clothes to remove bleach then run them through a normal wash cycle with an additional ¼ cup baking soda.

Step 3: Rinse and dry as normal.

If handwashing, combine bleach, water and baking soda in a wash basin and presoak your clothes for 60 minutes. Drain the water, add warm water and ½ cup baking soda, then wash and dry your clothes as normal.

Method #3: How to Wash White Clothes with Baking Soda and Detergent

Baking soda boosts detergent the same way it boosts chlorine bleach. You can use it with powder or liquid detergent in the washer or in a wash basin.

The general procedure is to add laundry detergent in the detergent compartment of your washer and to add baking soda directly into the drum. Next, load your machine with clothes and turn on the normal cycle.

If handwashing, combine warm water, baking soda and laundry detergent in a wash basin or tub. Place your dirty laundry into the basin and wash as normal.

A Reddit user shares a more detailed method that she recommends for stained and yellowing whites.

Step 1: Begin by treating stains with a branded stains remover such as Oxiclean. However, you can skip this step if the stains on your clothes are mild or easy to remove with mere washing.

Step 2: Divide a cup of baking soda into two equal portions. Add the first portion to your washer’s laundry detergent compartment and place the second one directly in washer’s drum with your whites.

Step 3: Choose the warm water setting and run the load on a quick cycle. This should help loosen and clear some of the initial soiling.

Step 4: Inspect the garments for stains that need to be retreated and use the branded stain remover for the second time. Follow up by adding color-safe bleach to the drum and regular detergent such as Tide in the detergent compartment.

Step 5: Add white distilled vinegar into the fabric softener compartment.

Step 6: Run a normal wash cycle with the warm water setting and use extra rinse to ensure that the detergent rinses off completely from your clothes.

Step 7: Dry as normal in the tumble dryer or outdoors.

Method #4: Baking Soda and Vinegar

In addition to cleaning and deodorizing your clothes, a combination of baking soda and vinegar is good for softening new sheets that might appear stiff and starchy.

When using this method, do not combine baking soda and vinegar directly. While baking soda is a mild base, vinegar is a mild acid. When the two come together, they neutralize each other and lose the initial properties that you would need to whiten your whites.

Step 1: Inspect and treat your clothes for stains with a branded stain remover.

Step 2: Fill the fabric softener compartment of your washer with vinegar. The machine will discharge the vinegar at the right stage during the washing process.

Step 3: Transfer your dirty whites into the washer with a ¼ cup of baking soda. Add baking soda directly into the drum.

Step 4: Run the machine on a normal cycle with the warm water setting.

Step 5: Rinse the clothes and dry as normal.

If hand washing, begin by washing your garments with baking soda and add vinegar in the final rinsing water. You can let the clothes sit in the vinegar rinsing solution for five minutes before wringing out excess water to dry.

Alternatives for Baking Soda

 Baking soda is not the only safe and effective cleaning agent that you can use to wash your white clothes. There are several other agents, some of which are cheaper and more effective.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide has properties that are almost similar to those of oxygen bleach. As such, it finds common uses as a bleaching agent in the textile and paper industries. Its oxidizing power leads to the release of oxygen during washing, which causes the breakdown of a wide range of stains, thus making clothes appear whiter.

It also bleaches soiling leading to whitening and brightening effects on white clothes. For home application, use 3% hydrogen peroxide because it is safe and effective. You can soak your clothes for 10 minutes if they are heavily stained.

Hydrogen peroxide does not remove acid based stains because it is acidic in nature.

Super Washing Soda

Arm and Hammer tell you that super washing soda can serve all your household cleaning needs. Well, at least we can tell you that this statement is tried and true for laundry. For your white clothes, use it to pretreat stains, as well as for regular washing.

Arm and Hammer recommend that you use super washing soda paste to pretreat tough stains. Combine 1 tablespoon of washing soda with enough water to form a thick paste. Use a soft brush to apply the paste on the stain then launder the garment as usual.

You can also presoak your garments for 30 minutes in a solution of washing soda and water. Combine 2 tablespoons of washing soda with a gallon of water in a wash basin or tub then soak your clothes. Ensure they are completely submerged so that the solution can loosen dirt evenly.

To wash your white clothes with super washing soda, add a ½ cup of the powder to your washer’s drum. Next, fill the detergent compartment with your regular detergent and load the machine. Wash as normal. Use a cup of super washing soda for heavily soiled clothes or in the case of hard water.


Borax is another home cleaning agent that you can depend on to wash your white clothes. The naturally occurring substance has bleaching properties, but it also boosts the cleaning action of regular detergents.

Further, it improves the PH of water, which results to a softening effect. And as you might well know, soft water responds better to regular detergents as compared to hard water.

Wash your whites by adding a ½ cup of borax to your washers drum along with regular laundry detergent in the detergent’s compartment. Add enough water to the washer then load it with your laundry. Run the machine on the normal cycle.

To pre-soak stained clothes, combine a ½ cup of borax with warm water in a wash basin or in your machines drum. Place the clothes in the solution and ensure that they are completely submerged. Let them soak for at least 20 minutes before washing.


Rit whitens, brightens and revives white clothes. If your favorite white top or dress has yellow stains around the armpits, Rit is your perfect solution. If it is overall yellowed or dingily, it still comes highly recommended.

According to the Ritdye website, you need one packet of Rit White-Wash for a small to medium load of laundry and 2 packets for a large load. Boil water in a stainless steel pot to just below the boiling point and maintain the temperature.

Next, add the powder just above the water and 15 ml regular laundry detergent. Place your clothes inside and stir consistently for up-to 20 minutes. Drain the wash solution, rinse and dry as usual.

Caution: Remember to wear protective gear such as rubber gloves and a mask when working with this method. As an additional measure, avoid breathing the powder and carry out the procedure in a well ventilated place.

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