how to wash white clothes

How to wash white clothes? The basic cleaning routine for whites is pretty straightforward:

  • Washing whites with colors is always a no-no;
  • Use a powder laundry detergent with bleach for all whites except patterned whites;
  • The correct temperature to wash whites is the maximum temperature the fabric can tolerate;
  • Dry white delicates on low heat, or hang outside to dry.

Not too difficult, right? Here's how to wash whites - from regular-wear clothes like shirts and pants to towels, socks and bed sheets - safely from start to a bright, clean finish.

sorting secrets for success

Of course you'll start by separating white clothes from light and dark clothes. 

From there, further separate whites by wash temperature - hot, warm, or cold. Washing in the correct temperature is the best way to get whites white again.

Sort into three piles for washing as follows: 

  • hot water washing for sturdy fabrics like white towels, bed sheets, socks and sweatshirts;
  • warm water for regular clothes like white cotton shirts, rayon blouses, and white jeans;
  • cold water for delicate items like sheer blouses, shirts, undergarments, and swimsuits.

wash white towels, sheets, socks, and sweatshirts in hot water

Gather your sturdier white clothes such as towels, sheets, socks, and sweatshirts that can tolerate hot water washing. Check the care label if you're unsure. (A hot water wash is 130 degrees F. and above; 54 degrees C.)

Because sheets and towels are heavily used, they tend to get dirty easily. You'll need a wash temperature that is hot enough to fully clean stained white clothes.

Washing whites with bleach and a powder laundry detergent is the best way to clean and whiten whites,  as well as to remove tough stains without damaging the fabrics.

The exception here: skip a bleach-containing laundry detergent and instead use a detergent without bleach for your patterned whites.

Washing whites with bleach helps remove stains by converting soils into colorless, soluble particles which are easily removed by detergents, then carried away in the wash water.

Bleach can also brighten and whiten dingy clothes and help remove stubborn, older stains. Dry these item on high heat.

wash regular clothes like white cotton shirts, rayon blouses and white jeans in warm water

You can wash all your warm water whites, such as cotton shirts, rayon blouses and white jeans, together. (Warm water wash temperature is 90 degrees F.; 32 degrees C.)

Use a laundry detergent with bleach alternative, which doesn't contain any chlorine bleach so it is safe for all washable fabrics, and is designed to keep white clothes white.

Dry the white cottons on high; synthetics on medium and low. You can put them all together in the dryer as well, but be sure to check the load regularly and remove synthetics (which dry faster) as soon as they are done.

wash white delicates like sheer blouses, shirts, undergarments, and swimsuits in cold water

You'll want to wash white clothes in cold water if they're delicate, such as sheer blouses, shirts, undergarments, and swimsuits. (Cold water wash temperature is 80 degrees F.; 27 degrees C.)

Be sure to read the care label on delicate fabrics to check whether the manufacturer suggests machine washing. (Otherwise, you'll need to wash these items by hand to be safe.) 

Use a gentle laundry detergent without additives.

Wash sheer whites in your machine's delicate or gentle cycle. Dry delicates in the machine on a low setting - or lay flat to dry.

If possible, hang or place white delicates in the sun. It will help keep your delicates as white as possible.

› How to Wash White Clothes


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