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With a little care, your whites can stay bright, even as you enjoy your colorful life.
It’s hard to beat a crisp, white dress shirt or a new white T-shirt for making you appear taller. Let’s face it, keeping whites white can be a challenge. Then life happens, and you have to figure out how to remove coffee stains from clothes, sweat stains from clothes, and red wine stains from clothes. The list goes on and on. Don’t worry. We’re going to answer all your questions about how to wash white clothing with the help of some top laundry experts.
Be sure to read your clothing’s care labels before loading your washing machine, paying special attention to the laundry symbols. Then, use the best laundry detergent for whites and wash your clothes at the right temperature.
How to do laundry so your white clothes look brand new.
How to wash white clothes
Bright clothes can fade, but nothing irks quite like white laundry that has taken on a yellowish hue. It’s a look that says your linens are old or you don’t know how to properly wash white clothes. Don’t worry. You will be well on your way to bright whites after following this step-by-step guide.
1. Read clothing labels
It’s important to read the care label before washing white clothes, linens, or delicates. In order to prevent damage to the item, they will tell you exactly what you need to do.
2. Sort your laundry
You can ensure that your whites stay white by knowing how to separate laundry.
“Separating whites from colored items may seem antiquated, but it’s much safer,” says celebrity stylist Samantha Brown.
Except for bathing suits and high-performance athletic wear, there is no need to separate laundry by fabric. In order to achieve the best results, spandex and nylon clothing should be washed separately from cotton and linen clothing because they are made of different materials.
3. Pretreat stains
When washing a white item that’s dirty or stained, pretreat it before putting it in the machine. It is recommended to use OxiClean Max Force Foam Laundry Stain Remover or Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover Laundry Spray, according to Brown.
Sarah Karakaian and Annette Grant, hosts of the Thanks for Visiting podcast and professional short-term rental hosts, swear by Purex Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar & Stain Remover. Our whites soak for an hour in warm water with one cup of Fels-Naptha dissolved in it. After that, we proceed with our regular cleaning procedure.”
4. Pick the best detergent for white clothes
Grant loves Arm & Hammer Liquid Laundry Concentrate Plus OxicClean because it’s safe for both standard and high-efficiency washing machines. You don’t need to use a special HE detergent to clean your clothes.
“We also add a cup of white vinegar to the fabric softener compartment,” she says. A great way to whiten and brighten your skin is with distilled vinegar. In addition, it’s the best for combating odors. Distilled white vinegar does not contain natural plant dyes that can stain your whites.”
5. Choose the right water temperature
It’s time to wash, but don’t just hit start. It is important to know whether you should wash whites in hot or cold water.
“Hex Performance, which makes laundry detergent for activewear, recommends using hot water for removing dirt and stains, but it can also cause shrinkage, so check the instructions first,” says Drew Westervelt, founder and CEO.
When washing whites with patterns or stripes, what temperature should you use? To ensure the colors stay put, wash them in cold water the first few times. A warm water wash should follow.
6. Use a delicate cycle
The fibers are less likely to be abraded by gentle, short cycles. Make sure you wash your whites with like-colored delicates to keep them looking new.
7. Dry whites outside
The sun is your best friend if you want to keep your whites white, says fashion stylist Leena Alsulaiman. Line dry your whites and delicates whenever possible. As a result, their colors and fiber integrity are preserved for a longer period of time.”
8. Avoid fabric softener
To prevent a gray tinge on white clothes, experts recommend using baking soda and vinegar instead of fabric softener.
9. Clean your washer
Although it may seem counterintuitive, you must clean your washing machine periodically to prevent it from making your clothes dirtier. Once a month, simply throw an Affresh Washing Machine Cleaner tablet into your machine.
How to bleach white clothes
Dingy white clothes can be cleaned with bleach, but this is a misconception. The fact that an item is white doesn’t mean it can be cleaned with bleach. You will find out if you can use bleach on your garment by reading the care label.
Bleach comes in two types: chlorine bleach and oxygen bleach. Oxygen bleach is color-safe, while chlorine bleach is stronger. You should never use chlorine bleach on anything delicate because it can easily damage it.
Why you might want to skip bleach
“I’m not a big fan of bleaching whites,” admits Alsulaiman. I would first try to wash stained whites with a bleach-free detergent and a whitening laundry booster like Mrs. Stuart’s Bluing Agent or Tide Brights and Whites Rescue In-Wash Laundry Booster. When chlorine bleach is mixed with proteins, it causes a chemical reaction that turns them yellow. Any lingering sweat on your shirts, T-shirts, or bed sheets will, without a doubt, turn yellow.”
Bleach itself can cause yellowing in a number of ways. “You might be using bleach on garments that aren’t meant to be bleached, or you might be using too much bleach, or you might be not rinsing thoroughly,” explains Karakaian. Additionally, not all bleach brands are created equal. Cheap brands skimp on ingredients and won’t protect your garments against discoloration. When we need bleach, we use Clorox instead of OxyClean because we love OxyClean.”
Brand-new clothes don’t appear white because of bleach. “New clothes are super white because they have an extra blue dye added to them,” says Alsulaiman. When you wash incorrectly with chlorine bleach, the blue color slowly leaches out, causing yellow tones to appear.”
Bleaching white shirts and other clothing
According to the experts, here’s how to bleach white clothes:
- Check the garment’s label for care instructions.
- Test the bleach on a small, hidden spot on the garment before using it.
- Let garments soak for an hour before treating them.
- Put detergent in the appropriate compartment of your washing machine. Make sure you measure out the right amount according to the label. Grant warns that “more detergent does not equate to cleaner or whiter clothes.”.
- You can add bleach to your machine’s timed bleach dispenser. Each machine is different, so check the manufacturer’s instructions.
The first three steps are the same if you’re bleaching white delicates by hand. Let the garment soak for 15 to 30 minutes after removing it from the dirty water, refilling the sink with clean water, adding oxygen bleach, and then removing it from the dirty water.
How to care for white clothes
It is easy to wash white clothes if you know how. I think that’s a good first step. To keep clothing white, you must also properly care for it. You can do it this way.
Wash them often. “Stains can build up and darken over time on white shirts,” says Brown, who recommends spraying the collar and underarms with OxiClean Max Force Foam Laundry Pre-Treater.
Treat stains immediately. The longer you leave a stain on white clothing, the harder it will be to remove. You don’t have time to waste.
Get the wrinkles out. When white shirts are pressed, especially the collars and cuffs, they look sharp, but check the care label for any special instructions before ironing. To prevent burning or discoloration from a rusty iron plate, Brown recommends using a very lightly dampened washcloth between the garment and the iron.
Store white clothes properly. Make sure they are completely dry before storing them in a cool, dry place to prevent mildew. Attics, basements, and garages are not allowed. Use polypropylene storage boxes if you’re storing them for a season. Whites can yellow if contaminants are trapped in regular plastic containers.
How to care for white towels
“I like to wash white towels with bleach-free detergent and half a cup of baking soda,” says Alsulaiman. It is gentle and helps remove dirt that can cause discoloration. Once a month, I also add some bluing agent.”
To keep white towels looking and feeling their best, Grant and Karakaian recommend using distilled white vinegar instead of bleach.
How to care for white sheets
When it comes to sweat, remember that just because it isn’t visible doesn’t mean it isn’t there,” advises Alsulaiman. If possible, line dry your white sheets and pillowcases once a week to once every ten days.”
How to whiten white clothes that have yellowed
White clothing turns yellow over time due to dirt, sweat, and deodorant chemicals, according to Westervelt.
Grant says OxyClean works well. The product’s instructions instruct us to soak yellowed fabrics in a solution for eight hours or more. After pretreatment, we wash the items as usual, adding distilled white vinegar, and voila! The whites are white again.”