Whites are difficult!
There are a few simple rules that should be followed to keep white clothes looking bright and clean. And, if they happen to get a bit dull, grey or yellowed, you can learn how to restore the brightness to white washable clothes. Since they’re prone to discoloration, whites should be washed after every wear and should not be mixed with darker colors in the washing machine. Chlorine bleach can be helpful, but it’s not the only answer for cleaning white clothing there are several other techniques to try.
01. Separate Whites
The first step in keeping white clothes white is to sort dirty laundry carefully. Washing white clothes separately will prevent color bleeding and transfer from colored clothes that leaves white fabric looking dull.
02. Avoid Overloading
Filling the washer to the brim with clothes is tempting, but it won’t get you the cleanest results. When the washer is overloaded, there isn’t enough space between items for the water to flush away the soil.
03. Choose right detergent
Select a detergent that contains optical brighteners. These brighteners work by tricking the eye, they bend UV light waves to showcase blue light while minimizing the yellow light you see making fabrics appear whiter. Reduce the amount of laundry detergent you’re using. Excess detergent can remain in the fibers and attract soil.
04. Promptly Treat Stains
Follow stain removal guidelines for fabric types and types of stains. Chlorine bleach can work, but it may turn clothing yellow if overused. An oxygen-based bleach (such as OxiClean, Nellie’s All Natural Oxygen Brightener or OXO Brite) is usually safer and can be applied to all washable fabrics except wool and silk.
05. Wash With Warmest Water Possible
Use hot water or the warmest water possible recommended for the fabric to help remove body oils and grime that can dull the material. Wash on a normal or heavy-duty setting, depending on the severity of the stains or discoloration.
06. Rinse With Vinegar
Skip commercial fabric softeners that can leave residue on white fabrics. Instead, add 1 cup distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle to ensure that all detergent is stripped away from fabrics.
07. Check Clothes
Check garments one by one before placing them in the dryer. If stains remain, retreat the spots and wash again. Never dry a garment on high heat that still has a stain as it can become permanent.
Drying white clothing and fabrics outside can make a big difference in their brightness. The ultraviolet rays from the sun will help to freshen and whiten the garments. If drying outside is not available to you, dry with an automatic dryer on a lower heat setting. Remove clothes from the dryer while slightly damp and air dry on a drying rack. Be careful not to over dry, as excessive heat can cause stains and residual soil to yellow.
Freshly washed clothes are less likely to discolor, so plan on washing and thoroughly drying your whites before packing them away. Storing white garments in plastic tubs will trap the airflow and may contribute to yellowing and discoloration. Instead, wrap each piece in white, acid-free tissue paper and place inside an archival cardboard storage box. You can also include cedar chips to help keep bugs away and silica gel packets to soak up any additional moisture. Do not store the box in a basement or attic – opt for a temperature-controlled room with low humidity.
Check recommended iron settings for your garment and avoid using heat that is too high. An iron that is too hot can scorch your clothing and leave marks that are very difficult (if not impossible) to remove. Keep the setting on a lower temperature and use steam or water as needed to loosen wrinkles.