|Photo courtesy of In Style.|
Nothing says summer like a crisp white outfit. But keeping those white items bright and impeccably white can be challenging. Here are a few tips for cleaning and maintaining your white clothes.
1. Wear white clothes once and then launder them--even if you think they are not dirty. Learn from my mistake: I wore a dry-clean only white blazer a few times during a particularly hot summer and ended up with major ring around the collar. The dry cleaner couldn’t remove the stain. As a last resort, I pretreated it with bleach and threw it in the washer. Most of the stain came out, but the blazer ended up getting small rips all over it. I ended up ruining an expensive blazer because I was too cheap to take it to the dry cleaner for $7.
2. Pretreat stains with a stain remover. An oxygen-based bleach like OxiClean or Clorox 2 usually works.
3. Separate, separate, separate. Wash your white clothes separately from your dark clothes. In addition, sort your whites further by fabric type. Wash acetates and acrylics together. Linen and cotton can be washed together. Wash wool alone. Wash delicate items by hand.
4. Don’t overload the washer. Detergents loosen and lift dirt from clothes, but they need space for the water to wash it away rather than redeposit it back on your clothes.
5. Wash your whites in the hottest temperature the fabric will take and add a laundry booster, such as borax or oxygen bleach.
6. Don’t use household bleach too often in your wash. Bleach can whiten clothes, but they can also break down fibers and cause yellowing if overused.
7. Use a color remover once a month when whites become dull and dingy.
8. Dry white clothes outside if you can. The UV rays of the sun are a natural bleach to gently whiten and brighten clothes.
9. Avoid storing whites in cardboard boxes or plastic. That prevents them from getting oxygen and can therefore turn them yellow. Instead, hang them on plastic hangers with cotton or muslin pillowcases over them.
10. Adjust your habits when wearing white clothes. Don’t rest your wrists on counters, which can ultimately make the cuffs of your white shirt dirty. Stop leaning against walls in public places. Look before you sit.
Bonus Tip: Understand that your white clothes won’t stay pristinely white forever. Manufacturers treat white fabrics with brighteners to boost whiteness. They eventually wash out and lose their bright whiteness forever. So your white clothes will have to be replaced.