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Picture it: It’s happy hour. You’ve got patio seating on a gorgeous summer day, you’re sipping on a margarita, and wearing an iconic white button-down. You’re vibing and having a great time, then all of a sudden, the chips and salsa you’re enjoying accidentally land on your crisp white shirt. Dread sets in as you wipe the salsa away, leaving behind a small stain. You come home, toss your shirt in with the rest of your laundry, and after sending it through the washer and dryer, the stubborn stain still remains. And not only that, but you also notice your beloved button-down is now slightly yellow. Disappointment sets in and you vow never to wear white again, and your poor white button-down stays hidden in the back of your closet all summer long. What a tragedy!
Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but as someone who used to feel major anxiety while eating, walking around, and simply existing in white clothing, I understand the dilemma and fear of not getting these pieces dirty. The good news is that you don’t have to be afraid of wearing white this summer if you know how to properly take care of your white garments. Your clothing is meant to be worn and loved, and what’s more chic than an all-white set? Laundry just so happens to be the one chore I actually like doing, so here’s how to wash white clothes so they stay light and bright all season long.
1. Read Your Garment’s Care Label
Maybe this is a no-brainer, but every piece in your closet has a care label on it, and that label will tell you everything you need to know about how to take care of your garment. If you’ve ever had questions like what temperature the water should be, what heat setting the dryer should be on, or if you should dry clean a piece instead of washing it at home, the care label’s got you. I recently read the label of one of my favorite summer crewneck sweatshirts and learned that I should be washing it inside out. Who knew!
2. Wash Your Whites Separately
I’ve definitely been guilty of tossing all of my clothes into the washer in order to run a full load, and unfortunately, that’s a great way to make your whites a bit dingy. Most clothing isn’t colorfast, which means the color will fade over time in the wash. The dye will end up bleeding onto your whites, turning them a slightly different color. To avoid this mishap, save your colors for another load and wash your whites separately.
3. Wash On The Warmest Water Setting You Can
Your care label will tell you how hot your water can be for each garment, and always go as warm as your piece allows. Warmer water is great for disinfecting and breaking down stains—perfect for whites. Just be sure to not go too hot or else your pieces may shrink. No one likes the feeling of putting on pants that are all of a sudden an inch shorter than they used to be, so be sure to read the care label carefully!
4. Use a Bleach Alternative Detergent
To be honest, I don’t use bleach in my laundry. I’ve heard horror stories of bleach staining clothes and it just seems kind of intense, so I’ve avoided it. A bleach alternative, however, is way less scary. It’s totally safe and won’t irritate your skin like bleach can. I use a bleach alternative detergent for all my all-white loads—my favorite is Tide and it definitely helps keep my whites nice and bright! Bonus: It’s also safe on colors, so there’s no need to worry about tossing a two- or three-toned white garment in with the rest of your whites as long as the other colors aren’t super bright.
5. Add a Laundry Boost
I’m all for going the extra mile when it’s as easy as adding one more step to an already simple routine, and that’s what a laundry boost does for my all-white load. While they’re not always necessary, adding a boost will help your detergent be more effective, and in this case, it will help brighten your whites even more. Laundry boosts come in a few different forms like liquid, beads, or powder, and you add them into your washer like you would a detergent, simple as that. OxiClean White Revive is my go-to laundry booster, and I’ve tried both the powder as well as the liquid. I prefer the liquid simply because my detergent is liquid as well, but they both work great and do the same thing.
6. Pre-treat Stains
Let’s face it, stains are inevitable. Even if you’re able to avoid food or grass stains, the summer heat will lead you to sweat, which may cause your whites to yellow. Don’t worry, though! In my opinion, there’s nothing more satisfying than getting out a stain, and the quicker you act, the better.
I keep a Tide pen in my purse and car for stain removal on the go, and in addition to being a laundry boost, OxiClean White Revive is also a stain remover, so it’s a 2-for-1. Instead of tossing your stained item in the washer and hoping for the best, you can pour a little OxiClean directly on the stain and wait 10 minutes before you start your load. Or for tougher stains (think spilled red wine), you can soak your garment in water and OxiClean for a few hours and then wash as you normally would. More of a DIY girl? Household items like baking soda and dish soap work wonders on stains. If you find the armpit area of your white shirts are turning yellow, try pouring a little bit of hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, and baking soda directly on the stain. Scrub it in with a clean toothbrush or scrub brush, then let your garment sit for an hour or two or even overnight. Then, launder as usual!