Brighten Your Whites the 19th Century Way With Laundry Bluing

Laundry bluing is a historic hack that’ll bring your whites back to life in a few simple steps.

Published February 5, 2024
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Growing up in the infomercial heyday, I can still hear Billy Mays’ shouts of “Don’t just get it clean, get it OxiClean” in my head. While big bleach juggernauts like Clorox have cornered the market on getting whiter whites, there are other options available. Laundry bluing predates commercial liquid bleach and might be the gentler way to whiten your dingy whites that you’ve been looking for all this time.

What Is Laundry Bluing?

Much like tossing borax powder in your laundry was all the rage, adding some Mrs. Stewart’s Liquid Bluing was a standard part of your weekly washing in the 19th century. Released in July 1883, this family formula quickly became a household staple.

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Yet, Mrs. Stewart’s wasn’t the first bluing solution ever made. Anyone with access to the right materials could make their own bluing liquid. Dyers and artists were the best poised for this because liquid bluing is merely a mixture of water and the natural powder pigment Prussian blue.

How Does Laundry Bluing Work?

If your mind immediately went to some Bluey connection, you aren't the first. But bluing doesn’t involve teaching your laundry life lessons through an animated animal family. Instead, it takes basic color theory and applies it in real time.

Blue is the opposite of yellow on the color wheel, and this means that it cancels out yellow tones in your white textiles. Blue-white whites are extremely bright and can get dingey over time. Adding that blue tone back into the fabric will bring down the yellow and return it to a bright, reflective white.

Related: How to Remove Yellow Stains From White Clothes

Steps to Give Laundry Bluing a Try

Out of all the laundry hacks you can find on the internet, laundry bluing is the easiest. With a little bluing liquid and some water, you can bring your whites back to life.

@stephanieboothhome Mrs. Stewart’s Liquid Blueing needs to be in your laundry room if you want to keep your white fabrics their whitest. It’s also great for keeping denim nice and blue and your dark fabrics dark. It’s so inexpensive and will last you forever! You can find it in my Laundry Favorites list in my Amazon Storefront #laundrytok #laundryhack #howtodolaundry #lifeskill #laundryadvice Blue Blood - Heinz Kiessling


  • Laundry bluing liquid
  • 1-quart cold water


  1. Dilute a few drops of bluing liquid into a quart of cold water.
  2. Put a load of whites in your washing machine and start the cycle.
  3. Once the water fills up to at least halfway, open the lid and add the bluing liquid.
  4. Run the cycle until it’s complete.
  5. Repeat one or two more times if your whites aren’t to their desired brightness.
Need to Know

You can also use laundry bluing to darken your blue jeans. Add more drops of bluing liquid than you would for whites to your load of jeans, and it should deepen their blue shade. 

Why Choose Bluing Over Bleach?

Laundry bluing is just as successful as bleach at brightening your whites. But there are many reasons you might choose bluing instead of bleaching.

  • There’s no chance of degradation. Too much bleach in your washer, and your clothes could come out tattered and eaten. On the other hand, bluing can’t destroy your fabrics.
  • Bluing stains can be removed. Soaking blue-tinted clothes in a diluted ammonia bath will pull the pigment out.
  • It’s a safer product to have around the house. Having bluing liquid lying around doesn’t pose the same kind of danger to yourself and your family as bottles of bleach do.

New Doesn’t Always Mean Better

Sometimes, our ancestors really knew what was up. You can’t improve on everything — no matter what the high-tech wifi-connecting washing machines might tell you — and laundry bluing proves it. So, restore your whites the same way your great-great-great grandmother would’ve with a little bit of laundry bluing.

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Brighten Your Whites the 19th Century Way With Laundry Bluing