How to Wash White Clothes: Preventing Discoloration

Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Jaymantri

Wondering how to prevent discoloration when washing white clothes? These tips and tricks will teach you how to wash white clothes properly in order to keep them nice and bright! 

If washed the wrong way, bright white garments can start to look a bit gray after just a few washes. This is a result of small particles of dirt getting stuck in the textiles during the washing process. If there isn’t enough detergent, the dirt will not run off with the rinse water but will stick to the garments.

Colored garments that end up in the machine when washing white clothes can also be responsible for the grayish hue. 

Washing White Clothes: Things to Consider

washing white clothes
Hanging white laundry outside will allow the sun to bleach it (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Skitterphoto)

Here is how to wash white clothes properly and ensure your whites stay white!

  • Always wash your white laundry separately: Sort your clothes before washing and make sure you don’t put colored and dark textiles in the machine with your white laundry. Pre-treat really dirty clothing by hand or consider washing it separately.
  • Choose the right detergent: It is best to use a powdered detergent as opposed to liquid. When washing white clothes, liquid products don’t wash out as well, which can contribute to the graying of clothes. Additionally, they contain more surfactants and preservatives and are not recommended from an ecological point of view. 
  • Measure out the correct amount of detergent: On the packaging of the detergents, you will find instructions on the amount needed, which depends on the hardness of the water, the amount of laundry, and how dirty the laundry is. Follow these instructions. 
  • Additional bleaching can occur when you wash white clothes, bed linen, towels, and textiles made of cotton or linen on warm. Wash textiles other than cotton and linen on cold to avoid bleaching. Consider washing white laundry on cold, which saves energy. Follow the care instructions on the label of the respective textile.
  • On nice sunny days, you can dry your laundry outside. Not only does this save energy, but sunlight slightly bleaches the laundry keeping it nice and white.

Note: Many conventional detergents not only pollute our waters, but pose potential health risks. This is because they contain petroleum-based surfactants, problematic fragrances and preservatives. Consider picking out a new organic detergent using the EWG’s list: brands like Attitude, biokleen, Fit, or Seventh Generation.

How to Wash White Clothes: Household Remedies and Other Tricks 

washing white clothes
Be sure to follow the instructions on the clothing labels for best results (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Karolina Grabowska )

In order to prevent additional graying or to bleach grayed laundry back to white, there are various tricks and household remedies:

  • Lemon juice is acidic and acts as a natural bleaching agent. When washing white clothes, add a lemon (cut into slices) into a large pot of boiling water. Allow the clothes to soak overnight before washing. If you don’t have lemons handy, you can use citric acid.
  • Mix together one part distilled white vinegar to six parts warm water in a large tub or bucket. Add white clothing and stir it around, ensuring all parts of the clothing are covered. Leave in the mixture overnight before washing.
  • Hydrogen peroxide is commonly found in first aid kits. It’s a mild bleaching agent that can be used to brighten whites and remove stains. Simply add one cup to the bleach dispenser section of your washing machine when washing white clothes.
  • Adding half a cup of baking soda to your load is said to boost colors and brighten whites. Place the baking soda directly to the drum to ensure it dissolves completely.
  • If necessary, try using oxygen-based bleach, which is a bit gentler than its chlorine-based alternative. When washing white clothes, allow it to soak in the bleach mixture overnight first. Follow instructions on the box for the water to bleach ratio.

This article was translated from German by Karen Stankiewicz. You can read the original here: Weiße Wäsche waschen: Temperatur, Waschmittel und Tipps gegen Grauschleier

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