How to wash white clothes
Keeping your white shirts, duvets, dresses or socks looking bright as marble is hard to achieve. Over time, white fabrics tend to yellow or grey as sweat, dirt, and dust leave their marks. But there are ways to keep your whites looking fresher for longer. We’ll show you how to wash whites using your machine, by hand, and with bleach.
How to properly wash white clothes
When washing your regular whites such as cotton shirts and towels or sheets, it’s best to separate your washes by fabric types. Here’s how to wash white clothes in a washing machine:
- Pretreat stains. Don’t worry – everyone gets stains on their whites from time to time. The areas are best pre-treated using special stain removers like Zout® Stain Remover or vinegar. Make sure that wet stains are first fully absorbed (e.g. by sprinkling salt on the stain) before adding the item to the wash with other unstained whites.
- Wash your white clothes made of cotton and polyester together at 120 degrees or more. Be sure to first check the label of that favorite blouse of yours to make sure it can be washed that hot! A good laundry detergent will do the job. Hang to dry or throw it in the dryer. Make sure the stain is completely gone before throwing it in the dryer as heat can set the stain.
- Towels, socks, and duvets can all go into the same wash. Use a good laundry detergent and wash them at the hottest setting according to the care labels. Towels are usually safe to tumble dry.
- Your delicate whites may need a little bit of extra care. First, check that any silk blouses and bras are machine-washable by reading the care label. If they are, follow the instructions. You may need to opt for a cold wash. Some delicates are suitable for hand-wash only.
Washing whites with colors
We’ve all been there: you open the washing machine to find that your favorite white T-shirt is now a peculiar pink. Even with our best intentions, colored socks can find their way into the whites basket and wreak havoc. Therefore, you should avoid washing whites with colors. But what about mixed-whites?
- Firstly, take your time when putting whites into the machine. If you’re rushing the preparation of a load, chances of a colored item (no matter how small) making its way into the machine are higher.
- If you’re washing white clothes that also have some color in them, it can be worth testing the items one-by-one in a hot water bath to see if any of the colors come off. If they’ve been washed many times or are color-safe, you should be fine and can wash the whites together.
- It’s best not to wash mixed-whites together with pure white fabrics to avoid discoloration.
- If you need to remove a stain from a mixed-white piece of clothing, you can try a spot treatment. Start by using a special cleaner to get rid of the stain. If this doesn’t work, you may need to bleach the area. Use a cotton swab to avoid bleaching the rest of the garment.
Get whites white again
After a while, some white laundry may end up with a greyish or yellowish hue. Don’t worry if this happens! Luckily, there are some great tips and tools around to get white clothes bright again.
- Vinegar or baking soda. Soaking whites in warm water with half a cup of vinegar or a cup of baking soda can brighten up tired looking fabrics and give them that fresh look again. When using vinegar it’s best to do a spot check on an inside seam of the fabric to make sure it’s suitable. Avoid soaking fabric in vinegar for more than 10 minutes. Pre-soaks with baking soda can be left overnight before washing the clothes in a regular whites run the next day.
- Oxygen-based bleach. These types of bleach are usually safer on fabric than chlorine bleach, which can damage fabric if used often. Oxygen-based bleach can be found in most supermarkets (e.g. OXO, OxiClean, etc.). They’re added to the wash and are suitable for most types of fabrics apart from silk or wool. Follow the instructions on the packaging and check the care labels before bleaching your whites. Pre-soaking your whites in a water bath with bleach is a great way to banish yellow tones.
- Extra tip: You can use oxygen bleach to help remedy a red sock accident. Make sure you remove the offending item from the washer. Then add the bleach to the whites-turned-pink (or another color) and run a normal wash. Hang to dry.