How to Keep Whites White

Five Methods:Keeping White Fabrics SeparatedPre-Treating StainsWashing White ClothesRinsing WhitesDealing with Yellowed White Fabric

Keeping whites white is one of the most difficult parts of washing white laundry. However, there are certain steps that you can take to keep white clothes white. Read the following tips to learn how to brighten white clothes.

Method 1
Keeping White Fabrics Separated

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    Separate your white clothes and fabrics from your dark clothes before doing the laundry. Washing white and dark clothes, towels, sheets, etc., together can result in color transfer. Even if the color doesn't change, white items can appear dingier after coming into contact with darker colors. White clothes or fabrics also tend to pick up dark fluff and look unclean.
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    Separate by fabric type. Fabric types need to be taken into consideration when creating separate washing piles. Even whites need to be further separated as follows:
    • Acetates and acrylics wash together
    • Linen and cotton wash together
    • Wool washes alone
    • Delicates should be washed by hand.

Method 2
Pre-Treating Stains

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    Pre-treat any stains. Pre-treating stains on clothes or other fabric items before you wash them will ensure that the stain is removed and isn't "set" by the washing process. There are several pre-treating agents on the market, including enzyme detergents and oxygen bleach. But if you want to remove stains using a common household item, reach for dish washing liquid or clear shampoo and apply it directly to the stain.
    • You can even use a bit of your normal liquid laundry detergent. Scrub the stain away using a new toothbrush.
    • Always read the garment label before adding any stain remover.
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    Soak the stained garments in hot water after pre-treatment. This can help loosen up the components of the stain.
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    If, after a wash, the stain remains, go through the pre-treatment process again before drying your clothes. Drying clothes with stains on them can make stains next-to-impossible to remove.

Method 3
Washing White Clothes

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    Wash white clothes in hot water. Provided the fabric can handle hot water, this is the best setting for white clothes.
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    Use enough soap or detergent to wash dirt away.
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    Add a whitener or brightener to brighten the whites. You can use proprietary whiteners, or use your own from these suggestions: lemon juice; white, distilled vinegar; or, 3-percent hydrogen peroxide.
    • Pouring 1/2 cup of lemon juice or 1 cup of white, distilled vinegar or 3-percent hydrogen peroxide into your washing machine with your clothes can keep your white clothes white.
    • If you use lemon juice, dry your clothes under sunlight, as ultraviolet rays can also help brighten whites.
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    Consider adding a laundry booster to your wash. Adding washing soda, oxygen bleach or borax will increase the efficacy of your detergent. These boosters work best with soft water.
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    Use a color remover on your white clothes if they discolor, become dull or look dingy.
    • Color removers can remove the unwanted colors from whites. If you don't want to purchase a color remover, mix boiling water with oxygen bleach and let the clothes soak in the mixture for the same effect.
    • If colors bleed during the wash, do not allow the garments or items to dry. Add color removers to the wash and do the whole wash again. Once the wash has dried, the color transfer tends to set.

Method 4
Rinsing Whites

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    Make sure that clothes are completely rinsed. This removes all traces of dirt or grimy water that can dull the look of whites.
    • Select an appropriate load size. The clothes or other items should be able to move freely around in the water.
    • Clean your washing machine regularly to ensure that your white clothes are actually being cleaned and that any remaining dirt in the washing machine isn't being transferred onto them.
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    Add bleach to your clothes as a last resort. Bleach will keep clothes white and can act as a disinfectant. Make sure to use the appropriate amount of bleach as recommended on the packaging or else you may damage your clothes.
    • Be aware that bleach has been linked to numerous health problems.

Method 5
Dealing with Yellowed White Fabric

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    Wash and rinse the fabric or garment as usual.
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    Rinse the fabric in a little vinegar and water.
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    Hang in the bright sunlight to dry.


  • Adding water softener to your laundry cycle might improve the appearance of white clothes. Using hard water to wash white clothes can result in mineral transfer and deposits getting onto your clothes. A 1/2 cup of white, distilled vinegar can act as a natural water softener.
  • For best results, pre-treat a stain as soon as it presents.


  • Be aware that using chlorine bleach on a stain can result in the yellowing of your clothes' fabrics. Determine the best stain treatment for your particular clothes by considering the fabrics and colors of your garments.
  • Storing white clothes in places that are not exposed to light can make them appear dingy.

Things You'll Need

  • White, distilled vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • 3-percent hydrogen peroxide
  • Borax
  • Enzyme detergent
  • Oxygen bleach
  • Dish washing liquid
  • Washing soda

Article Info

Categories: Laundry