Are your whites looking a little yellowed? Do they seem dingy, but you can’t quite figure out why?
If you are a faithful bleach user, it is the bleach that is probably the culprit.
Household bleach (sodium hypochlorite) is often used as a laundry booster or whitener. However, its chemical makeup can often make white clothes turn yellow.
So once this happens, how do you get rid of the yellow? Can you get rid of the yellow?
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Making Dingy Clothes Bright White Again
Here are several suggestions to try if you’ve got yellowed or dingy whites:
- Start with lemon juice.
Although I am very willing to pull out the big guns, I like to first start with the remedies that are least harsh. Dilute 1/4 cup of lemon juice with 1 gallon of extremely hot water (boiling, if possible). Soak the yellowed garment in the solution for at least 1-2 hours. Then wring out and allow to dry in the sun. If you aren’t thrilled with your results, move on to the other ideas.
- Try borax.
Borax is readily available at most grocery stores in the laundry aisle. Dissolve 1-2 Tablespoons of Borax in 2 cups of water. and then add to the rinse cycle of your washer. You can also put it in the ‘oxi’ dispenser if your machine has that feature. If possible, dry in the sun. Borax naturally softens hard water, so you could use it as a preventative measure when washing whites in the future.
- Try Iron-Out.
If you have well-water, chances are there is a fairly high iron content in your water. Often this excess iron in the water reacts with the bleach causing the yellowing of the clothes. Iron-Out can be applied using the directions on the bottle. It works to counteract that chemical reaction and return white clothes to their original bright condition. Note that this product should only be used on proven colorfast fabrics.
- Try a laundry bluing agent.
Laundry bluing is an old trick to get yellowed or grayed whites to appear brighter. Bluing adds a very slight trace of blue dye to the fabric, making it appear more white. Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing is a popular brand and their site gives detailed instructions on how to use bluing correctly.
Prevent Whites From Turning Yellow
Thankfully, there are a couple of ways to prevent your whites from turning yellow in the first place:
- Never bleach white clothing that is polyester or a polyester/cotton blend. The chemical reaction between the bleach and the polyester almost always yields a yellowed result.
- Consider a water softener if you have well-water. Decreasing the iron and mineral content of water can greatly lessen the yellowing the bleach can cause.
- Minimize your use of bleach altogether. There are several other ways to get your whites to be whiter.
Do you have problems with whites turning yellow? What do you use to help get them white again?