Laundry Whitening Tips

Updated November 21, 2016

While throwing clothes in the washing machine may seem like second nature to most people, there are a few tips to keeping whites looking white and bright. Over time, white clothes become stained or begin to look dull and dingy. Some basic principles such as separating the whites from colours, using bleach properly and using stain remover products can keep clothes looking newer for longer.

Separate the Wash

White laundry often looks faded or turns somewhat grey with repeated washes. The main reason behind dull whites that were once bright is due to improper sorting, says the Martha Stewart website. Fabric dye molecules from other colours in the wash mix with the water and transfer onto white and light fabrics. Separate all of the white laundry and wash it separately. Apply stain removers to oil, grease, food stains and other stains prior to washing whites. Once a month, wash with a colour remover product to keep white bright and fresh.

Using Bleach

Using chlorine bleach in the proper manner is one of the best ways to keep even worn whites as bright as new. According to the Housekeeping Channel website, the first step to proper bleach usage is to measure one cup of bleach and mix it into a pitcher full of water. Diluting the bleach in water prior to adding it to the laundry helps prevent it from damaging the fabric. Grab an egg timer from the kitchen and start the wash cycle. Add the diluted bleach 5 minutes into the wash cycle. This allows stain fighting ingredients in the detergent to work. Bleach will work in both cold and hot water, however, hot water is best for stain fighting washing powder.

Underarm Stains

According to the Creative Homemaking website, there is no need to throw out white T-shirts when the underarms become stained with deodorant and sweat. Try using palm oil, as you would stain remover, allowing it to sit on the stain for a several minutes. Add about 1 cup of white vinegar to the washer for a large load of laundry or ΒΌ cup for a small load. A trick for deodorant stains is to use Goo Gone, allowing it to sit for a few minutes. Scrub the stain and add more Goo Gone, if necessary. Add bleach or vinegar to the laundry before washing the Goo Gone-treated shirts.


Peroxide can be used as an alternative to bleach and other whitening products, suggests the Thrifty Fun website. Add 1 cup of bleach directly into the wash cycle. For difficult stains such as blood or wine, pretreat them with peroxide prior to throwing them in the washing machine.

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