How to Whiten Bras That Turn Gray

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I used to wash my bras using underground water, and the adverse effects of mineral deposits caused a grayish hue on my relatively new bras. After extensive research on how to whiten bras that turn gray, I have found the following restoration chemicals and techniques work best.

How to Whiten Bras That Turn Gray

A gray tint can make bras look older and more worn than they actually are. Even worse, a grayish hue can give the impression that the bra is dirty or hasn’t been cleaned properly, even if that’s not the case.

A sports bra with some workout tools beside it placed on a white table

This impression used to lower my confidence, especially when the bra was visible under light clothing. If you are facing the same confidence issues due to graying bras, join me as I delve into various methods you can use to restore their initial white color.

Soak in White Vinegar

It’s common to have white vinegar in your kitchen, especially if you love to preserve and flavor vegetables or marinade meat to tenderize and add flavor. This liquid is generally made through the fermentation of distilled alcohol and contains 4-7% acetic acid and 93-96% water.

If you have been washing your bras in hard water that contains minerals like calcium and magnesium, there are chances that they have left deposits over time, giving the bra a grayish or yellowed cast. The acid in white vinegar helps to dissolve these mineral deposits, restoring the original white color of the fabric.

Simply fill a basin with lukewarm water and add 1-2 cups of white vinegar. Submerge the bra in the solution and allow it to soak for 1-2 hours. Wash the bra normally after soaking. However, you can add a cup of white vinegar when rinsing to help remove detergent residues.

Apply a Baking Soda Paste

Some laundry solutions like lemon juice, baking soda, clips, and a pile of towels

Baking soda is a weak alkaline compound that can neutralize acids. The alkalinity of the baking soda can turn the greasy component of the stains into soap, which is water-soluble, and you can then wash it away. This alkalinity can also help neutralize the acidic components that result from a reaction of proteins in sweat and the aluminum compounds in antiperspirants.

Also, baking soda is slightly abrasive when you make it into a paste. This can help remove superficial stains from the bra fabric when applied directly. You can make and apply the paste using the following steps:

  1. Mix baking soda with a small amount of water in a bowl. Since you want a consistency that’s spreadable yet not too runny, consider a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio of baking soda to water
  2. Spread the baking soda paste directly onto the bra.
  3. Using your fingers or a soft brush, gently rub the paste into the fabric. This helps the mild abrasive action of the baking soda work more effectively.
  4. Allow the baking soda paste to sit on the fabric for at least 30 minutes to an hour. If the bra has discolored so much, you can let it sit overnight. 
  5. After the waiting period, rinse the bra with cold water and then wash it normally.

Dry in Sunlight

The natural bleaching property of sunlight involves a combination of ultraviolet radiation from the sun and oxygen in the atmosphere. The UV radiation from the sun has enough energy to break down organic and inorganic materials such as food, oil, and sweat. 

As these stains degrade and dissipate, the fabric appears whiter. Also, the radiation can directly break down colored compounds into less colored compounds, making the fabric appear whiter. The combination of UV light and oxygen in the air can lead to the oxidation of stains, breaking down organic molecules and rendering them colorless.

A bra hanging on thin branch under the sun

For bras made of cotton, sunlight can gradually bleach the fibers themselves, leading to a lighter appearance over time. However, note that synthetic materials such as nylon, polyester, and elastane can degrade if exposed to sunlight for extended periods.

Soak in Hydrogen Peroxide Solution

Sodium peroxide, when dissolved in water, releases oxygen radicals. These oxygen radicals can react with colored compounds, converting them into colorless or less-colored compounds. Usually, this helps to remove stains from the fabric.

The oxygen radicals released can also react with the inherent grayish hues that develop on bras over time, transforming them back to a whiter state. However, sodium peroxide is a strong chemical, and when used in high concentrations, its oxidizing action can weaken elastane, making it hard to stretch your bra band.

Fill a basin with lukewarm water and add 0.18-0.35 ounces of sodium peroxide per liter of water. Soak the bra for 15-30 minutes, and then rinse the bra thoroughly with cold water to remove all traces of sodium peroxide.

Wash in a Mixture of Lemon Juice and Water

Lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent due to the presence of citric acid in lemons. Start by squeezing around two fresh lemons to get the juice. Mix the juice with water, and then soak your bra for around 1-2 hours. 

Three pieces of lemon and a spray bottle with lemon juice

Since lemon juice left on the fabric can attract insects or get sticky over time, rinse the bra with water to remove all traces of the juice. Considering that lemon juice is a weak acid, you can amplify the bleaching effect by placing the bra in direct sunlight to take advantage of the UV light method.

Causes of Gray Hues in Bras

Understanding why bras develop the gray hues can help you prevent decolorization from occurring in the first place. Here are the common reasons a bra can develop gray hues depending on the material and how you wash it.

  • Using too much detergent or not adequately rinsing bras can lead to soap residue build-up, causing a grayish cast.
  • Mineral deposits such as calcium and magnesium in hard water can give bras a grayish look.
  • Washing white push-up bras or even normal bras with darker-colored clothes can cause color transfer.
  • If you don’t allow the bra to dry adequately, it might develop mold or mildew, resulting in a gray hue.
  • Exposing bras to high temperatures, like when using a hot dryer, can degrade the fabric and make it grayish.
  • Chemicals in some deodorants and antiperspirants can react with the fabric, making it discolored.

Related Questions

How Often Should I Wash My Bras to Prevent Them From Turning Gray?

It’s advisable to wash bras, after every 3-4 wears. Washing them too often can cause wear and tear, which results in premature decolorization. On the other hand, waiting too long can lead to oil and sweat build-up and again cause gray hues.

Is It Safe to Machine Wash Bras When Trying to Whiten Them?

It’s advisable to hand wash bras when trying to whiten them due to the chemicals that you might be using. For instance, using sodium peroxide in a washing machine increases the chances of corrosion and might even lead to bra cups curling. However, you can still use some best bra wash bags when putting them on a machine.

Can I Use Chlorine Bleach for Whitening Bras?

It’s not advisable to use chlorine bleach to whiten bras as chlorine is a strong chemical that can break down delicate bra materials such as spandex. It can also cause yellowing in synthetic materials such as nylon and polyester instead of making them white.

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Final Thoughts

Whether you are looking for ways to remove stubborn stains or how to whiten bras that turn gray, mild acids such as lemon juice and vinegar or alkalis like baking soda and sodium peroxide are your best bet. You can also whiten the bras by drying them in sunlight.


Allena is the Founder and Editor of The Better Fit, a platform dedicated to empowering women with practical advice on bras and fitness, inspired by her own revelation of the widespread issue of incorrect bra sizing. Her expertise and tips have been recognized by major publications such as Cosmopolitan, Better Homes & Gardens, Insider, and NBC, making her a trusted voice in women's wellness and lifestyle.