How To Wash Whites and Keep them Looking Their Best
6 min read
When it comes to laundry, one of the most frustrating things that can happen is when you notice that your fresh, crisp, white sheets aren’t so fresh, crisp, and white anymore.
How does that happen? Is there any way to prevent it? We’ll dive into how to wash your white clothes, sheets, and more to keep them looking new.
Do You Really Have To Wash Things Separately?
The first step to keeping your white clothes/sheets/towels white is to separate them from other colored items. Over 50% of Americans claim that they always separate their laundry before washing it. Are you part of the majority?
Even if you are, do you believe that it really makes a difference, or is it just something you grew up getting told to do? Whichever camp you’re in, one thing is for sure: it is important to wash your brights, whites, and darks separately.
Darker clothes contain dye that can tint your whites or even change the color completely. We’ve all seen a funny TV show or movie with a scene where the dreaded red sock makes its way into a load of white clothes, only to turn the whole load pink. Unfortunately, many people will end up experiencing that in real life, too.
There are a few other reasons why it’s good to separate your clothes when you do laundry:
- Different materials require different care. It’s important to look at the wash tag instructions to learn how to properly care for your items.
- Items with zippers, clasps, and other sharp pieces can ruin your more delicate items.
How To Wash Whites Properly
We now know that the first step is to separate your laundry. What comes next? Believe it or not, there are quite a few things to keep in mind when it comes to handling white laundry properly. Don’t worry; we’re here with you every step of the way (if you get too overwhelmed, home is just a phone call away).
Use Good Detergent
If you retain nothing else from this tutorial, remember this: the way you approach each step of your laundry process will make a difference in the final result. Every action will cause a different reaction, and if your goal is fresh, clean, bright laundry, you’ll have to be very intentional. The next thing to focus on is the type and amount of laundry detergent you use.
To keep your whites looking their whitest, consider using a detergent with an optical brightener in it. Truthfully, this doesn’t make your clothes any whiter. It simply tricks our eyes. Optical brighteners convert ultraviolet light (which is invisible) into visible light, which makes the fabric reflect more visible light and, in turn, appear brighter.
This works especially well on whites because the extra light is on the blue side of the spectrum, which causes it to take any yellow present in the fabric and makes it look more white.
You should also be careful of how much detergent you use. Most washers have fill lines, but they typically overestimate the amount of detergent needed for a load of wash. If you use too much, it could stay on your laundry and attract dirt, which is the opposite of the desired result.
Avoid Overfilling Your Washer
If you have a lot of white laundry to do, it can feel much easier to try and shove every last piece into the washing machine. Unfortunately, that’s not the best idea. Your washing machine needs some space to let water and detergent flow.
Otherwise, it could just redistribute dirt back onto your laundry, leaving it lifeless and dull. That second load may take more time, but it will be worth it in the end.
Don’t Let Stains Linger
Stains on white clothes, sheets, or towels are a laundry nightmare. But somehow, white just seems to attract all major stains more than any other color. You may want to bury your stained items in your laundry basket and deal with them at a later time, but it is important to treat the stain and wash the piece as soon as possible to avoid letting it set in.
Read the instructions on your stained item and then decide what stain remover is the best choice. Bleach can work on whites in some situations, but other times it could make it worse. Liquid solutions are typically better than powders.
Other options for removing stains include:
- Hydrogen peroxide
- White vinegar
- Baking soda
- Oxygen bleach
- Castile soap
Another tip for stained items is to make sure you take a second look at them before you put them in the dryer. Check to see if the stain came out. If not, pull it aside and try again. Stains are almost impossible to remove once they’ve gone through the dryer.
Pay Attention to the Water Temperature and Type
Warm or hot water are the best options for cleaning whites. This helps remove everything that causes the item to get dirty, smelly, and discolored. As we’ve said with most other tips we’re sharing, be sure to check out the washing instructions before throwing something into ultra-hot water.
You should also pay attention to the type of water at your house or laundromat. Do you have hard water? Water with extra iron in it? Soft water? You may have to purchase different laundry detergents or additives to mitigate the impact of these different water types. In the case of hard water, getting a water softener is your best bet for keeping your whites nice.
Avoid Fabric Softener
Don’t you hate when you find out that you don’t need a product you’ve been using faithfully? Hopefully, we’re not about to crush your spirit when we tell you that fabric softener isn’t really that good for your laundry—especially your white laundry.
Fabric softener can leave residue on your fabrics. Instead, for white laundry, try using white vinegar instead. Most laundry pros swear by it as a way to make sure all the detergent is removed from your fabric during the rinse cycle.
Dry With Care
Most white laundry should be dried on low. Overdrying can cause the fabric to dull. If you’re up for an extra step, drying white laundry outside can be really helpful! The UV rays from the sun can help make the clothes appear brighter (the same way that an optical brightening detergent can, but all-natural).
Be Smart With Storage
Allowing airflow in your white laundry is important, so try to avoid storing whites in plastic tubs or containers with lids. Instead, store them in your closet, or see if cotton garment bags work well for you.
Laundry Tips Your Parents Didn’t Teach You (Or Maybe They Did and You Just Forgot)
Now that we’ve covered how to wash your white laundry, we have a few more tips that will help when it comes time to do any type of laundry again.
- You don’t need to wash your jeans as much as you think you do. Seriously. Washing jeans often just reduces their quality and shrinks them. Throw them in the wash every six weeks or so, and you’ll be good to go. If that seems crazy to you, try another crazy hack—throw them in the freezer.
- You do need to clean your sheets at least once a week. If you’re not into that kind of commitment, check out our Miracle Sheets. They’re Infused with natural silver, which prevents up to 99.9% of bacterial growth. You still need to wash them, just not nearly as often.
- Avoid putting sweaters in the dryer. Instead, air dry them to preserve their shape and avoid shrinking.
- Clean your washing machine regularly. Even the thing that does the cleaning needs to be cleaned! Try to run a cleaning cycle on your washer about every three months. Simply run an empty load with hot water and white vinegar.
- Empty the lint trap in your dryer every time you use it. It can be easy to forget this step, but it can become a real fire hazard if you let it get too full. Once a year, check out your filter and hose and clean those too.
Keeping it Crisp and Clean
Your mom wasn’t lying to you when she gave you instructions on how to wash your clothes! A lot of the things we tend to think are overrated when it comes to laundry are actually the things that make a big difference in maintaining the quality of our clothes, sheets, and more.
Remember to separate your laundry, pay attention to your detergent type, and avoid fabric softener. At the end of the day, all whites will fade eventually. Taking small steps now can help push that day farther into the future.
- Separating Laundry in the US | Statista
- Why You Need to Separate Whites and Colors in Laundry| Apartment Therapy
- Optical Brighteners | Britannica