Miracle Laundry Whitening Solution


It’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted ANYTHING about laundry! I’m going through withdrawals! :-) I’m one of those strange people who likes laundry. And one of the things I like MOST about it…is the sense of accomplishment when something dirty comes out CLEAN. I guess I also like the “challenge” aspect of it as well. Turning dirty, dingy, grimy and stained into white, bright, fresh and clean. Yep, I find that very appealing. :-)

So when I came across this “recipe” for whitening whites in the comments section of a post at Homemade Mamas, I knew I had to try it. And I had the PERFECT test subject! A dingy mattress pad that I have washed time and time again…but never comes out WHITE anymore. For some reason I just KNEW there was a whiteness still lurking under the dinginess…I just needed the right formula to apply to it. This one seemed very promising.

Katie JoMar commented:

  • HOT HOT HOT water
  • 1 cup of laundry detergent
  • 1 cup powdered dish washer detergent
  • 1 cup bleach
  • 1/2 cup borax

After filling the washing machine with HOT water….I also dumped in a large-sized pot of water I had brought to a boil on the stove. I was looking for HOT HOT HOT water, just like Katie said.

Another thing to remember is to add the above ingredients to as small a load size as possible. You are looking for CONCENTRATED cleaning power, and the more water you have in the tub, the less concentrated it will be. Shoot for BARELY enough water to cover the article.

Let soak for as long as you can stand it! :-)  I managed to stay away from it for a couple of hours. Overnight would work too.

This is what the mattress pad looked like before “treatment”. Believe it or not, I’d just BARELY washed it. (Please keep in mind it’s very tricky trying to show before and after photos of mostly WHITE images, but I tried my best!)

Notice how dingy the top side of the mattress pad is compared to the SIDES of the pad. Fairly dramatic difference I’d say.

And here is the same mattress pad after soaking in the whitening solution and EXTRA hot water for around 2 hours. BIG DIFFERENCE!!!  The whitening solution actually managed to release the WHITE that was lurking within! And I call that SUCCESS!


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  1. Tegan says

    Does this take colour out? I have white school shirts that have a colour emblem and colour around the collar and am looking for something to get them white again with out taking the colour out. Thanks

      • Melanie says

        I’ve used this recipe for years except instead of regular bleach use color safe bleach and it gets those baby spit up stains, etc. out of clothes. Safe for colored clothes this way. I just used to soak it in a bucket overnight. Then washed it.

      • Lucy says

        That’s really smart (to have a bucket to soak in as opposed to using the washing machine). I love that I came across this. My husband wears a white tee under EVERYTHING, and whenever we wander back to Florida from time to time I make sure to have them all for her to do, because she’s a miracle worker. I can’t wait to give this a go. Since we live in California, I don’t get to have mom’s help too much.

      • Nellyhill says

        Thank you Melanie! My teenagers have white uniform shirts with their school logo on them and I just CAN’T get those shirts back to white. I will have to try this in a bucket (I have a front load machine).

      • Maria says

        I like the bucket idea too because I have a front loader. There is nothing like a good old top loader with an agitator IMHO. Also I don’t think my septic system would like the bleach so I am going to try it with the color safe…after I see if THAT is safe!

      • Gayle says

        I agree on the Top Loader!!! I drooled over the front loader and then heard all the issues with them and I was almost an empty nester so knew I didn’t really need one. This mix looks great and I would think it would have to get anything whiter with all of this added. I have a friend that used to put a load into soak every night before she went to bed. Her daughters socks were so stiff compared to my daughters.:(( Most of the time I just put my washer on the longest wash after a 30-45 min. soak and things are really clean.

      • Glady says

        I have a front loader here in Canada and one in my home in Florida, and when I bought these there was only my husband and myself. Sadly as of last Feb6th, there is only me and I would still not trade my front loader for a Truck load of top loaders. For one thing they do use a lot less water which is a money saver right there and bears credibility to the Pail or sink soaking method.

      • Jennifer says

        With the pillow whitening treatment. Do you soak it for several hours and then run it through the laundry cycle? Usually when I wash and dry pillows. It leaves them lumpy. Any suggestions or answers to either of these points?

      • Stasia Boyles says

        find one of the balls, donut shaped things, etc they make for the dryer. they are made to fluff down blankets, pillows and stuff while it dries so the filling dries evenly and not all clumped together

      • P. Johnson says

        Put a hockey puck in a white sock and put in the dryer with pillows and down quilts and down jackets. Works great!

      • ellen says

        If the pillows or blankets are feather I use shampoo to wash them and then dry for 20 min and then rearrange them and dry for 20-30 more and repeat until dry.
        Depending on the load size I will use 1/8 cup or less.

      • Roxanna says

        This also will not work if you have well water with iron in it. The bleach in the dishwashing soap and bleach reacts badly with the iron. Turns everything grey.

    • says

      I agree with Glenda’s comment. But, you might be able to use color-safe bleach instead of regular bleach? Just make sure to test first!

      • says

        My mom has been using this recipe only with Cascade dish washing detergent, Tide and bleach. We put it in the washing machine with the water & run the agitator for 10 minutes before you put the clothes in to soak. For some reason, we think the Cascade counteracts the bleach from draining colour the out. So she washed all of our clothes- all colours if they had impossible stains! The recipe just has to be well mixed before adding the clothes.

      • Amy says

        Pamela I was wondering if you could tell how much of each you put in so I could try this. Thanks you.

      • Rita says

        Excellent question Caren. Also, I’d like to know if it matters if it’s powder or liquid laundry detergent or if it matters.

      • says

        you can use this in a front loader, you just have to add it to the drum and not in the spot for detergent. I use homemade laundry soap in mine. HE machines just like things that are not high suds so maybe get a dishwashing soap that is not super sudsy and you will have no problems at all :)

      • Amber S says

        I don’t think using the front-loaders is an option — The washing machine is just a vessel to hold the solution and let it soak. It has the added benefit of being able to then wash afterwards. Try using a bath tub (I imagine this would work wonders cleaning that, too) or a large bucket or portable washbin. A utility sink might be another option as well.

      • Debra says

        I was given a very similar recipe, 1 cup bleach, 1 cup Cascade, by a children’s resale shop owner when my children were very small and I used my bathtub. Worked wonders! Removed almost anything, even stains that had been set in. She also stressed hot, hot, hot water.

      • Ashley says

        You can either mix it in a utility sink/bucket and let it sit, or..I used less laundry detergent (Tide) and half a cup of the dish detergent, put the washer on eco-heavy setting. I’m letting mine run through but I think if you wanted to let it sit and you don’t have a soak setting, just turn the washer off/pause it after it has rotated a few times and gotten everything saturated.

      • Helen Forbes says

        When My kids were babies I used Liquid Cascade, Liquid Clorox 2 and hot water in a bucket to soak their food (and other) stains. But you have to mix it up b/f you add the clothes b/c the Cascade will remove color. This works like a charm. As a matter of fact I even did this in the bathtub once for a large amout of clothes that needed soaking then just put them in a laundry basket to transfer to the washer.

      • says

        yes you can. just use a dishwasher soap that is not super sudsy. I make my own laundry soap you just have to add directly to the drum and not in the dispenser. also..someone made a comment about it not being able to soak in a front loader, just hit the pause button after the drum fills up with water and hit start when you are done soaking :)

      • Trista says

        I think it’s important in our efforts to be green that we take the whole picture into consideration. Chlorine is horrible for the environment and fresh water is our most precious resource. Being paperless is great if we are also being conscientious of our cleaning products and water usage. I’m not judging, I feel I need to be greener, myself, but every time I fill that washing machine I think about it.

      • CHRISTINA says


      • An front loader user says

        The steam cycle that you are refering too “like dry cleaning” is actually in a DRYER. Washing machines can have a steam boost cycle that can be used as well, but it is part of a regular cycle with detergent and water. (a “dry cleaning” cycle wouldn’t use water either therefore it wouldn’t make sense in a washer).

        Christina, I would use as a soak in a bathtub or bucket. The amount of detergent and dishwasher soap would be way too much for a front load washing machine. I am afraid that you might end up with bubbles exploding out the door like you see on tv.

      • says

        I have a front loader that is an all in one washing machine/dryer that has a hot steam /dry cleaning option… my MIL calls it the “freshen” cycle. ;)

        But definitely use the bucket soak method. If you have young kids please soak in something with a lid or make sure they can’t get to the container. I use a Rubbermaid container with a lid that is nearly impossible to remove to soak my cloth diapers.

        I’m really looking forward to trying out some of these recipes to see what works the best. Thanks Jillee for posting and everyone for your comments.

      • Lill says

        My front load washer DOES have a separate steam cycle. It utilizes steam by way of having a built in heater to boost the water temperature to steam level~ a fabulous option that I frequently use.

        The dryer also has a steam fresh cycle too. Love my washer and dryer!

      • Jess says

        Lill, we probably have the same machines! I use the “steam” cycle on my washer at least 2-3 times per week. The dryer’s “steam” cycle is a really useful function. It’s great for our Lab’s bedding and lots of other things as well. My dryer has a “steam sanitary” & a “steam fresh” cycle. My washer also has an “steam allergiene” cycle (asthma & allergy friendly). Great for our oldest son’s asthma & our youngest son’s allergies. I’m called the “Stain Mistress” by my family & friends – I prefer front load machines to top loaders.

      • ruthagraber says

        FYI – The steam feature in my new front-loading HE Maytag washer isn’t for dry cleaning, it is for stain removal during wash cycle. I use it for colored clothes and (separate loads) whites. In both cases I do use detergent and/or bleach (color safe or Clorox). It’s my favorite aspect of my new washer. It really works!

    • Hazel says

      Use ammonia, dilute 1 part ammonia to 3 parts water… place something in between the shirt like paper towels to catch the stain and keep it from spreading, spray on the solution and blot with more paper towels, you may have to do this over and over again, changing to new towels once they have soaked up the color but it works, this is how I got the explosion of black ink off my husbands white coat after his pen exploded, remember to do this in a well ventilated area and never ever ever use bleach or hot water on a paint or ink stain for this will make it almost permanent…

      • kim maxwell says

        you just spray it on and throw it in the washer. Ive been a nurse for many years and this works great on ink stains!! I believe i read somewhere you have to use aerosol hairspray… so thats what ive always used.. works great

      • Staci says

        Yep I use the hairspray. It works wonders just spray it on and wash. I usually let it soak in for a few second or a min. Before I put the clothes in the washer.

      • Ashley says

        hairspray also works great for permanent marker on skin. We have to write swim meet info on my daughter’s arm and the can hairspray takes it off with ease

      • Terri says

        Hair spray will also keep any spilled hair dye from becoming a permanent stain. Learned this in Beauty School. Spray the drip with hairspray and launder when you get home. We wore white polyester uniforms, and never had a hair dye stain that set.

      • says

        I haven’t seen it here but I may be repeating but aerosol hair spray works well on grass stains on athletic clothes: knees on football pants especially. We just bought the cheapest we could find!

      • says

        Love you all, lol! I have been using aerosol hairspray on ink stains for years – skin, clothing, even walls, and the first time my husband saw me do it he said I’d just seal in the stain with the sticky hair spray. I laughed hard at that one! Then he saw that it works and now he thinks I’m some kind of miracle worker-wait until he sees how white his whites will be after I try this “miracle laundry whitener” hahahaha
        Glad to know other people are well aware of this hairspray miracle, lol… not that it’s particularly good for the air-ways, but it works!

      • B Jackson says

        If you use the hairspray make sure it is old fashioned in an aerosol can type.
        You can use straight isopropyl alcohol (one of the main things in the old hairspray that made it work). May want to let it soak on longer dried out stains. Husband is forever staining his shirts with his pens so I see this one a lot!

      • Brandi says

        I have been spraying hairspray on clothes stains for years now. I have used aersol as well as the spray (which ever one I happen to have on hand) and IMO they both work fine

      • Katy says

        Does not have to be aerosol. I am a hairstylist, and we get permanent hair dye out of our clothes. We spray the hairspray until the spot is quite wet, then let it sit and wash when we get home.

      • jenn says

        Rubbing Alcohol also works for getting out pen ink stains. Felt pens, Sharpies, Ball Point… anything. I have been doing this since I was a kid.

      • Amisstree says

        You might want to include in your post, NEVER EVER EVER mix bleach and ammonia. It releases noxious fumes that will knock you out or retard your breathing.

      • Angie says

        Amistree is right to use all caps to warn against using ammonia and bleach together. It can KILL you. I have a good friend who almost died from the fumes and still has lung damage from it. Be careful.

      • Debbie Ray says

        A high school friend of mine just passed away on Christmas Day just this past Christmas, 2012, from cleaning her bathroom with bleach & ammonia…Seriously, this is not something to mess with! It burnt her lungs & her esophagus beyond repair…A terrible way & time to die!

      • Terri says

        a friend of mine once used them to clean her toilet, and said she woke up on the floor outside the bathroom.

      • Angie says

        When I was a teenager I wanted to scrub the kitchen floor for my mom. I used a combo of bleach and ammonia, thinking it would really clean the floor! Next thing I know I was coughing and gasping for air. One or both of my parents (can’t remember who) had to drag me out of the kitchen! I think I was lucky that our kitchen was sort of an open space, so the fumes could not accumulate as much as in an enclosed bathroom.

      • Janet says

        Also, Never use ammonia in combination with bleach. The combination creates instantly deadly fumes!

    • Melissa says

      Totally OFF subject, but I don’t see other people with my daughter’s name (Tegan & spelled the same) too often, so I just wanted to say “HI!” :-)

      • Arbie says

        Im with you both on this one.. Amisstree, Very Very Rude!!!!! Melissa i think thats pretty cool!! as you can see i have a very unique name myself!! and its Rare to None that i see someone with my name!! Im like you, i would have done the same thing!!!

      • Sunny says

        Wow, rude! Holy cow. I thought her comment was cute. No one here ever said to mix bleach and ammonia but it sure took a thread. Good grief. Melissa, THANK you for throwing the name of your daughter in, broke up the bleach/ammonia thread (there was no need for it – not in the recipe!) I love your daughter’s name Melissa.

      • Caity Sue says

        OMG – I can’t believe how RUDE and UNCALLED for that comment from Amisstree is…Holy Toledo! I didn’t feel that Melissa was complaining about someone else “stealing” or “using” her daughter’s name! Good grief – she was just commenting on how rare it is to see that name and that spelling so she wanted to say “hi”. Certainly no crime in that. Too bad rudeness isn’t a crime.

    • Shari Kalous says

      I wonder, if you left out the bleach if it would still work? Make it safe for colors or maybe exchange the bleach for like Clorox 2? Hmm something to maybe try on something not to important! may have to try it myself, I have a couple things like that to! My husbands Hoodies! lol

      • Jan says

        I have used Ironout as well. I have found it changes the color of some items. Reds look orange and blues go grey. Works well on whites though.

    • SlushKitty says

      {Does this take color out?}

      I’ve got a few results regarding any discoloring:

      -100% Cotton (Fruit of the Loom panties, white with color trim)
      No discoloration/lightening.
      -100% Cotton (Disney panties, white with color trim stitches & iron on decal)
      No discoloration/lightening.
      -100% Cotton (White sock with color toes & heel)
      No discoloration/lightening.

      -95% Cotton 5% Spandex (White shirt, color sleeves, dark trim on neck & sleeve seams, glitter #’s on chest)
      Sleeves slightly lighter, neck trim has bleaching effect, no discoloration or damage to glitter #’s.

      So it’s probably safe to say that the 100% cottons are safe but anything less @ this point may be at risk for discoloration. I am still going to test a cotton polyester mix to see how that turns out & will post results @ a later date.

    • serdlc64 says

      I thought that the picture of before and after was the one also used in the Lemon Juice and peroxide mixture for bleach alternative and the same pic is now here with the whitening solution of dishwasher soap etc. Which is it really or is it just fake????

  2. Christine says

    Did you use the dishwasher detergent shown in the picture or your own homemade stuff? Thanks for this recipe! I’m excited to try it!

  3. Kate says

    How could I use this on a whole load? Like on socks from 3 messy boys. Could I just double or triple the ingredients, or should I wash several loads?

  4. Karen Zaccagnini says

    I have a front loader, so I’m not entirely sure how that I can do this. I would also love to be able to do a full load of boy’s socks! I was even thinking of doing a pre-soak in a big rubbermaid tub and maybe doubling the recipe?

    • says

      I have used straight dishwasher detergent as a soak before in a washtub and it works great. You would definitely want to run them through the washer afterwards.

    • says

      I have an HE washer as well. But, if I had a small load like socks, I might consider heating the water in a large stock pot on the stove, then adding the solution along with the socks, and let soak overnight. When you’re finished, just toss them into the HE machine and run a good rinse cycle.

    • Jax says

      I need HE methods too. Judging from the previous posts, I think a soak in the bath tub or some other vessel then into the machine. I do not see anyway of doing this in a front loader. Looks like premixing the ingredients and soaking is the key here.

      • Sheila says

        I wouldn’t try this in a front loading machine. If you use the laundry soap for HE washer, just cut back on the laundry soap as that is already concentrated. Just use a bucket for the soaking, then transfer into the washing machine. Not as convenient, but you probably are not going to get your water hot enough and the bleach compartment may not hold enough bleach.

      • Cheri says

        I have an HE and would say that if you mix this with a small amount of water (just enough to mix it all up) and them add to detergent chamber slowly, it should all go down and them wash it on sanitary or whatever your hottest level is. You can put it on stain cycle too if you have one for soaking time. I would not use the steam cycle because it is not for use with detergents. : )

      • Nancy says

        Ladies! Let’s use our brains here. The idea is to SOAK the clothes in the solution. Top loaders can be used as a handy alternative to a bucket or tub because there is no transferring the dripping clothes from a sink, bucket, tub, etc. The top loader is upright. You can place water in it before you actually wash the clothes.
        As a matter of fact, I ran the clothes through the spin cycle B4 I started a wash cycle. A Front Loader cannot hold a bucket of water plus clothes to soak. You would have to open the door, put a bucket of premixed water & cleaning agents in it and then put clothes in it & mix. THE DOOR WOULD BE OPEN FOR YOU TO DO THIS AS A SOAK IN A FRONT LOADER. That is why it would not work. A SOAK is a SOAK. Get yourself a bucket or tub. Wring them out by hand in your utility sink & then throw them in your front loader. If they make a top loading HE machine that you could spin the solution out of before you actually wash them then that is great; do it. Hope that makes it clear.

      • Eileen says

        Thanks for the common sense virtual-head-smack Nancy! Added note – if you put this in your HE washer (front load) you will have suds bursting out everywhere (a la I Love Lucy) because the detergent isnt formulated for that use :) Soak it a tub/bucket/sink/stockpot & transfer

    • Amanda says

      I have a frontload HE washer and what I did was use one of those really large tubs that you can get from Walmart/Target with the rope handles and used these same measurements and filled with hot tap water then added a few pots of boiling water. I then transferred it to the washed and washed as normal (hot normal cycle). It worked and I was truly amazed. I have searched long and hard trying to find someway to get rid of those nasty stains. Very happy. Thanks Jillee!

      • says

        Hey Amanda!
        I am going to put myself out there honestly and embarrassingly when I ask this ..
        With your frontload HE washer do you still add detergent when you set it to hot normal cycle?

  5. Jill says

    I have used this trick for years but never with borax. I will have to give it a try. My most treasured laundry tip is Lestoil for oil or grease stains. I mean GREASE! Car, tractor, grease you name it as well as oil from food. Just put it in the spot and let sit before laundering. ( check for color fastness of fabric) I had one t-shirt that faded.

    • Sue says

      I agree–Lestoil is awesome for grease and oil. My husband sometimes works in warehouses and heavy industry facilities (i.e. steel mills) and Lestoil has saved his work clothes.

      • Michelle says

        My dad is a mailman and in the summer time, his sweat and the strap from the mailbag causes a gross dirty stripe on the front of his uniform. Lestoil gets the stain out every time.

    • becky says

      My husband works for an oil company so always dirty.. Where can i find lestoil? Will it work in an HE machine?

      • Amy says

        I had been looking for Lestoil recently and finally found it at Home Depot with the cleaning products!

      • Karen says

        Lestoil is incredible at removing oil stains and any other stubborn stains…have used it for over 30 years! Hard to find…Fleet Farm has had it..once found it on clearance at Wal-Mart for $1.00 a bottle…I think I bought 6 bottles!

    • Keith says

      Really tough grease and tar can be pre-treated with GoJo hand cleaner. Just rub it into the stain before washing. I have used it to remove asphalt from commercial carpet. It’s my “go to” solution for any petroleum based stain in carpet and my personal laundry.

    • says

      I’m curious about using Lestoil. I tried it once to get out oily stains. The stains did lessen after a soak and a wash, but my washing machine and the clothes stunk of Lestoil for days. Even subsequent loads of laundry took on the smell just from being in the same machine (front load). I’m curious if others have run into the same problem, or if maybe I just need to be rinsing better before laundering!

      • Holly says

        Try using Dawn dish soap. I’ve had great success using it to get out grease and oil even after the item had gone through the dryer.

      • kim maxwell says

        Dawn dish soap is a miracle worker on grease stains! It even gets out grease stains that have gone through the washer and dryer!

      • Michelle D. says

        I have had the same experience, Holly! Even if the grease has been set by the dryer, Dawn gets it out. I squirt a bit of Dawn on it, rub it in with an old toothbrush and rewash. Comes out every time!

    • Amisstree says

      Your Lestoil tip is right, my mom used to use it but….I can’t stand the smell of Lestoil. Baking soda or OxiClean work great for grease stains too. Apply a stain releasing gel like Shout or Spray & Wash, then apply some OxiClean or baking soda, press concoction into stain, and then apply another dollop of stain releasing gel, let sit overnight, and then launder in the hottest H20 garment can take. I’ve found this to work on white shirts that had old fruit stains in them and had gone through the drier already several times. This recipe took the stains right out.

    • Jess says

      I’ve also used WD-40 with great results. I use coconut oil as a deep conditioner for my hair & I sleep with it in my hair. I put a large folded towel on my pillow & wrap my hair as well. But a couple of months ago I ended up getting a huge oil spot on my pillowcase! So I used WD-40 on the oil spot – placing 2 folded white towels in between and squirting the WD-40 on the oil spot. It took 2 treatments to get the oil totally out & there was no residual smell.

      • Ember says

        I too regret having purchased an HE washer; what a rip-off. It does not get clothes clean and has been a real money pit. I purchased my w/d set when prices were really high, then had several repairs while under warranty. Now both machines have problems again, warranty expired 2 mos ago. This is it, I’m going back to “old school” Maytag large capacity. I work for a friend who bought one two years ago & the cycle agitates much better and runs for only 20 minutes getting very large amounts of clothes clean.

  6. Lori says

    I’m a little confused, my washer will stop going through cycles? Do I leave the lid up? Could I soak in my 5 gal. bucket then wash?
    On a side note I’m very sad that none of the commissaries (military grocery stores) have laundry bars so I cannot get fels naptha… is that what it’s called? I’ll have to order online… (I’m in Japan)

      • Shirley says

        Fill the washer up with the water and solution. Put your clothes in and then turn off the washer until
        soak time is up. Then turn back on and continue washing. You dont have to worry about the different cycles of the washer. That is how I soak things anyway.

      • Bindyqtpi says

        Jillee – no no, don’t leave the lid up, all that *hot hot hot* water will go to waste! Put the lid up, unplug the thing, then put the lid back down!

    • Christie says

      Try Ivory bar soap, it is a thousand times better! Just wet the stain, rub the bar of soap on it, give it a little scrub and let it set for about 15 minutes and throw it in the wash.

  7. Marianne says

    I’m going to try this on my ugly dirty socks!

    From your picture it looks like you used your homemade laundry detergent that’s made from Dawn (I’m just guessing here, because it looks blue). I thought you weren’t supposed to mix Dawn with bleach?

    • says

      I wouldn’t try this in your front load washer/HE washer. I have one also. What I would do is soak your items in a laundry tub or kitchen sink, still using the hot, hot, hot water. Remember the less water you use the better the outcome. Use the same ingredients. Then be sure to rinse everything thoroughly and transfer to your front load washer and wash a normal load, washing in hot water. I have some dingy towels that this method should work well on.

  8. Linda says

    When my twin sons were in Little League, they got terrible grass stains in the knees and butts of their uniforms. I don’t remember who told me (it’s been awhile, they’re 36 now), but someone suggested a pre-soak, preferable overnight, in a powdered dishwasher soap/water mix. I always just got the cheapest one. The I just put it on spin and then washed like a regular load. It was amazing! All the stains were gone. I’ve found that the commercial stuff has a form of bleach in it, so I never had to add any. Sparkly-white uniforms. So nice! 8-)

    xo Linda (so glad I found your blog. I send a lot of your posts to my daughter, the new independent-living, drowning-in-school-debt, post graduate student)