Restoring Yellowed Apparel
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated March 13, 2023)
We have all experienced the frustration of pulling our favorite white linens and clothing out of the laundry and finding that they are no longer white. Oh, the pain and anguish of pulling out Great Aunt Agnes' favorite white blanket and finding it not white, but rather a yellowish tea color. What are you going to do? Well, never fear. Here are some great ways that you can restore yellowed apparel and other items.
- Lemon juice. Perfect for smaller items, use lemon juice to wet the fabric and then allow the items to sit in the sun till dry. Once the items are dry, continue to allow the clothing or other items to remain in the sunlight for the remainder of the day. The sunlight will help to fade or eliminate the discoloration.
- Color remover. There are commercial color removers (such as Yellow Out) which work wonders at removing iron (or rust) buildup in white clothing. Simply purchase these types of products from your local grocery store and follow the directions as indicated on the back of the box.
- Oxalic acid and sodium perborate. Dip the affected clothes into a mixture of water and oxalic acid (no more than ten grams of acid per liter of water). Allow the clothing to soak for half an hour. Then wash the items in your washing machine for a full was cycle as normal, followed by another half hour dipping into a mixture made from water and sodium perborate (again, no more than ten grams per liter of water). Wash once again in a regular wash cycle and check the color of your clothes. If your clothes are still not as white as they should be, then wash the clothes once again normally—you should be done.
- Dyeing. Probably the cheapest and one of the easiest methods available to rectify the problem of yellowed apparel would be to dye it. By making your own tie-dyed t-shirts and clothing, or simply dyeing the items a solid color, you can have a great time while also bringing new life to old clothing items. While this method may not "restore" yellowed apparel, it is definitely one of the easier options available to you.
- Bleach. Bleach can be one of the trickiest methods available for restoring yellowed apparel to its proper whiteness. Do not use bleach by itself. Rather, create a mixture of one part bleach to three parts water and bring it to a boil. Soak the clothing in this boiling mixture for roughly ten minutes and then remove the clothes. Allow the clothing to sit in the sunlight and dry completely before putting away. If the clothing still has an odor of bleach, send them through a normal wash cycle.
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