DIY Bluing Powder Recipe

While I was writing the new book I remembered the terrible days when I ruined three sets of beautiful white sheets trying to recreate Bluo from my nana’s day.  The idea behind bluing is that the blue pigment exchanges with the yellow or grey pigment which makes white sheets look dull after lots of washes. I believe that the optical brighteners and other chemicals left in sheets when using supermarket laundry powders adds to this dullness.

So I bought some Prussian Blue pigment from the local art supply shop and set about mixing it with baking soda.  It took a while to get the dose quite right – which didn’t happen until I had streaked all my sheets bright blue!

Bluing powder is so easy to make and I would recommend you use it within a few months.  Add to the rinse cycle only when the bowl is full or you may get streaks.  If you have a front loader dissolve the powder in a cup of warm water before throwing it in.

Mix three cups of baking soda with 1/2 tsp of Prussian blue pigment powder (available at art stores). Use 1 tsp of this mix in your final rinse, making sure the bowl is full before adding. For best results dry in direct sunlight.

You can also buy ready made bluing powder here.

 

Comments 28

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Cam, Older clothes which have yellowed usually get that way because the fibres have been damaged rather than tinted from commercial washing powders. The blue acts as a pigment exchange swapping out yellow or grey pigments for yellow. Hope this helps.

  1. My washing machine doesn’t fill up during rinse cycle (just squirts water at the clothes 4 – 5 times) – can i put the powder in at the beginning?

    Thanks
    Sharon

    1. Post
      Author

      HI Sharon, I would dissolve the powder in a cup of water then add it at the rinse cycle. Don’t add at the beginning or it will just get washed out by the soap.

  2. Hi if you have a front loading machine can it just be put into the place where the fabric softener goes prior to turning on machine?

    1. Post
      Author

      No, the people who use front loaders tell me they dissolve it first in a cup of warm water then chuck that in. Hope this helps.

  3. I’ve been making and using the liquid laundry detergent recipe for about 6 mths now. Initially my husband was thrilled with how clean the clothes were compared to the previous Eco powders we’d been using, but now he’s sad at the dingy look of any white clothes. I’ve explained about optical whiteners in commercial detergents, but he just sighs and says he’ll have to get used to dingy clothes, poor lamb! 🙂 Can this bluing be used on any fabric? Any issues for sensitive skin (we have a young baby, hence using your recipes) ? Does it affect coloured clothes? None of our coloured clothes leach dye so everything goes in the same wash. And would you use it every wash or just every now and then?

    1. Post
      Author
  4. Hi. I have been enjoying your website. It’s the first time that I’ve seen it.
    I too would like to know more about how to use this in a front loading machine. Mine locks tight until the end of the last spin cycle, so I can’t put anything in to it.
    Is it possible to add it into one of the compartments during the cycle? If so, which compartment would it go into?
    I look forward to hearing your answer.
    Many thanks, Jenny.

    1. Post
      Author
  5. Hi, I have been looking for a recipe for this – I can remember my Mum adding blue liquid to the whirs when i was young. Thanks so much.

    I made this a week ago and put it in a glass jar on my laundry shelf away from the light (my laundry’s quite dark). When I made it, the powder was very blue but now it’s faded and is almost white. Should I add more blue pigment? Will it still work even though it’s no longer blue?
    Thanks. carol

    1. Post
      Author
  6. Hi Wendyl,

    I was wondering if I could use a bit of this in a bucket of water instead for a quick soak? If so, how much? It’s just that I’m not sure when the bowl is full and I don’t want to risk getting blue on my clothes 🙁

    Thanks for your help!

    1. Post
      Author

      You could try this although I’m not sure of quantities. If using one bucket and one sheet I would use 1/2 a teaspoon and make sure it is well dissolved first.

  7. Hi there. We have two white duvets in our house but they both do have a small amount of colour on them – will this affect the colour or will it be ok?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Sharon, Should be okay, it is a pigment exchange of the blue with any yellow/grey tinge in the white. So if anything will brighten the colours already there.

  8. Hi, I have made your blueing recipe and have put my sheets in the washing machine and put the blue I g powder in at the final dunce cycle and there is no difference in the sheets. I purchased prussian blue pigment powder from an art shop and mixed with the baking soda. Do you have any suggestions? My sheets are still grey. Thanks

    1. Post
      Author

      HI Audrey, I think you might not be using enough. Double the amount and see if that make a difference and check that you are only washing two sheets at a time and it is an average load.

  9. Hi
    Is it safe to use with white baby woolens as a final rinse? A white cardigan has been yellowed through exposure to the sun.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Heather, would be worth a try although often the yellowing means the wool fibre has been burned by the sun which is impossible to remove.

  10. What exactly is the difference between this & the oxygen soaker? If I am wanting to remove general stains from clothes which is better? Thanks

    1. Post
      Author

      HI Rachel, the blueing powder is a pigment exchange – so the blue exchanges out yellow or grey pigments in white clothes. It is a rinse. The oxy=bleach is a soaker so I would use that for stain removal.

    1. Hi Kat, yes if you don’t use your sheets again and store them well away from any moisture etc. If you are using them then you’ll need to use it from time to time.

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