Many of the most iconic and cherished fashion items are white. Think of the ever-green plain white T-shirt and the classic white button up-shirt. White pieces have been a staple in our wardrobes for a century, and when it comes to underwear, they have dominated the scene for even longer, and it’s easy to see why.
White fashion items are easy to match as they go with both bold and neutral colors. If they have some texture or a few interesting details, it’s even better. Take our Venus Blouse in white: a classic foundation layer and a feminine show-stopper in its own right that you can pair with pretty much anything.
But every rose has its thorn, including the white ones (pun intended). In fact, if handled poorly, whites can get a bit dis-coloured, yellowed or greyish. All it takes to ruin your white clothes is for a coloured item to make its way into a load of whites undetected or for the dryer to be put on the wrong setting inadvertently.
Despite this, keeping your whites looking clean and bright is much easier than it seems. If you follow these easy tips, your white clothes will look just as they did the day you bought them. Ready to bring your favourite white top back to its former gleaming glory? Let’s get washing then!
Use the right amount of soap
The amount of detergent we use is just as significant as the type we choose.
Soaps and detergents clean surfaces thanks to the molecules that compose them: surfactants. They are made of a water-loving (hydrophilic) head and a grease-loving (hydrophobic) tail.
When you use detergents to clean your hands or your clothes, the head is attracted by the water and the tail by the grease. This tension lifts the dirt away from the surface, trapping it and breaking it down into tiny pieces that are then washed away by the water.
If you use too little detergent, there simply won’t be enough surfactants to lift all the grime and keep it from redepositing on the fabric before the drain cycle. Using too much detergent instead could leave stains or residue on clothes, which is especially bad for white garments.
So remember to be mindful of the amount of detergent you use, and don’t forget to put your clothes in the washing machine inside out and rinse them well.
Try lemon juice or white vinegar to refresh your whites
Do you know what white vinegar and lemon juice have in common? They are both acidic liquids. Thanks to acetic acid and citric acid, respectively, they are great, natural, and inexpensive bleaching agents.
If you want to get rid of the grey or yellow hues that ruined your white clothes, soak them in the hottest water that’s safe for the fabric and mix in half a cup of lemon juice or white vinegar depending on your preference. After a few hours, your whites will be brighter and softer. Wash them normally and enjoy!
Dry the clothes outdoors if possible
As we all know, clothes dryers are far from being the greenest appliances, as they spin and produce heat. Drying a load in the dryer once a week for a year in the UK would emit 141.842 kg CO2e. Not so earth-friendly!
Besides, the tumble dryer isn’t white clothes best friend either because the direct, excessive heat can scorch or singe your whites, causing yellowing. Therefore, especially if you have a terrace or a garden, you may want to consider air-drying your white clothes instead. The sun with its ultraviolet rays will brighten and whiten your clothes, keeping them in tip-top shape.
If you have to use the dryer, keep it on the lowest heat setting and, as always, follow the drying instructions on the label. Your clothes will thank you!
Avoid overloading the washer
Overstuffing the machine may be tempting, but you may end up with grey, dull-looking whites. That’s because when the washer is overloaded, a lot of dirt and grime is released, but there isn’t enough space between the clothes for the water to flush it away. This way, the dirt gets promptly redeposited on the items, leaving the fabrics all dingy. To be safe, make sure that there is enough room for the clothes to move around, and since you’re there, don’t forget to double-check for unwanted non-white pieces.
Keep them dry
Humidity is white clothes’ archnemesis, as it can cause severe yellowing. Storing them away only once they are fully dry is the way to go. Placing white garments in plastic bags that stop the airflow should also be avoided to steer clear of yellowing. To keep out-of-season white garments from collecting dust and dirt, you can put them in cotton bags or cover them with packaging paper.
Taking good care of our clothes will extend their life, reducing their environmental impact. Even little everyday actions like these can have a significant effect over a lifetime, helping us to live an eco-friendlier life by shifting away from that fast-fashion mindset and making the most of the clothes we buy.
- The Woron Team