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how to wash white clothes

White clothes are more prone to becoming discolored and yellowed than their lighter and darker cousins.

As a result, it can be relatively challenging to keep white clothing fresh, clean, and white.

Fortunately, by knowing how to sort and wash white clothes correctly, you can keep your whites looking bright and clean, wash after wash.

Here's how to wash white clothes from start to a bright, clean finish.

Wash White Clothes Separately

Separate whites from other colors. No matter what, this is the number one rule.

You should always wash white clothes separately from other garments to prevent colors transferring to and staining them. 

Make sure to separate any whites with colors on them as well, to keep them from bleeding onto all-white clothes.

Even older clothes can transfer color, or just make the white clothes look gray and dingy.

Sort your whites by fabric type to wash them at different temperatures.

Put all of your sturdy fabrics, jeans, towels, cottons, and clothes containing manmade fibers into one pile.

Then, put all your delicate fabrics, including silk, lingerie, Spandex, and activewear, into a different pile.

Fabric type will also determine what laundry setting your clothes should be washed on. 

Sorting your whites this way allows you to wash your clothes at the hottest temperature they can tolerate without being damaged. 

If you aren't sure how to sort an item, check its tag. 

Tags and clothing labels provide washing instructions for water temperature, washing cycle, and whether or not you can use bleach. 

Many of us don't have enough white clothes to run an all-white load. So we mix white shirts in with other garments. 

That allows other clothes to bleed onto white clothes and cause staining.

While it may be tempting to throw light colors in with your whites, or even light grays, stick to white alone.

Stain Removal

Try to treat stains as soon as they occur. Older stains can dry and permanently mark white clothes. 

For more substantial staining, it's best to pre-treat with a solution of oxygen bleach or a little detergent. 

Rub in and leave on for 10 - 30 minutes. (Always read the label and product information before use.)

Use a stain removal product according to the type of stain - there are many available for stains that are oil-based, from blood, food, or drink, so check what treatment is best for the job.

Drying a stained white garment can make any stains harder to remove, so if your white clothes aren't clean after the first wash, treat them again while they're still wet. 

Keep Wash Loads Small

Load the washer, but don't pack it. This will allow items to tumble freely in the water, giving the soil the best potential to disperse into the water. 

Are your T-shirts looking gray and ding? You might be overstuffing the machine. Filling the washer to the brim with clothes is tempting, but it won't get you the cleanest results.

When the washer is overloaded, there isn't enough space between items for the water to flush away the soil, and it redeposits on fabrics, leaving them looking dull. 

Use the Right Amount of Laundry Detergent

Always measure your detergent precisely. Underusing and even overusing can leave white fabrics gray. 

When dirt is released into the wash water, one of the laundry detergent's key jobs is to keep it from redepositing on the fabric. 

If you don't use enough detergent, you can't create that effect, which holds the dirt until the drain cycle. 

At the same time, don't use more detergent than what the instructions recommend. Use the laundry detergent cap to add the precise amount of detergent to your load based on packaging instructions.

Using excess detergent can lead to a filmy buildup that attracts more dirt and is more noticeable on white clothing. Chose a detergent with bleach alternative to keep whites bright. 

Wash in the Hottest Water Safe for the Fabrics

Wash whites in the warmest water possible. Use hot water - or the warmest water possible recommended for the fabric - to help remove body oils and grime that can dull the material. 

Hot water is more effective at killing germs and bacteria, as well as preventing white clothes from fading. 

Wash your heavily soiled clothes in hot water, your sturdy fabrics and moderately stained clothes in warm water, and your delicate fabrics in cold water.

Make adjustments to the water temperature as needed based on care labels to prevent clothes from shrinking or becoming misshapen. For instance, clothing made from nylon, spandex, lycra, and certain cotton blends may shrink in hot water.

Hot water lifts debris and disinfects. To keep your whites white, use the hottest setting your washer (and the fabric) will allow.

The exception to this rule is, of course, when delicate fabrics such as silk, linen, and wool come into play.

Dry On Low

Drying white clothing and fabrics outside can make a big difference in their brightness.

The ultraviolet rays from the sun will help to freshen and whiten the garments.

If drying outside is not available to you, use the dryer on a low heat setting. 

Remove clothes from the dryer while slightly damp and air dry on a drying rack.

Be careful not to over dry, as excessive heat can cause stains and residual soil to yellow. 

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