How to get yellowing out of white cotton

Written by angela lafollette Google
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How to get yellowing out of white cotton
Soft water helps keep white laundry fresh and bright. (Maria Teijeiro/Lifesize/Getty Images)

White cotton clothing often becomes yellow and discoloured as a result of being washed in hard water. Hard water contains a concentration of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. The mineral build-up can make it difficult to clean the clothes properly because soil can cling more easily. Softening the water helps prevent yellow dinginess from occurring, and chlorine bleach eliminates the discolouration. A phosphate or heavy-duty detergent also helps eliminate hard water stains. Following these steps should help bring yellowed cotton back to a bright white.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Water softening powder or water conditioner
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Phosphate washing powder

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  1. 1

    Read the care tag on the clothing to determine the hottest water setting it can handle. Set the washing machine to warm or hot water.

  2. 2

    Add 1 cup of water-softening powder or water conditioner to the water in the washing machine as the machine is filling. Add 1 cup of chlorine bleach to help remove the yellow colour. Allow the washer to fill with water. Stop the cycle once the washer fills.

  3. 3

    Add four times the normal amount of phosphate washing powder to the washing machine. Add the white cotton clothing to the washing machine.

  4. 4

    Allow the white clothes to soak for 12 hours or overnight.

  5. 5

    Set the washing machine to complete the cycle without agitating the clothes so the water drains out.

  6. 6

    Wash the white clothing in the washing machine, running it through its standard wash and rinse cycles. Do not use detergent. Instead, use 1 cup of the water softener and 1 cup of chlorine bleach.

  7. 7

    Remove the clothing from the machine immediately. Dry the clothing by hanging it on a clothesline. Drying in the dryer may cause the yellow stains to become permanent.

  8. 8

    Repeat this laundering process until the yellow discolouration is gone.

Tips and warnings

  • Add the water softener according to the package directions for best results.
  • Don't use more than 1/2 cup of chlorine bleach if you have a front-loading washing machine.

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