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How to Bleach Linen Fabric White


How to bleach linen fabric white

While we don't generally recommend bleaching linen fabric or garments, there might be a time when your white linens need a refresh. Bleach should never be used on dark linens as it will remove all the coloured dye and you'll be left with a white patch. But perhaps your favourite white vintage linens are slightly yellowing, or one of your cherished white linen napkins has a stain you can't remove through washing or using a stain remover.

There are several ways to whiten or bleach linen fabric, but they are never completely risk-free. It's always a good idea to test a small, hidden area of the fabric first.

method of bleaching linen fabric


Follow these tips to successfully bleach linen fabrics and restore your white linen laundry to its clean, bright glory, from natural options to using the chlorine bleaching process.

Before you resort to bleach, try a natural method:


Vinegar has been used for centuries as a natural way to clean and disinfect our homes. You can use it as a rinse to clean out your washing machine and dishwasher, mix it with baking soda for an effective cleaning paste, and even use it diluted as a hair rinse to boost your hair's natural shine. It's also great to use on your laundry too, and it will even soften up your linens and clothes.

To remove stains and restore white fabrics to their bright original tones, add 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar in the washing machine detergent compartment, and run on a normal cycle. This works really well on diapers or kitchen linens, and will soften your laundry without any chemical solutions. You can also add vinegar to the rinse cycle for a final spruce up.


how to bleach linen

Another thing to try is to use the power of natural sunshine to bleach your white garment or fabrics. Hang outside while still wet and let the sun do its thing.

Baking soda

You can also try soaking your linen clothes or fabrics in a solution of 1 cup of baking soda and four liters of water for a few hours, or even overnight. Wash as usual. This will also remove any doors lingering on your garments.

Lemon juice

If your linen garments can withstand hot water temperatures, try boiling them in a large stainless steel pan with lemon juice for a simple, natural, chemical-free bleaching process.


Dissolve five aspirin tablets in water in a large pot or bucket. Soak the linen sheets or fabrics in this solution for a couple of hours and then add the whole lot to a wash in your machine. If hand washing, rinse well and then wash with a gentle detergent. When washed, dry your garments as usual or hang outdoors to optimize the sunshine's bleaching properties.

bright white materials laundry


Whiten with hydrogen peroxide

You might have some hydrogen peroxide in your medicine cabinet. It also doubles as a great alternative to bleach if you have some white material or linen clothing that has turned yellow. Add one cup to your laundry detergent dispenser in your washing machine and run a normal wash cycle, with cold water or warm water as your linen item's care instructions recommend.

Using oxygen bleach

Another alternative to chlorine bleach is sodium percarbonate, or oxygen bleach. This is a white powder made from salt, chalk and water that will remove stains and whiten fabrics without causing any environmental damage. It's a great natural, non-toxic option if you care about not polluting our water and harming delicate eco-systems. Add 1-2 tablespoons to the washing drum in your machine. You can even use this on coloured linen fabrics as it won't damage the fibers or remove the dye color.


How to treat stains and yellowing in linens with chlorine bleach

bright white materials laundry

If the natural vinegar, baking soda, oxygen bleach or hydrogen peroxide methods haven't worked, or you want to go straight for a chemical solution, get yourself a bottle of chlorine bleach. As we said before, as well as tackling a stain this will remove any color from your linen fabric or clothing, so beware of using on darker or khaki items.

First, test a small area in a discreet part of the garment before treating the whole thing. To do this, make up a solution of one teaspoon of bleach with two of water. Take a pipette or cotton bud and dab onto the fabric. If the color of the fabric starts to change or to transfer onto the cotton bud, then using bleach on this garment is not recommended.

Read the instructions on the bleach carefully to avoid any harm to your skin or eyes while using – this kind of bleach is strong and highly toxic. Never mix chlorine bleach with oxygen bleach, or with ammonia as this can release dangerous fumes. Wear protective gloves when using bleach. If your white linen materials or clothing are good quality the fibers will be better able to withstand potential damage from the bleach. Thinner weaves or linen blends might wear even thinner. Once you're ready to start, follow this bleaching process:

  1. Run your wash on a hot water cycle (if your linen item's care instructions recommend only warm or cool water then reduce the temperature). Pause the wash cycle after 5-10 minutes. This will allow your detergent to start washing before the bleach is added.
  2. Dilute one cup of bleach with one liter of water, then add to the detergent dispenser.
  3. Re-start the wash.
  4. Once washed, remove the items carefully and check for damage. If the process hasn't achieved a bright enough effect, or there is still some yellowing, repeat this process until you get the desired result. You may also need to increase the water heat.

using bleach on linens


Most manufacturers advise against using chemical bleach on any linens, but if you feel you have no choice then use bleach as little as possible to minimise harm to the fabric fibers. There are plenty of alternative ways to tackle stains in your linen textiles, and we thoroughly recommend trying these first.

Read this article for more tips on how to clean linen, and go here for more natural home care ideas.

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I'm Inga and this is a space where I celebrate simple, slow living. It's a place to be curious and creative, to share ideas on how to live and work sustainably and mindfully. Being the creative force behind I also write about my love for linen and natural fabrics. Linenbeauty weaves inspiring stories of slow living with interior style features, travel and cookery tips and outfit ideas. Thanks so much for stopping by.