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Washing Whites

The truth about whites is that "whites" is a very general term. Your whites may range from delicate silks to cotton sheets and towels. The one thing that holds them in a common connection is your desire for them to be brilliantly white. Delicates are so, well, delicate that they've earned a category of their own. For tips on how to wash them, refer to the tip entitled, "Washing Delicates." For everything else, these following tips will be useful.

The beginning or the end of your white laundry problems may reside in your choice of a washer. If you happen to be scoping out a new washing machine, be sure to get one with a second rinse cycle. That second run through the water will do wonders for your whites. If you are using a single rinse washer, consider turning the dial back on your white load and letting it rinse again.

In general your water temperature for whites should be warm or hot. The more heavy duty the material, the hotter the water should be.

The two struggles associated with whites are (1) maintaining whites, and (2) restoring whites. If you are working to maintain your clothes' whiteness, try any of these solutions:

  • Add a handful of baking soda to your wash in addition to your selected brand of detergent. This will boost the freshness and brightness of your laundry.
  • If you live in an area with hard water, use water softener. If you don't have any handy, try adding salt to your wash. This will help preserve and protect your clothes' whiteness.

If your white clothing is already getting grey and dingy with use, try one of these solutions to restore whiteness:

  • In the place of laundry detergent, add up to a cup of dishwasher detergent to your whites. (Make sure that you use dishwasher detergent and not liquid dish soap, you don't want to lose your laundry room in an explosion of suds!) This process should only be used on heavy duty clothing, towels, and sheets. Dish detergent is harsh and will wear away at your clothes if it is used on delicates or if it used for a prolonged amount of time. This should be a one-time boost to clothing whiteness. Be aware that dishwashing detergent contains bleach, so don't use it in combination with anything that will react badly to bleach.
  • Another option is to allow your whites to soak in bleach before washing them. To do this, allow your white wash to fill with water, then lift the washer lid or stop the cycle. Add the amount of bleach recommended for your load size, and let it soak for 20 minutes. After letting your whites soak, begin the wash again and let it run as usual.

If you do not have any bleach, try this substitute procedure:

Soak your whites in large sink with 2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap (dawn or joy). Soak 15 min, rinse and drain. Soak whites again with 2 tablespoons of ammonia, soak 15 min, rinse and drain. Soak with 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, soak 15 min, rinse and drain. Wash as usual in washer then line dry if you can; the sun has whitening effects. When rinsing, be sure that your rinse is thorough. This should be used on a one-time basis. Regularly washing your clothes this way will shorten their life.

Related Tips:

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