We all love our white clothes, don’t we! In an ideal situation, we’d want to keep them sparkling white forever - safe in our wardrobe, even once they have been washed multiple times. Our white clothes lose their shine and sparkle, if proper care isn’t given to them. It is also quite a task to get stains out of white clothes, especially the yellowness that sets in. Even after using home remedies such as vinegar and lemon juice, we have been disappointed as they have failed to help us whiten white clothes that have yellowed.
Of course, a brand-new white garment looks a whole lot brighter than the one that has been washed a couple of times and has started to look yellow. But, don’t worry, with these few simple laundry and storage hacks, and by using the right products, our whites will keep shining bright, no matter how often we wear and wash them!
Here are the steps that need to be followed to prevent yellowing of white clothes:
1. Proper Storage
We often don’t pay too much attention to this, but proper storage is the key to ensuring our whites last longer, and don’t yellow due to accidental causes while in storage. Here are a few steps that we can personally vouch for:
Storing white clothes in a cool, dry place that is free from all mildew causing moisture.
If the white clothes are to be stored for an extended period of time, we need to ensure they are washed and dried well so that the stains, if any, don’t settle in.
The best way to store white garments is in between good-quality acid-free paper, in plastic storage boxes, bags or baskets. We definitely think we should avoid using cardboard boxes as their colour might run on to white clothes.
If hanging clothes in a wardrobe, we recommend not stacking or hanging white garments next to dark wash jeans, as the dye could transfer between clothes. Leave sufficient space in between white clothes on hangers to allow the clothes to breathe.
2. Wash White Clothes Frequently
Do you watch home care / laundry content on Instagram?
We ensure that white clothes are washed after one or two wears. We all know our whites are precious, so the general trend is to wear them several times before actually dropping them into our laundry basket. But, we recommend that when it comes to white clothes, they should be washed after every one or two wears. They may not smell bad or there may be no visible stains, but body oils and perspiration do build up, which can cause the fabric to turn yellow over time.
3. Ensure White Clothes are Separated During Washing
As a basic laundry rule, let’s remember to always sort our whites separately when we start the washing process. Even if there aren’t enough white clothes to run an all-white washing cycle, we recommend segregating them from other garments. Once there are enough, you can clean them together.
4. Pre-soak the Garments to Get Brighter Whites
Whether it is a white formal shirt worn to the office or a white t-shirt worn to the gym, we’ve learnt that pre-soaking is always a good idea, before actually washing them with detergent. We’ve found that pre-soaking clothes helps to loosen stains that make it so much easier to remove them. We recommend using a good fabric whitener such as Rin Ala Fabric Whitener during this time to remove any kind of stains. Just use 3 ½ capfuls of Rin Ala Fabric Whitener mixed in half a bucket of water to soak your whites for 30 minutes before washing. It is more than enough to remove tough stains.
In case there are still some tougher stains that need extra attention, we recommend soaking the stained part of the white garment in a more concentrated form of the solution mentioned above. You could mix 3 ½ cups of Rin Ala Fabric Whitener in a mug full of water and soak only the stained part in the bleach solution for about 20 minutes before rinsing off.
However, we do recommend checking the garment label to know whether it is suitable for bleaching or not or do a patch test on a small inconspicuous part of the garment, just to be on the safe side.
Pro tip: Pay special attention to the areas like shirt underarms, collars, areas around buttons, or any food stains that are on the garment.
5. Use Water at Warmer Than Usual Temperatures
Now that the pre-soaking is over, we recommend rinsing out the clothes – they are now ready to be washed. The general thumb rule is to use the hottest temperature of water that the material can take, but it also varies from fabric to fabric. We know from experience that delicate linens need a lower wash temperature than more robust cotton bed sheets, so we recommend choosing an average water temperature that is warmer than usual.
6. Check on the Whites After They are Washed
Most of us automatically assume that our white garments would be clean once they are through with the whole cycle of washing, and rightly so. However, it is always a good idea to check on the clothes once they are out of the washing bucket. If the stains still persist, we recommend re-treating the area and washing it again before putting it out to dry. There is a risk of the stains settling into our precious whites if this step is ignored. Rest assured, you are not over-washing or damaging the fabric of your favourite whites in any way - it’s just a good idea to be doubly sure that the stains are definitely out!
7. Dry the White Garments in a Bright, Sunny Area
Ultraviolet rays from the sun help to brighten and whiten garments, so choose a nice, sunny day to wash your whites and dry them outside. If a dryer is being used, the best bet would be to run them through a low heat cycle, remove the clothes from the dryer while slightly damp and let them sun-dry the rest of the way.
We all know that prevention is better than cure, so let’s try and understand what causes our white clothes to turn into yellow so that we can do all we can to avoid the trouble in the first place!
What Causes Our White Clothes to Turn Yellow?
1. Improper Washing
Wearing white clothes more than 3 or 4 times before washing them or not checking for stains before storing them away for next usage is the biggest cause of them turning yellow due to ongoing decay as well as invisible chemical reactions. Additionally, we often wash whites together with our coloured garments to save time or avoid an extra wash cycle – this practice needs to be stopped immediately as it is one of the biggest causes of white clothes turning yellow over a period of time.
We all love wearing white clothes in the summer season, but we’ve noticed that they often turn yellow and develop discoloured patches around areas like the underarms, collars, etc. These are also the areas from where we sweat it out the most, so this is inevitable.
3. Frequent Usage of Deodorants
Most of us use deodorants, especially during the summer – but did you know that their frequent use also causes our white clothes to turn yellow over a period of time? This is due to the chemicals in them that mix with our sweat and cause yellowing. We recommend using aluminium-free brands when it comes to deodorants as they are less likely to stain our whites.
4. Decay of Whitening Agents
Many of us are unaware that most clothing manufacturers dye white clothing with whitening agents. There is a possibility that these whitening agents decompose while in storage, which may eventually lead to a yellowish cast on the clothing too.
With these steps being followed for storing and washing our whites, we can keep them looking brighter and brand-new for the longest time, without any fear of them getting yellow or faded.