Image for article titled Can Lemons Really Make Your Whites Whiter?

Photo: By Arturs Budkevics (Shutterstock)

There are endless hacks on how to keep your white clothes clean without harsh chemicals. A few suggestions This includes baking soda, vinegar and even aspirin – which of course we hardly mind getting creative. One option, however, is to cook your whites with lemons, and while citric acid is really a great way to clean a lot of things, it’s just not a worthwhile hack to your clothes.

Do lemons make your clothes whiter?

Here’s how it’s supposed to work: The citric acid in lemons breaks down stains and dirt and makes your whites whiter. Many budget sites suggest with lemons as a natural bleach for people who are averse to strong chemicals. And bleach is definitely harsh.

Melanie Forti, Director of Health and Safety Programs at Association of Agricultural Workers Opportunity Programs, explains that bleach can cause “rash, extreme headache, migraines, muscle weakness, abdominal discomfort, perforation of the esophagus, nausea and vomiting”. Prolonged inhalation or skin exposure clearly sucks, and then there is this annoying risk of “death” if accidentally ingested. Fine.

Plus, bleach can ruin some of your favorite graphic t-shirts, and that’s unforgivable.

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However, boiling lemons do not whiten any better than detergent

I tested this “lemon lightening” and you can too if you want: you need a lemon, a large saucepan, water and detergent. First fill a large saucepan with water, then take your lemon, cut it in half and add it to the saucepan. Bring the water and lemon to a boil. Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat and let it sit until the boil has settled down. Next, add your clothes and let them rest for an hour.

I decided to test this on a dingy tea towel. After leaving it in the pot for an hour, I hand washed the rag in a sink full of water and dish soap. And did it get clean? Definitely, but no more than if I threw a similar dishcloth in a normal machine wash with only detergent.

In the end, lemons can’t hurt, but it’s not a godsend for your laundry room either. But do you know what is it? Laundry detergent. Stick with it and you can keep your lemons for your kitchen.