How to get sparkling clean socks without bleach

Dirty and white socks
-Credit: (Image: Getty)

White socks are a classic and versatile addition to any wardrobe, but keeping them spotless is notoriously difficult due to their tendency to attract dirt, stains, and yellowing. They show up dirt and stains more than coloured socks, with factors such as foot sweat, shoe friction, and contact with various surfaces leading to rapid discolouration.

Moreover, the bright white of the socks can fade over time with regular washing. To tackle the challenge of whitening socks and removing stubborn stains without resorting to bleach, a cleaning expert and director at Daily Poppins has revealed a natural solution.

The expert recommended using lemon juice, which Nigel says possesses "powerful stain removal properties" that are effective in laundry care, reports the Express. He detailed: "This is because the acid found in lemon is antibacterial, antiseptic and acts as a natural bleach."

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To use this method, immerse your stained socks in a bowl of warm water mixed with the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon for about two to three hours. Then, transfer them to the washing machine for a standard cycle to achieve "sparkling clean socks". Lemon juice not only helps to whiten the fabric but also serves as a natural fabric softener.

This benefit arises from the citric acid in lemon juice, which dissolves the residue left by detergents or soaps. While white vinegar or baking soda can also be used for cleaning socks, these alternatives typically require more time to be effective.

For the vinegar method, begin by boiling a litre of water, mix in 250ml of white vinegar, and then let the mixture soak overnight. The following day, run them through a standard spin cycle to eliminate any lingering vinegar odour, and they'll be ready to wear. For those opting for the baking soda approach, immerse your socks in a basin of warm water with a dash of baking soda for a few hours.

After wringing them out, place them in the washing machine, adding 150 to 200ml of baking soda into the detergent compartment, along with your usual washing powder or liquid. Nigel also suggested an alternative using a common kitchen staple - dish soap.

Begin by filling the sink with warm water and stirring in a liberal squirt of dish soap. Let the socks soak overnight, then launder as usual the next day. Since dish soap lacks softening qualities, it's recommended to include a cup of white vinegar in the wash to "help keep socks soft and fluffy".