Dear Mary: How can I whiten my whites? I have well water, and I use homemade laundry detergent. But my whites — especially my white uniforms — are graying. I use white vinegar in the rinse. I can’t soak them in bleach or use the Cascade formula every time I wash. Any ideas?
Dear Dotti: Dingy-gray coloring is usually a sign that too much detergent is not completely getting rinsed away in the rinse cycle. If your well water is especially hard, that could also be contributing to this problem. White vinegar doesn’t necessarily help to whiten clothes. We use it in the rinse cycle to help release all of the detergent.
Here’s a frugal fix for your problem: Add 1/2 cup of Borax to each wash load. This will boost the cleaning power of your laundry detergent. (Your homemade version does contain Borax but a very small amount, which in a usual situation is sufficient.)
Borax contains a natural mineral, sodium tetraborate, which has been mined and used for thousands of years.
Borax is safe to mix with chlorine bleach and detergents, and has been proven to enhance their cleaning power.
Borax whitens your whites because it converts some of the water molecules to hydrogen peroxide, which is a whitening agent. This enhances the action of bleach, whether you add it separately or it’s already present in your laundry detergent. If you don’t like to use bleach, Borax is still a good whitener on its own.
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