4 OxiClean Alternatives That Work Just as Well

updated Mar 18, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

When you need a laundry boost but don’t want to use traditional chlorine bleach, you might reach for OxiClean: a color-safe chlorine-bleach alternative that removes pesky stains and brightens dull clothes.

But what happens if you don’t have it on hand? No worries — you’ve got options. According to laundry expert Patric Richardson, founder of the Minneapolis-based boutique Mona Williams, there are a number of alternatives for OxiClean. And the good news is, you may already have a few of them on hand.

Hydrogen peroxide

One of the simplest, most cost-effective alternatives to oxygen bleach, Richardson says, is hydrogen peroxide. Why? Time for a little science lesson. OxiClean contains several ingredients, but the important one for boosting and brightening laundry is sodium percarbonate — basically, dry hydrogen peroxide plus washing soda (also called sodium carbonate, which is very similar to but not exactly baking soda). 

Like OxiClean, hydrogen peroxide is a miracle cure for many stains, especially organic ones, like blood, sweat, bodily fluids, and wine. You can use any hydrogen peroxide, even the common three-percent dilution you’d buy from a drug store, directly on a fresh stain; Richardson recommends pouring just enough to cover the affected area. “You’ll know immediately whether it’s going to work because you’ll see the stain fade,” he says.

You can also use hydrogen peroxide as a boost in a regular load of laundry, but to get the most out of it, you’ll need it in a less-diluted form, since running the washing machine will add even more water to your mix. “Store-bought hydrogen peroxide is diluted to three percent, so it’s basically water,” Richardson says. “The best way to use it for laundry is in its concentrated form.” 

The highest concentration you can buy in the U.S. is 30 to 35 percent, which you may be able to find in industry-supply stores (for science laboratories, restaurants, or hair salons) locally or online.

Hydrogen peroxide and washing soda

Sodium percarbonate includes a hydrogen peroxide component, but that’s not all it is. If you want to be precise and make something the most chemically similar to OxiClean, you would mix hydrogen peroxide with washing soda. You can throw it in the laundry to remove organic stains or brighten a load, the same way you would OxiClean.

The best way to use it as a soak is to mix it with warm, bath temperature water (Richardson says this temperature helps the mixture dissolve faster). But there’s one important caveat: If you make your own OxiClean and mix it with water, you need to add the laundry to the soak right away because once the homemade mix touches water, Richardson says, it off-gases oxygen and loses its effectiveness.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Store-bought oxygen bleach

If you don’t have OxiClean on hand and you don’t feel like DIYing your own sodium percarbonate solution, you can easily find alternatives online and in stores. Richardson recommends The Laundress’ All-Purpose Bleach Alternative, which you can use as a pre-soak or as a laundry boost in a normal load (just follow product instructions). Other options include Nellie’s Oxygen Brightener Powder or Branch Basics’ Oxygen Boost, which you can find in the brand’s laundry starter kit

Pure sodium percarbonate

Your best bet, though, is to buy pure sodium percarbonate (which you can easily find on Amazon for less than $20). Not only does sodium percarbonate not contain any unnecessary additives as do some store-bought products; Richardson says it’s also much stronger than true OxiClean (which means you need less of it). “OxiClean is sodium percarbonate with other ingredients,” he says. “So a pure sodium percarbonate is going to achieve the same results.”

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 4 Alternatives That Work Just As Well as OxiClean