How to Whiten Clothes

Two Methods:Using Bleach and Other ChemicalsUsing Natural Household Supplies

Do you have yellowing t-shirts, pants or sheets you aren't ready to part with yet? There are a variety of methods you can try to turn them bright white again. Some methods are damaging to delicate fabrics, so be sure to use the one that works best for the item you're whitening. See Step 1 and beyond for instructions on whitening with bleach and other chemicals or using natural household supplies.

Method 1
Using Bleach and Other Chemicals

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    Use chlorine bleach to treat white clothes. Chlorine bleach is a powerful whitener, but it should only be used on white clothes. If you have a patterned or multi-colored item you want to brighten up, use a method aside from chlorine bleach. Here's how to use chlorine bleach:
    • Check the labels of your items to make sure it's safe to use with chlorine bleach
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    • Start your washer with the regular detergent
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    • Add 3/4 cup of chlorine bleach to the water
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    • Add the laundry
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    Use non-chlorine bleach to wash any washable clothing. Non-chlorine bleaches use oxygen or hydrogen peroxide to whiten fabrics. This is a safer bet for fabrics that aren't safe to use with chlorine bleach, because it's gentler. OxyClean, Clorox 2 and other products bleach items without using chlorine. Here's how to use them:
    • Check the labels of your items to make sure it's safe to bleach them with non-chlorine bleach
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    • Make a solution of the non-chlorine bleach product according to the instructions on the bottle
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    • Soak your items in the solution overnight
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    • Wash as usual the next day
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    • Add 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar to the washing machine for enhanced brightening
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    Use non-chlorine bleach for spot treatments. You can also treat smaller stains with non-chlorine bleach or just plain hydrogen peroxide. Try to catch the stain before it dries and sets if you can. Here's an effective stain removal method:
    • Pour the non-chlorine bleach or peroxide on the fresh stain, completely soaking it
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    • Let the item sit in a non-chlorine bleach/water solution overnight
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    • Launder the item as usual the next day
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    Use bluing liquid. This liquid is a combination of ferric ferrocyanide and water. It brightens whites by adding the slightest hint of blue, offsetting that yellowish hue that t-shirts, socks and sheets can take on.
    • Bluing liquid should be mixed with cold water according to the instructions on the bottle. You'll only need 1/4 to 1/8 teaspoon, depending on what type of wash cycle you're using.[1]
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Method 2
Using Natural Household Supplies

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    Use sunshine as a whitener. Wash cotton and linen sheets, tablecloths and other white laundry items. Afterward, allow them to dry in direct sunlight. Hang them on a clothesline or lay them on the lawn to let the sunshine help whiten them. The sun's UV rays will brighten your items right up.
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    Try lemon juice. Add 1/2 cup of lemon juice to the wash cycle, along with your detergent. Lemon is a great natural whitening agent. Be careful though - it can leave bleach marks on colored items. It's best to use lemon juice only on pure white items.
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    Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to your laundry detergent. This is an excellent natural whitener you probably have in your kitchen cabinet. To remove stubborn spots from whites, pretreat the spot by applying a thick paste of baking soda and water.
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    Use borax. Sodium borate, or borax, is a natural mineral that helps break down stains that cause items to yellow. Add 1/2 cup to your washing machine at the beginning of the wash cycle for best effect.[2]
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    Use distilled vinegar. Pour 1 cup of distilled white vinegar into the washer with your regular washing detergent. This is a great way to perk up clothes that are looking a little dingy.

Tips

  • Choose laundry detergents specifically designed for whitening laundry and use them on a regular basis for best results.
  • Wash whites regularly and in cold water to prevent stains from setting in and permanently yellowing your clothes.
  • Always wash white clothes separately. Don't wash coloured ones and whites together. The result will be dull whites.

Warnings

  • Be careful not to mix cleaning chemicals, as it may produce an undesirable outcome and dangerous fumes.
  • Do not use a bluing agent with fabric softener or bleach.
  • Avoid pouring bleach directly onto your clothing as discoloration can occur. Dilute the bleach in water before adding clothes or use your wash machine's bleach dispenser.
  • Never mix bleach and ammonia, or ammonia with a laundry detergent containing bleach.
  • Test whitening products and methods on a hidden area of your clothing to ensure they will not damage the fabric.

Article Info

Categories: Washing Delicates