How to Remove “Ring Around the Collar” Without Bleach


I was mortified to find my hubby’s white shirt with a proverbial, ‘ring around the collar’ last week. Remember the funny 70’s commercial? Google it!

Actually, it was more like a ‘ringworm around the collar’ to me. And hubby was embarrassed, as if it made him look like he doesn’t take showers. So I put on my ringworm-buster uniform on and went to work on exterminating this ringworm.

I pride myself for being a good, no, great, launderer and to see that icky brownish stain on the collar made my skin crawl. He showers every day so how does it get that dirty? Actually, may be more appropriate question is, is my laundry skill failing him?

The answer is neither. It’s the oils, the sweat, and the air. It’s not his dirty skin or my laundry skills. Ring around the collar is just one of those inevitable stains that just stays on if not treated separately.

So I went on the “attack the ringworm around the collar” mode and this is what I found to be most effective in removing this pesky stain without using toxic bleach or toxic laundry detergent.

ring around the collar by ecokaren

How to remove “Ring Around the Collar” Without Bleach

You’ll Need:
Shirt with dirty collar (no brainer)
1 Tbsp Super Washing Soda (don’t have one? make it using my recipe)
1 Tbsp Hydrogen Peroxide (you can buy here )
1 Tbsp Liquid Non-Toxic Laundry Detergent (I have a jug of liquid Ecos Laundry Liquid for hand washing or for emergencies like this)
Old Toothbrush

Combine the ingredients and make a paste. It may be watery, depending on the consistency of your detergent. You’ll be spreading it across the collar so make sure the shirt is on a flat surface that will be ok if the solution leaks through. Leave the paste on the collar for at least 4 hours, longer the better since hydrogen peroxide works better with time. Remember my whitening socks method? FYI – I left this paste on the collar overnight.
soaking shirt ecokaren
After it’s been on the collar for a few hours, you can either rub the collar together or brush the neckline with an old toothbrush. Then, fill a bucket with lukewarm water and soak the shirt for another few hours. The reason you have to soak the entire shirt is so that the entire shirt gets whitened and not just the collar. There might be a line of whitened area and the rest of the shirt might look dingy.

After a few hours, rinse the shirt a few times until the water is clear. Ring our the water as much as you can and line dry. Iron as you normally do.

And voilá! No more ringworm around the collar! You can click on the images to enlarge.
No more ring around the collar
This is before.
shirt with ring around the collar
See the difference?

Hubby was once again a proud man with a clean collar.

NOTE: The information in this post is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Dr. Karen disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information. Opinions and statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. The information is for general consumer understanding and education, and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice and it is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. I am not your doctor and you should consult with a qualified healthcare professional on any matter relating to their health and well being on one-on-one basis with thorough physical examination. Dr. Karen encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional. Products Dr. Karen recommends and their properties have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using the products. For more info, visit the Disclaimer page.

Anna@Green Talk
Anna@Green Talk

Do you think this will work on a shirt that has already gone through the dryer?

Eco novice
Eco novice

What about for non-white shirts? Any ideas?

Dr. Karen
Dr. Karen moderator

@greentalk This shirt was an old shirt that has been washed and dried for YEARS! So yea. it should work. 

Dr. Karen
Dr. Karen moderator

@Eco novice I wouldn't use Hydrogen Peroxide in colored clothes. It bleaches colors like bleach. I didn't try colored shirts but I would try Oxyclean instead of HP, and use the other ingredients in the formula.