How to Whiten, Brighten, Soften and Deodorize Laundry

Certain products are available to give your regular detergent a boost.
Certain products are available to give your regular detergent a boost. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

When you are doing a load of laundry, sometimes just adding laundry detergent is not enough. Laundry that is particularly dirty, smelly, dull or yellowing may take an extra additive to deodorize, brighten and whiten it. And of course, soft laundry is always desirable. Several laundry additives are available that work with your regular detergent, some of which you may already have around your home. Use these products to whiten, brighten, soften and deodorize your laundry.

Things You'll Need

  • Sodium bicarbonate
  • White distilled vinegar
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Hair conditioner
  • Lemon juice
  • Hydrogen peroxide

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Start your washing machine and add 1/2 cup of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to the water along with your regular detergent. Then add a load of laundry and wash it as usual. Baking soda acts to soften, deodorize and brighten laundry.

Pour 1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar into your washing machine during the last rinse cycle, then continue the wash cycle as usual. The vinegar smell disappears when clothing is dry. Vinegar acts as a fabric softener and prevents the dulling and yellowing of fabrics. Avoid using vinegar for laundry that contains any silk, acetate or rayon clothing, however.

Start your washer and add 3/4 cup chlorine bleach to your wash water with your regular detergent, then add your load of laundry. Use chlorine bleach for whites and bleachable colors only, as it will bleach out certain colored laundry. Avoid using this bleach on any clothing that has a tag reading “non-chlorine bleach only.”

Mix one part hair conditioner with one part water and keep it in a spray bottle. Dampen a clean washcloth with this spray and place it in your dryer with a wet load of clean laundry. The hair conditioner acts as a fabric softener.

Start your washing machine water, add one cup of lemon juice and your normal detergent, then add your laundry and wash as usual. Lemon juice acts as a natural laundry freshener and whitener. Use lemon juice on whites only, however, as it can bleach out certain colors.

Add one cup of hydrogen peroxide to the water in your washing machine, then add your detergent and laundry -- wash it as usual. Hydrogen peroxide works to whiten your white laundry. Don’t use this chemical on colors, as it may bleach them out.


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