How to whiten gis and laundry without chlorine bleach

How to whiten gis and laundry without chlorine bleach

Reposted with permission of the author. Click here to view original post.

***Disclaimer: We always advise that you follow the gi manufacturer’s recommended cleaning methods before trying any listed below. Gis vary greatly and some of the methods used below may yield undesirable results. Also, a bright gi doesn’t mean a clean gi. Click here for tips on maintaining a healthy training environment and keeping your gear as germ free as possible.***

by Reuben Avila


Some people choose to not use chlorine bleach when washing their clothes as it can irritate your eyes, skin, and lungs.  Some greener folk worry about poisoning fish and insects  as well as the release of carcinogenic dioxins during production (what?).

I used bleach when washing my Jiu-Jitsu Gi when I was a white belt, and while I had the sexiest Gi at the academy, it didn’t last a year before someone ripped it when fighting for grips (or some such).  Jiu-Jitsu Gis can be expensive.  So, I had to find an alternate way of keeping my Jiu-Jitsu Gis from becoming gray, dingy, and gross since it would drive me nuts (OCD, animal style please).  This goes double for when I have to train while recovering from an illness.

If you happen to be part of the OCD community, fret not!  I have found numerous ways to keep your Gis white without using bleach AND they work on your regular white clothes too.  Just in case you ever start to worry about the fish.

So, without further adieu, this is what I do when I need to get my white gis as white and fresh as possible.

Things You Can Use to Wash Your White Jiu-Jitsu Gis:

  • White Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Dishwasher Detergent
  • Lemons
  • Sunlight
  • Washing Soda
  • Borax
  • Oxiclean


Vinegar whitens, freshens (yes, freshens), and softens fabrics.  Add 1 cup (and not a drop more!) along with your regular laundry detergent.  DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE VINEGARY SMELL!  It dissipates after it evaporates and the fabric is dry.  It can also be used with stains; spray a stained spot with 100% undiluted white vinegar before washing.

Baking Soda

Another awesome tool to whiten, freshen, and soften your fabrics.  Add 1/2 cup along with the other stuff.  For a stain, mix water and baking soda to make a paste and apply directly to the stain.  This helps deodorize like a mofo.

Hydrogen Peroxide (3%)

This is a non-chlorine bleach to help whiten your white gis.  Add 1/2 cup.

Dishwasher Detergent

Don’t buy this if you don’t already have some on hand, but this can actually be used to whiten your gis.  Just make sure it is chlorine-free or else we are defeating the purpose altogether, obviously.  1/4 cup will do.

Lemon Juice

This stuff doesn’t just give you those goldy locks of your dreams, it can also be used to super freshen as well as whiten your beautiful white gis.


I always hang my gis facing the sun.  The sun is another one of those things that naturally makes things white.  Just look at anyone’s older car with black rubber trim.  Yeah, not looking all that black anymore there buddy.  One added bonus is that hanging it out in the sun also has a way of making your gi less comfortable to grab.  It’s a wee bit harder to hold on to someone’s sand paper laced gi especially if they are trying to rip it from your kung-fu  judo jiu-jitsu grip.

Washing Soda

Two things about washing soda that are great: It has 2 sodium in its chemical formation so it’s very effective in softening water, and it’s very caustic so it’s great in removing grease and stains.  Perfect for washing after rolling with those unruly bloodying bully brown belts.


Borax has great cleaning power. That’s why the green hippie folk commonly use Borax in their homemade detergent recipes. Its PH is 9.5, pretty base and can remove stains. It also breaks down into hydrogen peroxide (main ingredient in OxiClean), which behaves like, well, OxiClean. Which brings us to…


To describe it in layman’s terms, it’s pretty much like Washing Soda mixed with Hydrogen Peroxide. Another commonality in homemade laundry detergent recipes call for Washing Soda + Borax (which turns some water molecules to Hydrogen Peroxide). When Hydrogen Peroxide meets water, it breaks down into Oxygen and Water, forming little bubbles (like your favorite carbonated drinks i.e. pepsi soda). Those little bubbles bleach and clean.

Note:I am not suggesting that you use all of these tools at once.  It can be incredibly cumbersome.  Although, maybe once or twice a year, you may want to do so to stay fresh to death.  I usually try to incorporate a bunch of these when I wash my white Gis and white clothes but only the ones that are convenient.  Just using a couple of these strategies keeps my gis looking nice and not smelling swampy.  

When it’s time to wash the stuff, I pick whatever methods I’ll be using for the day and I’ll soak the white Gis (or white clothes) for as long as possible in HOT water.  For those of you with your own washer, this is quite simple,  you can add your detergent and whatever else you will use then add your Gis and start the washing machine with hot water.  Let the wash cycle go for a few minutes, but stop it before it reaches the rinse cycle.  Then, soak it like it’s hot for as long as you can handle.

When you are ready to wash, bring the knob back to the beginning of the wash cycle and let it run all the way through.  Then, hang to dry outside in the sun, or by a window that gets direct sun light.

If you don’t have your own washing machine, do what I do; simply turn your shower tub into a soaking station.

  • Make sure the water won’t drain
  • Fill up the tub about an 1/8 full (this isn’t exact science just eye ball it) with hot water
  • Add all of your washing tools including your detergent
  • Swish the mixture around using the handle part of a broom, or what-have-you, until it’s dissolved,
  • Add your white jiu-jitsu gis or white clothes
  • Make sure there is enough water to barely cover all of the fabrics
  • Use the broom to agitate everything as if you were washing by hand
  • Soak for as long as you possibly can (a couple of hours is good, overnight is better)
  • Transfer to a washing machine and wash as normal

There you have it folks.  Use these methods to wash your white jiu-jitsu Gis or white clothes to a brilliantly white and super sexy look.  You will be all the rage and submit more people as they get blinded by the whiteness of your gis.

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