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What's the best way to get socks white if I don't use bleach?

Posted by myclementine (My Page) on
Mon, Jun 18, 07 at 13:57

I refuse to use bleach in my front loader and I am still searching for something to keep whites white.
I would love your suggestions!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: What's the best way to get socks white if I don't use bleach?

higher temps, longer dwell, Oxy-clean or similar additive.

I use "whitest whites" cycle on my Duet which gives 127F. I use TideHE powder and oxyclean. Soft water. Excellent consistent results with my white cottons. Suspect "sanitary" cycle (155F) may be better still but with the results I get with lower temp, I see no need.

RE: What's the best way to get socks white if I don't use bleach?

Do you use regular Tide HE?
And what amounts do you use?
I have an LG if htat matters.

RE: What's the best way to get socks white if I don't use bleach?

Regular TideHE powder.

I use 1/3 cup for a full load plus about a tablespoon of Oxyclean for the good results described.

My Duet is 9400 model...3.8cf mfg. nominal capacity...believe similar to your LG. I do have soft water which makes a difference in the amount of product I use. Without the softener, my tap water is 7 grains hard and I would double the amounts used.

RE: What's the best way to get socks white if I don't use bleach?

Tide HE with Bleach liquid
Clorox 2 liquid

RE: What's the best way to get socks white if I don't use bleach?

Part of the sock-cleaning problem is a wearer issue, and also in the nature of the garment, which usually includes some elastic component.

I do almost all my household cleaning with a wide range of cleaning cloths instead of paper towels, sponges, disposable mops, etc. This generates a fair amount of very dirty textiles. To clean them I use very hot water (190+F), ordinary powdered detergent, a jot of STPP and occasionally some borax if they need de-stinking, as well. I run them through a pre-rinse, pre-wash and long, intense, profile wash cycle. It runs a little over two hours in all.

This regimen can take white cotton cloths from nearly black to white, over and over again, without damage.

However it would be inappropriate for socks because it would degrade any elastic component in the first few washes.

The other side of the equation is why are socks getting as dirty as my floor and wall scrubbing clothes? If this is an inescapable fact of life, and you need to get the socks white, why not give them a short soak in a bucket in a mix of chlorox or non-chlorine bleach before putting them in the machine? BTW, I occasionally do use Clorox in my FL, and have for many year with no damage to my FLs. I just avoid it for environmental, and potential fabric damage reasons.


RE: What's the best way to get socks white if I don't use bleach?

What is STPP?

RE: What's the best way to get socks white if I don't use bleach?

My son is a golfer, not a great golfer but he enjoys golfing so that is where the dirt comes from. Soaking is a great idea. Thanks.

I used to use STPP even though I didn't know what it was but I had to have it shipped and that was expensive so I didn't reorder.

Thanks for the ideas.

RE: What's the best way to get socks white if I don't use bleach?

STPP is sodium tripolyphosphate; it's a purer form of the "phosphates" that were removed from detergents and other cleaning products some years ago in order to reduce chances of eutrophication problems in streams, rivers and lakes.

Eutrophication occurs when two ingredients are in excess supply in water (nitrogen and phosphorus) and result in an overgrowth of green algae which damages the water body and animals living in it.

Nitrogen is the more common excess element and comes mostly from fertilizer run-off (both agricultural, and to a surprisingly large degree from lawns) and from human and animal wastes getting into waterstream. It is hard, both in practical sense and in a political sense since it would require expensive modifications to current sewage treatment and agricultural practices, to reduce the nitrogen load enough to make a big difference in preventing eutrophication.

Since the eutrophication process also needs a certain amount of excess phosphorus, it was deemed easier to reduce phosphates introduced by cleaning products (primarily from laundry and dishwashing) into the waste stream. Hence most US states and Western Europe enacted phosphate bans.

But not all states did that, and in many states, even those with bans, it is only illegal to sell the phosphates for home laundry, not to buy, possess or use them. So some people elect to use small quantities in their laundry. I have a private sewage system, and live on a large property where I can (and do) control the amount of nitrogen that enters my soil, so for me the improved cleaning is an acceptable trade-off. And I use an extremely minimal amount, certainly less elemental phosphorus goes down my washing machine drains every year than I put on my extensive gardens. (Yes, I have done the math on that and my college training was in plant science so I'm confident of my figures.)

For those who use public sewage systems, the phosphorus is generally removed when it is treated, before waste water is discharged. Excess phosphates does drive up the cost of sewage treatment, which of course is paid for by the taxpayers.

Many people buy STPP online from stores like the Chemistry Store, though there are other sources in some areas. One needs only a very small amount (I use what I can pinch between two fingers, or about 1 teaspoon per load, and only for a fraction of the loads I do.) A little goes a long way and in small quantities the shipping minimum is often more than the product.

It does an excellent job getting whites whiter, particularly at the higher end of temps in the wash liquor. It is less effective if you use cool, or warm water, and so would be an environmental cost with little benefit under those circumstances.

Choosing to use it is something one should be especially thoughtful about, so I am not making a blanket recommendation to add it to your washing regimen.


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