How to Wash White Cotton Clothing

Updated November 21, 2016

Keeping white cotton clothing white can be challenging but it's not impossible to do. Most whites turn dull or grey because they have not been properly sorted. It's easy to miss a garment when sorting but this is just the oversight that can ruin bright white cotton. Once other colours dull or compromise white cotton, it's increasingly difficult to restore the original bright white. Armed with the right knowledge, you can save your white cotton and keep it looking as bright as it was the day you bought it.

Separate whites from other colours and always wash them separately. Take the time to do this properly and sort through all pieces of clothing. This is the most important thing you can do to keep white cotton bright.

Select a detergent with enzymes or a bleach alternative and use the maximum amount recommended for a load of laundry.

Add a booster to your wash. Oxygen cleansers, borax and washing soda help fabrics retain whiteness.

Soak heavily soiled white fabric in an enzyme or oxygen bleach detergent. After soaking, wash them separately from other whites.

Pretreat any soiled areas caused by perspiration with liquid detergent or shampoo. Rub detergent into fabric gently and use a clean toothbrush to rub out stain.

Treat stains as they happen. If you're planning on doing a load of laundry later, be sure to treat the stain immediately when it occurs. Foregoing immediate stain treatment weakens and discolours fabric, according to

Check fabric labels to determine the highest temperature of water you can wash your items in. Wash whites at the hottest temperature the items can tolerate.

Inspect your whites before putting them in the dryer. Look to see if stains have been removed. If the stain is still there, wash the garment again. If you miss a stain and it is dried, it will become almost impossible to remove.


Increasing the temperature of the water by ten degrees can enhance the cleaning, according to Cotton, Inc. Don't use too much detergent, as its residue can be like a magnet for dirt, reports The Avoid using bleach to brighten whites. Bleach actually breaks down brighteners and can make white fabric look dull and dingy. If you must use it, use it sparingly.

Things You'll Need

  • Washing powder with enzymes or a bleach alternative
  • Detergent Booster
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