Are your white shirts, tank tops, towel, sheets, or pants yellowed, dingy, or dull? It sucks, right?
The worst thing about it is when you have made an effort to give these clothes special attention as you wash them to help them retain their color, but they still keep losing their shine.
You will be surprised to learn that this happens all the time. Stains from sweat and dirt compounded with many washes can make your white clothes a lot less white.
Fortunately, that is not something you will have to worry about anymore. Here are proven tricks to make your clothes perfectly white.
Take note that the whitening method you use will depend on the material and the kind of staining you are trying to remove. So, stains caused by sweat will require a different approach to stains caused by other clothes bleeding their colors onto your white clothes.
How To Whiten White Clothes That Have Yellowed
Clothes that have yellowed tend to respond very well to enzyme presoaks. You should add the enzyme presoaks to the laundry detergent to make it work more effectively.
Enzyme-based stain removers can get rid of grass, berries, blood, odors, oil, dirt, cosmetics, and countless other stains from your clothes. These substances can also whiten clothes that have greyed.
How To Whiten Clothes With Bleach
When it comes to bleaches, your options are practically endless. You can use chlorine bleach, oxygen bleach, or hydrogen peroxide to eliminate stains through a process called oxidation.
Bleaches make the stains colorless by altering them chemically. In contrast, detergents remove the stains.
1. How To Whiten Clothes Using Chlorine Bleach
Chlorine bleaches should only be used on whites or for bleachable colors. Non-chlorine bleaches like hydrogen peroxide and oxygen bleach are less harsh and safer for white clothes that have other colors on them.
When using any bleach, you can pay special attention to the areas with stains.
However, make sure you don't use excess chlorine bleach, as it can cause yellowing on nylon, polyester, and microfibers in addition to weakening the fibers. Basically, if you can still smell the chlorine on the clothes, you should give them another rinse.
Ideally, you should use chlorine bleach on cotton fabrics, such as towels and socks.
2. Whitening Clothes With Oxygen Bleach
Oxygen bleach is effective on polyester and manmade fibers in addition to natural fibers such as cotton and linen. Many bleaches of this nature come with clear instructions on how to use them.
Typically, you should soak your clothes overnight for at least 8 hours before washing them normally, preferably using a compound like vinegar.
Ensure that you don't use oxygen bleach on silk, wool, or leather products.
3. Whiten Clothes Using Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a great laundry whitener, and you should put a cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide into the detergent or bleach dispenser before cleaning your clothes as usual.
When mixed into a paste with baking soda, it is great at getting rid of pit stains. You should cover such stains with a layer of about a quarter of an inch of this paste, then leave the fabric alone for about 30 to 60 minutes before removing the residue with a soft brush.
How To Whiten Clothes Without Bleach
Although bleach is one of the best ways to whiten clothes, it is not recommended for some clothes and stains. For instance, if your white garment has some colored parts, bleaching might not be the best option.
Bleaches have also been known to cause potential health hazards and skin issues, and many people are trying to avoid them today. Here are some ways to brighten clothes without using bleach.
1. How To Whiten Clothes Bluing Liquid
Bluing liquid is made using Prussian blue (ferric ferrocyanide). This liquid gives the white fabric a subtle blue hue while making the white sparkle.
2. How To Whiten Clothes With Lemon Juice
You can use lemon juice to make your clothes whiter and fresher. You should add a cup of lemon juice to the washing machine together with your detergent, then wash the clothes as usual.
Presoaking the clothes with 1 to 2 sliced lemons in hot water for about an hour or so before washing them, also called a citrus acid soak, might also work. You can let the clothes sit in the basin overnight if you want them to look brighter when you are done laundering them.
3. Sodium Borate (Borax)
Borax is a naturally occurring mineral that removes stains, brightens clothes, and deodorizes them. This compound also breaks down the minerals in the water you are using to wash your white clothes to ensure the detergent does a better job.
Borax can even remove coffee and sweat stains.
4. How To White Clothes With Baking Soda
Baking soda is also called sodium bicarbonate, and it softens water, which means it makes the detergent you are using more effective at cleaning your white clothes. The substance is also great at getting rid of odors in addition to making your clothes whiter.
You should pour about half a cup of baking soda into water, then run a normal laundry cycle.
Washing soda (sodium carbonate) is similar to baking soda, although it is more alkaline and likely to cause skin irritation. These two compounds are great detergent boosters. All you need is about a quarter of a cup of washing or baking soda in addition to your regular detergent.
5. Using Dishwashing Soap
Your kitchen might have the solution to whiter clothes. Many dishwashing soaps and detergents can whiten clothes when mixed with regular laundry detergents before running them through a regular wash cycle.
6. How To Whiten Clothes With Vinegar
Just for the record, we are talking about white distilled vinegar in this case. This compound is a great fabric softener and deodorizer.
You will need to add a quarter a cup of vinegar into your washing machine during the last rinse cycle. The vinegar can get rid of the excess soap residue.
Note that vinegar and chlorine bleach should not be mixed as they will produce toxic fumes. Additionally, don't use vinegar on silk, rayon, or acetate clothing.
Otherwise, vinegar is also a great fabric softener and it can get rid of rust and mildew smells. You can also soak the clothes for a few hours in warm water with a cup of white vinegar if you need better results.
7. Use Color Removers
Compounds that have the ability to remove color from fabric are also effective at getting rid of stains. So, the yellowish color in your white clothes can disappear with the help of these compounds, and make sure your white clothes are sparkling once more.
8. Get Some Aspirin
Yellowed clothes can be a headache, but that's not why you need an aspirin. This drug can get rid of the yellow color in your white clothes.
For this whitening solution to work, you should crush and dissolve five white aspirin pills in water and then put them in your clothes. After that, you should let the clothes soak for some time before putting them in the washer.
You should avoid colored aspirin tablets as they will give your clothes a colorful hue.
9. Using The Sun
Besides the bleaches and other methods, you can also hang out your white clothes on the lines for a greater brightening effect. The best part is that drying your clothes in the sun also saves on your electricity bill.
The sun is very effective at removing dullness from clothes without the need for fabric brighteners.
10. Meat Tenderizer
Meat tenderizers are great at getting rid of proteins in stains such as sweat since they have enzymes such as bromelain. The best part is that they can do this without ruining the garment.
While using this method, you should dampen the areas that have the stains and sprinkle some meat tenderizer on the stains to cover them before leaving the garment for 1 hour. After that, you can wash the clothes in a washing machine as usual.
Mistakes That Make Your Clothes Less White
Bleaching and other methods discussed above might help whiten your clothes, but it is better to ensure that your whites don't yellow or grey in the first place. Some options include washing the white clothes separately and using the recommended amount of detergent as you wash them.
Also, you can put your white clothes through a simple and detergent-free cycle using a small amount of ammonia. The ammonia gets rid of the accumulated residue.
Similarly, drying white clothes on low heat can keep them from turning yellow.
White and bright clothes should be washed less frequently as well to help them retain their color. Using cold water is also a good idea, as well as turning them inside out before washing them to avoid the tear and wear that dulls them over time.
Separating the clothes before washing them is also very important, and most people don't do it properly. Even light-colored clothes can stain white clothes.
Another trick is to ensure that your clothes are always completely dry before you store them, and it is also important to always handle them with clean and dry hands. Things like lotion can also discolor white clothes.
Storing the clothes in places with extreme temperatures such as basements and garages can also cause them to yellow.
What If Nothing Works?
If you have tried every method you can think of and the fabric is not as white as you would like it to be, you can try to repeat the process that seems to work a couple of times or use a greater concentration of the whitening agent.
Otherwise, you also have the option of dying the fabric to give it another color. After all, white is the hardest color to keep bright in clothes.