Melissa was kind enough to send in this question about how to have whiter whites:
My biggest problem with laundry is yellowed and dingy “whites”. I use Clorox bleach in every white load plus detergent and softener and wash in hot water. I am at a loss for what else to do, HELP PLEASE!
I’m so glad Melissa asked, because dingy whites seem to be a common problem.
Let me start by saying that if you have ‘hard’ water or well water, this is going to be a tougher problem for you. Well water (which is typically ‘hard’ water) has much more sediment in it than water purified by a city or town. And because of that, it is tremendously more difficult to get whites to not be dingy. You can certainly try and benefit from the following tips, but you might have to put more effort into the whitening! I wanted to give you a warning so you’re not immediately frustrated if your initial efforts don’t bring you great results.
For the typical load of whites (typical meaning white tshirts, underwear, socks, etc) I use the following steps to maintain super bright white clothes:
- Wash the white load on hot.
Occasionally I will wash the load on warm, depending upon exactly what clothes are in the load. I know that there are tons of people that believe in using only cold water for washing clothes, and I certainly understand their reasoning! However, I am certain that the cleanest possible clothes are obtained through: agitation, a moderate wash cycle and warm or hot water. I have found that white clothes are brighter when washed on hot because the maximum possible amount of dirt, grime and sweat are removed. A build-up of those can lead to dingy whites and they can become hard to remove in time. A load of whites will not appear bright if the actual fibers of the clothes are not exceptionally clean.
And typically, white clothes are made of white cotton which can withstand hot water and agitation. There are always exceptions to this, so make sure to read your fabric label carefully!
- Always add a scoop of Oxi Clean.
A scoop of Oxi Clean (sodium percarbonate) goes into every white load at our house without fail. My machine has a special ‘oxi’ dispenser, but you can still have superior results if you have a traditional top-loader or a basic front-loader.
If you have a top-loader, start the water in the basin of the machine and then add the desired amount of Oxi Clean. Allow it to dissolve before filling the machine with laundry. If you have a front-loader, pour a scoop of Oxi Clean in the machine and then place your clothes on top. Close the door and start the washer as you normally would. Consistently using Oxi Clean maintains the bright, white appearance of our clothes.
- If possible, dry your white clothes in the sunshine.
I’ve talked a lot about the bleaching properties of sunshine around here lately. But it’s worth repeating: use the free bleaching properties of the sun since it’s so readily available! A combination of Oxi Clean and sunshine lends a beautiful, bright result.
- Utilize the features of your washing machine.
Some machines are equipped to deal with stains without using any commercial whitening products. Some washers are equipped with a ‘stain removal’ setting. It uses a longer wash cycle and extremely hot water to obtain whitening results. The only substance you add is detergent. If your machine offers specific stain removal settings, then by all means use them! While those setting are effective at removing specific stains (such as salsa or tea), the settings are also very effective at maintaining bright clothes.
Some people prefer to use the whitening power of baking soda. I’ve tried this multiple times, but I can’t seem to obtain the bright results I’m looking for. If you have any baking soda whitening tricks, make sure to leave those in the comments!
What are your tricks for whitening clothes and keeping them white?