7 Smart Tips To Keep Your White Clothes From Turning Yellow in your Closet

Have your white clothes obtained a yellowish hue over time? Have you ever wondered what you could be doing wrong? Washing clothes might sound like an easy task; however, there are many factors you should take into consideration when preparing your laundry. Shall I wash different cloth types in a load? What detergent to use? How can I bleach my white clothes? Should I wash them in hot or cold water? How to remove hard stains, like foundation? Should I apply a stain remover before washing? 

All these questions may arise when you wash your clothes. But when it comes to cleaning your white clothing, there are more to consider. White clothes are usually delicate fabrics that need special attention before and after washing to maintain their bright colour. They need whitening agents and very good rinsing to avoid yellowing. Thus, what should you do to keep your clothes white?

Read on our guide to find out tips on how to keep your clothes from turning yellow!

White clothes on hangers natural light

What causes yellowing of white clothes?

Clothes don’t turn yellow on their own. There are some factors and human interference that make them yellow. So, if you are aware of those factors, maybe you’ll be able to maintain that clean white colour on your clothes for longer.

Reason 1: Chlorine Bleach 

I’m sure you’ve known from your grandmas and mums that bleach is the perfect cleaning and disinfecting detergent. And thus, you use it too. People use it to clean their washing machine, remove mould from bathrooms, and in white clothes. However, too much of it can make your white clothing yellow, especially if your whites are synthetic, nylon or polyester. When this product comes in contact with these materials, it discolours them and turns them yellow, their original colour. 

Reason 2: The sun

The sun can discolour clothes because of its ultraviolet rays. The frequent exposure of clothes to the sun causes changes in their colour. They fade away. The same happens to the whites, even if they’re made of natural fibres, like cotton or linen. The combination of washing your whites with too much bleach and then hanging them in the sun to dry turns them yellow

Reason 3: Detergent or fabric softener overuse

If you think that using too much detergent, will better wash your clothes, or using too much softener, will make your clothes softer, then you’re mistaken. Overusing these products can turn your clothes grey or yellow. And if you use a tumble dryer, then the yellow result is inevitable. Overusing detergent leaves residues onto the fibres, and while drying your whites in the dryer, the high temperature somehow bakes the residue causing changes in the colour. 

Reason 4: Environmental factors

The greasy steam during cooking, cigarette smoke or even the exhaust gas can cause changes in the whites’ colour and turn them yellow. 

Reason 5: Deodorant

The most frequent spot on white t-shirts to turn yellow is the underarm. That’s happening due to the body oils reaction with the deodorant you use. 

Reason 6: Storage

The place you store your clothes, or better, the material from which it is made of is one extra cause for the yellow colour on your whites. Storing them in cardboard boxes or wooden shelves turns them yellow due to the acid reactions.

Yellow stains on white t-shirt

How to make my yellowish clothes white again?

If your white laundry has turned yellow, don’t worry! There are several DIY and not tips to bring back its shiny white colour!

Technic 1: Lemon juice

You might have heard before about the amazing properties of the lemon. So, it’s time to put them into action. What you’ll need:

  • ¼ cup of lemon juice
  • 1 gallon boiling water

Now, follow the steps below: 

  1. Dilute lemon juice into the boiling water.
  2. Put the white fabric into the solution.
  3. Let it soak for at least 1-2 hours.
  4. Wring it and dry it in the sun. 

Technic 2: Bluing 

Bluing is a laundry detergent that can help brighten your clothes by adding a blue “dye” on the fabric and neutralizes the yellowish. Add some to the wash or rinse cycle and see your yellowed clothes get back their bright white! Just remember always to read carefully and follow the instructions written in the packaging. 

Technic 3: Borax

This product is an agent used in many household cleaning and laundry products, including hand soaps and laundry boosters. It also can soften hard water. You can find it at almost all grocery stores. So to make your whites brighter, you’re going to need:

  • A small bowl
  • 1-2 tablespoons of Borax
  • 2 cups of water

Then, the steps you’ll need to follow are:

  1. In a small bowl add 2 cups of water and 1-2 tablespoons of Borax. Stir very well until it dissolves. 
  2. Add the solution to the rinse cycle of your machine. If there’s the “oxi” dispenser, then put the solution there. 
  3. Finally, dry your laundry out in the sun.

 Technic 4: White vinegar

We couldn’t leave out the white vinegar, the ultra-natural cleaning and disinfecting ingredient. Here’s what you’ll need to do: 

  • A bucket
  • Water
  • ½ cup of white vinegar
  • ½ cup of salt

Once you are ready, follow the steps below: 

  1. Fill the bucket with water and add ½ cup of vinegar and ½ cup of salt. 
  2. Put the clothes in the bucket with the solution.
  3. Stir for 30 minutes.
  4. Then, wash your clothes in the washer as usual. 

Technic 5: Oxygen bleach

This is a cleaning agent that whitens and brightens your whites without damaging the fibres as chlorine does. You can use it combined with other washing detergents, or you can just use it alone.

Ready? Set, go: 

  1. Fill the basin with water and add a tablespoon of oxygen bleach. 
  2. Put in your white garment. 
  3. Let it soak for 8 hours or if it’s possible let it sit overnight.
  4. The next day, wash it to the suggested hottest water. 

Technic 6: The sun

The sun, due to its ultraviolet rays helps to whiten the clothes. So, why don’t you take advantage of the sun? Hang your white and light coloured clothes outside in the sun to dry as long as you haven’t washed them with chlorine.

Technic 7: A colour remover

Colour removers are formulated to remove dyes and bring back the garment to its original colour. If you want to use a colour remover, always read the instructions on the package carefully.

Generally, you’ll need:

  • A basin
  • A sachet of the colour remover
  •  6 litres hot water (the hottest the fabric care label suggests)

Then, you’ll need to do: 

  1. Fill the basin with water.
  2. Dissolve the colour remover.
  3. Soak the cloth and stir.
  4. Rinse the cloth in warm water very well and then wash as usual. 

Note:  Don’t use the colour remover along with other detergents.

Technic 8: Chlorine

We may have said that chlorine is responsible for the yellow tint on your clothing; however, if it’s used on the right amount, it can turn them bright white again. Use it mostly with cotton fabrics that have become yellow because of storage. To get the best results, dilute one cup of chlorine with warm water before adding it to the washer.

Extra tip: If you’re using an automatic dispenser, it will add bleach to the wash cycle needed. 

Woman on laundry machine taking out white clothes

How to prevent clothes from yellowing

Before you end up looking for ways to get rid of the yellowish and bring back the white colour on laundry, here are the 7 easy tips you can start doing today:

1. Change your storage habits

Before storing your clothes, be sure they’re clean and completely dry. The place where you’re going to keep them should be cool and dry. Avoid storing them in basements and garages where there’s too much moisture. What’s more, choose cast polypropylene plastic boxes or archival storage ones to put your clothes in. 

2. Wash your all-whites separately from other clothes

Washing your whites mixed with coloured clothes, can turn them grey, yellow or make them lose their brightness. So, stop mixing up your laundry. Always wash white clothes separately. Even if you don’t have a full load of whites, it’s better to run a half load. 

Use a detergent with a bleach alternative

Using an alternative detergent will keep the bright white on your clothes. Just make sure you use the maximum amount recommended depending on the size of the load.

Don’t use a fabric softener

Unfortunately, softeners might leave residue on the fabric resulting in the yellowish of your white. So, if you want to prevent your clothes from turning yellow, then stop using this product.

Pretreat stains

Before putting your whites into the washing machine, check them for any stains. For sweat stains or other greasy ones, scrub the stain using a clean toothbrush and a liquid detergent, a dishwashing liquid or even a colourless shampoo. If there are food stains or yellow stains on a white shirt, just apply undiluted liquid oxygen bleach on the stain and then wash it immediately. 

Clean your washing machine regularly

If you believe that you need to clean your machine with the excuse that it uses water and detergent, you’re making a big mistake. Washing machines need regular cleaning, at least every three months, to be clean of dirt and bacteria. Thus, involve your devices cleaning in your cleaning routine; otherwise, you won’t get clean clothes. 

Soak before washing your extra soiled garments

Did you wear your favourite white t-shirt to play football and now it’s covered with soil? Don’t worry! You can wear it again, being like new. Before you put it in the washer, cover it with oxygen bleach and then wash it separately from the rest of the laundry. 

White clothes on hanging line in nature

Keeping your whites in good condition and with the right white colour can now be a walk in the park. It might not have been prior to this post, but at this point, it can be. Just be careful of how you store them, what kind of detergent you use and how much of it when you wash them. These three points will keep them as bright and white as the first time you wore them! Enjoy your whites all-white!

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