Should you wash white clothes in hot or cold water? How do you remove stains on white clothes? What is the best way to wash whites?
If you've ever pulled a pink shirt out of the washing machine when a white one went in, you know that washing whites can seem complicated now and then.
The bottom line is simply this: by following basic sorting techniques, matching the right laundry products and water temperature to each load, you can make such spotty moments disappear.
Not too difficult, right? Here's how to clean white clothes - from regular-wear clothes like shirts and pants to towels, socks and bed sheets - safely from start to a bright, clean finish.
A quick look at how washing whites by fabric shakes out:
But for the rinse cycle, cold water is excellent for all types and colors of loads. Another benefit: A cold water rinse can reduce the energy used per load by up to one-third and minimize wrinkling in synthetic or permanent-press fabrics.
The wash temperature for laundry is important: it will have a direct affect on how clean your whites get and is key to keeping the fabrics looking like they did when you bought them.
Wash white clothes in hot water if they're made of sturdy fabrics - such as towels, sheets, socks, and sweatshirts. Check the care label if you're unsure. (A hot water wash is 130 degrees F. and above; 54 degrees C.)
Washing clothes in hot water is essential for those items that are heavily soiled, or are prone to mold and mildew growth (such as towels and wash cloths.)
Using bleach in laundry loads is key to removing stains on white clothes. The chlorine in bleach helps remove stains by converting soils into colorless, soluble particles which are easily removed by the laundry detergent, and then carried away in the wash water.
Bleach is also the best way to get white clothes white again, and helps remove stubborn, older stains.
Wash white clothes in warm water if they're moderately soiled, are lined, and if they're made of synthetic fibers or natural and synthetic blends. (Warm water wash temperature is 90 degrees F.; 32 degrees C.)
The easiest way to do this is to choose the permanent press cycle. What is a permanent press wash cycle?
It is a setting that will wash clothes in warm water and rinse them in cool water, maintaining a mild agitation and spin. A warm machine wash will also help relax creases, while the slower spin cycle prevents new wrinkles from forming.
It's gentler than a regular cycle, making it a good choice for synthetic fibers like polyester, rayon, and knits. Because it doesn't use hot water, a permanent press cycle will also reduce shrinking and color fading.
Choose the cold wash cycle for delicate whites, such as sheer blouses, shirts, undergarments, and swimsuits. (A cold machine 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.)
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.