• Laundry Care

How To Brighten Dingy Whites


Are your white shirts, undies and linens getting dingy and grey. Here's how you can brighten those whites and make them look good as new!


Why Do White Clothes Get Dingy?

First, we need to understand what causes white to become dingy? Most often he primary causes for dingy or greyed whites are:

  • Fabric age

  • Hard water

  • Detergent build-up

  • Fabric softener residue

  • Washing whites with darker clothing

  • Incorrect wash temperature


So what can we do to brighten up whites?

There are two methods we used to brighten dull, dingy whites. One uses chlorine bleach while the other does not.


BLEACH METHOD

This method is for cotton whites such as socks, underwear and other clothes that are bleach-safe—be sure to check the tags!


Cleaning Process:

  1. Set your washing machine’s water temperature to hot. The HOTTEST possible temperature.

  2. Set the wash cycle for “regular/whites.”

  3. Add the recommended amount of laundry detergent for your size load into the empty wash tub, and allow the washer to fill.

  4. When the washer is about ½ full, add the designated amount of bleach for your size load. If you have a bleach dispenser, use it. If not, add the bleach to the wash water BEFORE any clothing is added.

  5. Once the washer is filled, add the clothes. NOTE: Before adding clothes, make sure the detergent is fully dissolved and the bleach has been distributed into the water (the best way to do this is close the lid of the washer for a minute and let the machine agitate the water). This will prevent damage to your clothes.

  6. Let the clothes soak for at least 20 minutes. If you have a “pre soak” cycle on your washer, use it. If not, simply leave the lid up or push the dial back in, this will generally prevent the washer from running.

  7. After the clothes have soaked, run the washer as usual.

  8. Once the entire cycle is complete, you may want to run the rinse cycle again, just to be sure all bleach residue is removed from your clothing.

Prefer to leave the laundry to the pros? We can help!

Click here to learn how.

NON-BLEACH METHOD

This method is intended for machine washable dress shirts, blouses, and other clothes that are NOT bleach safe—again, check the tags! While this method requires a bit more time and effort, it's better for fabrics and can end up being more effective at making whites brighter.


Cleaning Process:

This method requires a bit more time - but, in our experience, results in cleaners clothes. It also causes much less damage to fabrics as no bleach is used. It focuses on pre-washing by soaking items 3 times. Once with dish soap. A second soak with ammonia. And a final soak using white vinegar followed by machine washing the treated items.


Step 1- Soak in Water + DISH SOAP

  1. Check the tags on your clothes to make sure they will tolerate hot water. If not, adjust the water temperature suggested below to suit your clothes.

  2. Fill bucket or sink with hot water and add about 2 tablespoons of dish soap.

  3. Add clothes and allow to soak for 15 minutes.

  4. Drain water and rinse whites with warm water.

Step 2- Soak in Water + AMMONIA

  1. Refill sink (or bucket) with hot water and add about 2 tablespoons of household ammonia.

  2. Add clothes and allow to soak for about 15 minutes.

  3. Drain water and rinse whites with warm water.

Step 3- Soak in Water + VINEGAR

  1. Refill sink (or bucket) with hot water and add about 2 tablespoons of white vinegar.

  2. Add clothes and allow to soak for about 15 minutes.

  3. Drain water and rinse whites in warm water.

Step 4- Machine Wash

  1. Set the water temperature on your washer to hot (again, check the tags on your clothes to make sure hot is okay to use), and set to the appropriate wash cycle for your clothes.

  2. Add recommended amount of laundry detergent for your size load into the empty wash tub, and allow washer to fill.

  3. When the washer is about ½ full, add a scoop of laundry booster.

  4. When the washer is full, add clothes and wash as usual.

  5. When cycle is completely finished, you may want to run the rinse cycle again to make sure all of the bleach residue is removed from clothes

Drying Tip:

Instead of drying your clothes in the dryer, if you have someplace outside you can hang them, hanging them to air dry in the sun will aid in the whitening process.


PLEASE NOTE: The above cleaning method should be safe for most clothing, but there is always a risk of damage or discoloration when treating extremely delicate fabrics or garments.


Additional Tips and Advice

Always check the tags on all clothing before undertaking any of these cleaning methods to make sure your clothes can tolerate the water temperatures, wash cycles and cleaning treatments recommended.


If you routinely have trouble with dingy whites, you may have hard water. Adding a water softening agent to your wash (such as Calgon) may help prevent graying or discolored whites.Ready to be Laundry-Free?


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