Keeping your whites sparkling and bright is easy with a reliable laundry whitener. While some use chemicals, there are plenty of all-natural options to suit every need. “It’s best to use things that will keep whites bright rather than try to correct later,” says California housekeeper Anne Knowing, a cleaning expert with more than 10 years of experience. It’s also important to look for a laundry whitener that works with your machine and other laundry products. We researched the best laundry whiteners available, with our eye on effectiveness, safety, and ease of use.
Our top pick, OxiClean White Revive Laundry Whitener Stain Remover Powder, works on whites and colors, is safe for high-efficiency machines and septic systems, and gets rid of stains.
Here are the best laundry whiteners to add to your cleaning routine.
Best Overall: OxiClean White Revive Laundry Whitener + Stain Remover
Safe for septic systems and HE machines
Also available in pod and liquid form
Easy to use
Safe for colors
Smell can be strong
Presoak uses a lot of powder
OxiClean White Revive Laundry Whitener is our top pick because it’s so powerful, easy to use, and safe for you and your machine. This effective cleaner doesn’t use harsh bleach or chlorine to brighten whites and tackle stains. It comes in powder, pod, and liquid form, so you can choose your favorite application method—all have the same reliable formula. You can add a scoop to your regular wash cycle to brighten your whites. To make things super easy, this whitener is color-safe so you don’t need to worry about separating your clothing if you don’t want to.
You will need to presoak your fabrics to get the best results, especially against stubborn stains. Fortunately, the OxiClean White Revive powder is safe for both HE machines and septic systems. Simply get it set up in the machine drum, let your clothing soak for up to six hours, and then run the cycle like normal. With minimal work, you’ll get sparkling whites that are stain-free. Keep in mind that this soaking method goes through the product much more quickly than adding a scoop to your regular wash.
It is unscented but our product tester noted that it still had a strong scent. The smell was pleasant enough and was not a detractor, but if you are sensitive to odors or chemicals, this may be a problem for you.
Price at time of publish: $11
Best Budget: Clorox Splash-Less Bleach
Easy to measure
Safe for HE machines and septic systems
Can't use with colors
Can’t use on all fabrics
May create chemical reaction when combined with other cleaners
This affordable bleach cleaner is effective for your whites and your wallet. It is thicker than some other bleach formulas, which results in fewer spills and splashes as you pour. The cap doubles as a measuring cup so you know exactly how much to add to your laundry. Follow the steps to bleach your clothing safely to avoid damaging anything or mixing chemicals.
Keep in mind that this is bleach cleaner and shouldn’t be used with colors. It is also not safe for delicate fabrics, including wool, silk, mohair, leather, and spandex. To use, add it to your washing machine once you have started the cycle. (Some machines also have a specific spout for bleach.) This product can be used with standard or HE machines, and it is safe for septic systems. However, you should take care not to mix it with other household cleaning chemicals.
Price at time of publish: $23
Best Powder: Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
Doubles as stain remover
Doubles as appliance cleaner
Test on colors first
Not great for stains
This all-purpose laundry booster can be a powerhouse around your entire home. You can add Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda Detergent Booster to your washing machine’s normal detergent cycle to brighten whites and bring them back to life. It is made of only two ingredients—sodium carbonate and water—so it’s easy to keep track of what other products and materials it is safe to use on. Arm & Hammer recommends testing it on an inconspicuous area of your clothing first to make sure it won’t harm colors. Note that it shouldn’t be used on dry-clean-only fabrics.
On top of brightening your white clothing, you can also use this powder for other household cleaning. Just put a scoop in with your normal laundry to use this product as a stain remover. It isn’t the best option for tough stains but can work for ones that aren’t old or greasy. It also works for cleaning your appliances, getting the tarnish off silver, gold, and bronze, and cleaning greasy stains on cookware. With so many uses around the house, it is worth having on hand.
Price at time of publish: $8
Best Pods: OxiClean White Revive Laundry Whitener & Stain Remover Power Paks
Great for everyday use
Don’t need to worry about spills
Not great for treating stains
Our best overall laundry whitener also comes in powder pods, so naturally, it’s our pick for the best whitening pods. The OxiClean White Revive Laundry Whitener pods are a bit more expensive per use than the larger-quantity powder jug, but it’s hard to beat the convenience of simply throwing a pod into the laundry machine and getting bright white results. Since they are stored in a container, there is also less of a chance that they will make a mess from spilling.
Keep in mind that these can’t be used for pretreating stains or presoaking. They are effective at getting dingy whites bright again but aren’t the best option for treating stains. We recommend combining these pods with another stain-fighting treatment when needed. If you use these pods with every load of whites, you’ll be happy to see that your clothes come out sparkling and bright each time.
Price at time of publish: $11
Best Eco-Friendly: Molly's Suds Natural Oxygen Whitener
Safe for colors and whites
Scent from essential oils
Not great for tough stains
If you want to avoid harsh chemicals but still want fresh-looking white clothing, consider Molly’s Suds Natural Oxygen Whitener. This formula uses plant-based cleaners that are safe for whites, colors, kids, pets, and your entire home. You can add two scoops to each load for brightening power or let your clothing soak in the solution for up to two hours for extra cleaning. It includes a measuring scoop so you can make the most of the powder. That helps, since this is a bit pricier than some other powder options.
This isn’t the most powerful cleaner for really tough stains, such as grass stains, blood, or grease. It is best on clothing that just needs an extra brightening boost during its normal wash cycle. This powder is scented with lemon essential oil and safe for HE machines, septic systems, and those with chemical sensitivities.
Price at time of publish: $26
Best Non-Bleach: Grab Green Bleach Alternative Pods
Not as effective on stains
By using mineral cleaners rather than bleach, Grab Green Bleach Alternative pods brighten your laundry effectively during the normal wash cycle. They can also be used to treat some stains and get unpleasant odors out of your clothing, too.
In addition to being bleach-free, these pods are also fragrance- and dye-free. If you have chemical or odor sensitivities, these are some of the best laundry whiteners that you can get. They are a bit pricey but still a good value considering you only need to use one per wash cycle in most cases. If you are doing a large load of laundry or it needs some extra cleaning power, you can use more than one pod.
Note that these aren’t as effective as some chemical-based products, but they also don’t come with any harmful side effects. In addition to laundry use, you can use them to treat stains on upholstery and carpet, although Grab Green recommends testing in an inconspicuous area first.
Price at time of publish: $16
Best for Colors: Tide Brights and Whites Rescue Laundry Pacs
Safe for colors
Doesn’t work on dingy whites
Can’t pretreat stains
The name says it all for Tide Brights + Whites Rescue Pacs. These Tide pods are like super-charged detergent packs. If you've got clothing and linens that need a boost, these pods can bring them back to life. They do include a color-safe bleach and bleach activator, so make sure that you’re okay with these ingredients. In addition, they are safe for use on both bright colors and white linens.
Our product tester loved the convenience of these pods. Each pod can be thrown into the wash cycle without any extra steps or measuring. They aren’t used for pretreating or soaking, just alongside regular detergents. There is also a scent that our tester described as “powerful but pleasant,” so keep that in mind. Also, these pods aren’t the best at stain-fighting, but they can remove gentle stains and dirt.
Price at time of publish: $20
Best for Stains: Hate Stains Co. Miss Mouth’s Messy Eater Stain Treater
Works on a variety of stains
Safe for use on many surfaces
Requires application and wiping away excess residue
The Hate Stains Co. Miss Mouth’s Messy Eater Stain Treater is effective and easy to take with you wherever you go. To use, spray it on the stain and let it get to work. You will need to work it into the stain and wipe the excess away after a few minutes. For optimal effectiveness, launder your items quickly to get any extra dirt, food, or debris out. This product is marketed for parents facing stains like grass, food, ketchup, and spit-up, but works on a variety of other things as well.
In addition to using it on white laundry, you can also spray it on upholstery, carpet, and in the car. It’s not best for some fabrics, such as leather, so make sure that you try it out in a small space before spraying it all over the item in question. The 4-ounce spray bottle is small enough to take in a bag, although it is a bit pricey. For something even more convenient, consider the wipes that are made with the same formula.
Price at time of publish: $15
Best for Sensitive Skin: All OXI Laundry Booster for Sensitive Skin
Part of line for sensitive skin
Not great for stain removal
All is known for great laundry products that work for people with sensitive skin. Their powder laundry whitener uses oxi technology to brighten your clothes alongside your regular detergent without irritating sensitive skin. This product is part of their Free & Clear line that omits fragrances and dyes: The active ingredients are sodium carbonate and sodium carbonate peroxide.
This particular brightener is also free of chlorine. If you already know that All Free & Clear detergents and dryer sheets work for you, there’s a good chance that this laundry whitener will soon be a favorite in your household. It can be used in HE machines and is septic-safe. However, it may not be as effective at tackling tough stains as some other products.
Price at time of publish: $10
Best for Septic Systems: OUT White Brite Laundry Whitener
Works on red clay and rust
Requires separate measuring
Can’t use with all detergents
Can’t use on colors
If you’re struggling to get rust and iron stains out of your whites or colorfast fabrics, try OUT White Brite. It’s not only highly effective, but it is also safe for all types of water, washing machines, and septic systems. This whitener performs best on red clay stains, rust, and yellowing fabrics.
Keep in mind, this is a liquid whitener and is a bit harder to use than scoopable powders or pods. You will also need a separate measuring cup to measure out the half-cup size needed. You can use this whitener as a presoak treatment or with your wash, but it is important not to use it with an oxi-based detergent or treatment as the chemicals can have a dangerous interaction. It’s also not safe for colors.
Price at time of publish: $24
Our top pick is OxiClean White Revive Laundry Whitener Powder for its versatile use and stain-fighting power when used as a presoak. It's also available in pod and liquid form. Clorox Splash-Less Bleach is our top budget pick: Just remember that this is a bleach product and not safe for colors or all fabrics.
What to Look for in Laundry Whiteners
Laundry whiteners come in powder, pod, and liquid form. Ultimately, the type that’s right for you depends upon your preferred application method: scoop, toss, or pour. Pods are usually the easiest to use because all you need to do is toss a pre-measured pack into the machine. Whitening powder can be the least expensive but requires measured scooping. It can also be heavy if you buy in bulk. Liquids are familiar to most people because they replicate the same steps as using laundry detergent. However, these can also be the messiest if you spill or the container leaks.
Bleach and chlorine are two ingredients often used in laundry whiteners. While these are very effective, some people prefer to avoid them due to chemical sensitivities. If you want to use your whitener on colors, you should look for one that’s bleach-free. There are plenty of all-natural alternatives that use chemical-free or plant-based ingredients to break down dirt and substances that cause dinginess or stains. However, at this time, most are not as powerful as chemical-based cleaners.
While many laundry whiteners can work with your washing machine, there are a few situations where you should take extra caution. If you have a high-efficiency machine, make sure that the laundry whitener you choose is compatible. If it is safe to use on a high-efficiency washing machine, the bottle or packaging will often be labeled with HE on the front. Those with septic systems should also make sure that the laundry whitener is septic-safe. In addition to checking the label, make sure to carefully follow the directions when using.
Do laundry whiteners work?
Laundry whiteners are a great way to revitalize yellowed linens like sheets, towels, and shirts. They use a combination of chemicals and other ingredients to whiten and brighten laundered items, restoring them to the crisp whites they were before.
How can I whiten my clothes without bleach?
Bleach is just one way you can whiten your laundry—there are plenty of alternatives. Oxygen bleach is a gentler alternative to traditional chlorine bleach. Additionally, baking soda-based whiteners can be used, as can more natural, mineral-based whiteners.
“I always offer natural products when cleaning,” California-based housekeeper Anne Knowing says. “Some people have sensitivities and some just prefer the natural stuff. Nowadays, there are so many great options out there that you can find the ingredients that make you comfortable.”
How can I keep my sheets white?
Nothing makes a freshly made bed look sadder than yellowed sheets. To keep them looking crisp and white, use a laundry whitener every month to restore their brightness. Additionally, treat stains as soon as they happen, as they’ll be harder and harder to clean as they age.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was researched and written by Katie Begley, a freelance writer specializing in home and family products. Katie has been writing for The Spruce since 2019. She has used multiple whiteners from this list, and while she tends to prefer natural options, she uses chemical-based whiteners for stubborn stains on her kids’ clothing. Katie also interviewed Anne Knowing, a professional housekeeper with over 10 years of experience, for insight into effective whitening products and how to use them correctly.