How to Get Stains out of White Jeans Without Bleach

Always wash white jeans with other light fabrics.
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White jeans are really versatile: you can style them nearly any time of year and they look awesome with anything from a dressy blouse to a casual t-shirt, pullover or hoodie. Although white denim is durable and easy to care for, stains show up like a neon sign and can be difficult to remove. Treat stains as soon as possible, because the longer the stain remains in the fabric, the harder it is to remove. A solution without bleach is best, because bleach weakens the fibers and can turn your white jeans an ugly shade of gray or yellow.

Soak the jeans in cold water for 15 to 20 minutes.

Blot the stain with a clean sponge dipped in liquid laundry detergent, then wash the jeans in warm water. Do not machine-dry the jeans if the stain is still visible.

Treat the stain with a laundry pretreatment spray, gel or stick if you can still see the stain. Let the product soak into the fabric for one minute, then rewash the jeans.

Soak the jeans in hot water and color-safe bleach if the stain is still present, mixing approximately 1 capful of the product with 2 gallons of hot water. Let the jeans soak for at least 30 minutes or overnight, then launder. The product, labeled as oxygenated or enzymatic bleach, is safe for white jeans because it contains no chlorine.

Dry the jeans using your usual method if the stain is gone. If the jeans are new, read the garment care tag to determine the appropriate method. Jeans commonly tolerate tumble-drying, but if the manufacturer recommends hang-drying, do that instead of popping them into the dryer.

Take the jeans to a professional dry cleaner if the stain is still visible. Explain what methods and products you have used to remove the stain.

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.