Whiten badly stained socks without bleach as cleaning expert shares 'powerful' tip

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


White socks are a wardrobe essential, but they can be notoriously difficult to keep clean.

Socks don't stay pristine white for long, often picking up dirt, stains, and yellowing more easily than coloured socks. The culprits behind their rapid soiling include foot sweat, shoe friction, and exposure to various surfaces, not to mention the dulling effect of frequent washing.

To tackle this issue, a cleaning expert and director of Daily Poppins has revealed how to get your white socks looking bright again without resorting to bleach. One of the top tips is using lemon juice, which Nigel says boasts "powerful stain removal properties" that are effective in laundry care.

He notes: "This is because the acid found in lemon is antibacterial, antiseptic and acts as a natural bleach."

To use this method, soak the stained socks in warm water mixed with the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon for about two to three hours, then wash them in the machine on a regular cycle for "sparkling clean socks". Lemon juice not only whitens but also softens fabrics, thanks to citric acid breaking down any detergent or soap residue.

While white vinegar or baking soda can also be used, these alternatives may require more time to achieve results, reports the Express.

Woman washing dirty white socks by hand.
White socks can become covered in unsightly stains over time -Credit:Getty Images/iStockphoto

For the vinegar method, use a litre of boiled water, add 250ml of white vinegar and then leave to soak overnight.

In the morning, simply put them through a normal spin cycle to eradicate any lingering vinegar smell, leaving them fresh and ready to wear.

If you prefer the baking soda approach, place the socks in a sink filled with warm water and sprinkle over a generous amount of baking soda, allowing them to soak for several hours.

After wringing them dry, proceed to wash them in the washing machine, adding 150 to 200ml of baking soda into the detergent drawer along with your regular laundry detergent.

Alternatively, according to Nigel, you can utilise another commonly found household item - washing-up liquid.

To employ this tactic, begin by filling up the sink with warm water and stirring in a significant quantity of washing-up liquid. Allow them to soak overnight and then launder them as usual.

However, since washing-up liquid doesn't contain any fabric-softening agents, it's recommended to add a cupful of white vinegar to "help keep socks soft and fluffy".

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