How to Wash White Clothes: Keep them Vibrant!

Keep your clothes bright and white by following our step-by-step instructions on how to wash white clothes.

How to Wash White Clothes

Hot Wash

Sort your laundry so that you always wash your whites with other whites. Fix any stains on your white clothes before putting them into the wash. Put your garment into the washing machine and add laundry detergent for whites. Avoid overloading the machine and use the hot water setting if the garment’s care label allows for it. Line dry the garment in the sunlight to use the sun’s ultraviolet light to renew and brighten the white in your garment. 

This is How to Wash White Clothes: Keep them Vibrant!

White clothes are the most fun to wear when they are brand new, and then as usual, they start to lose their brightness, as well as collect stains and dirt marks. 

Our article will teach you: how to wash white clothes in the washing machine; how to make clothes white again; and how to remove stains from white clothing.

Using hot water in the washing machine is the best way to clean whites in the wash, however, not all fabrics are meant to be washed in hot water, so make sure to check the care label first. 

By boiling lemons and letting your white clothing soak in it for an hour or two, you will be able to bring back the brightness of your white clothing to make it look like new again. 

White vinegar is a great substance to use when trying to remove stains from your white clothing. If you act fast and dab the stain with white vinegar or lemon juice you will have a good chance of removing the stain completely.

Continue reading to learn more about everything above as well as all the complete details on how to properly care for your white clothing.

How to Wash White Clothes

Carefully follow the steps below in order to properly machine wash your white clothing.

  1. Check the care label on your clothing before you do any washing. The type of material your garment is made from will dictate which water temperature you are able to wash it with. If you are not sure, then choose the safe option and use cool or cold water.
  2. Sort your clothes first by only washing your white clothing with other garments of the same texture, weight, and color. This is especially important if you are using hot water, since hot water transfers colors from one garment to another more easily.  Remove your dark clothes & colored clothes to wash by themselves.
  3. Fix stains on your white clothes before putting them in the washing machine so that the washing machine doesn’t accidentally make the stain worse or transfer the stain to another garment. Find out how to remove stains from white clothing. 
  4. Add laundry detergent for white clothing such as Tide Brights + Whites or Oxiclean White. Laundry detergent for white clothes will help to revive the bright white color of the garment. 
  5. Avoid overloading the washing machine so that your white clothing has room to mix and move around in the wash. Having ample space in the washing machine allows for the dirt and residue to be lifted and washed away more effectively than if it were completely full. Having space also allows the garment to come into contact with the laundry detergent more easily. 
  6. Adjust the settings on the washing machine to normal or delicate, depending on the type of white garments you are washing. Use hot water if possible, since hot water is the best way to clean and brighten white clothing. If your garment is made from fabric that is shrinkable, or delicate, then wash in cold or cool water. Check the care label on your clothing to make sure you are using the right settings on the washing machine.
  7. Push start and run the wash cycle (how long does a washer take?). 
  8. Once the wash cycle is finished, proceed to check your clothing and dry appropriately. Learn how to dry white clothes below. 

Washing your whites together is a guaranteed way to make your wardrobe last longer. However each piece of clothing needs certain attention, follow our guides on how to wash any piece of clothing.

1. Washing Regular Whites

Hot water does a great job cleaning and restoring white clothing, however not all clothing can be washed with hot water. If you are washing heavy clothing such as jeans, jackets, or sweaters that are made from certain synthetic fibers or cotton polyester  (can you shrink polyester) blends, you may use warm or hot water. Refer to the garment’s care label before washing in hot water. 

2. Washing Delicate Whites

Delicate white clothing items such as garments made from 100% cotton, silk, linen, or wool, should be washed in cold water to avoid damage and shrinkage. Some of these types of garments may even be required by the care label to be hand washed because they are so delicate. In that case, wash in cold to lukewarm water no hotter than 80°F/26°C and use gentle laundry detergent for whites or delicates. 

I can’t preach this enough, hot water will shrink your clothes.

3. Washing White Towels, Socks, Sheets, and Pillowcases

Thicker and more durable white items such as towels and sheets can be washed in hot water as they can handle a much higher level of heat than delicate and even regular white clothing can. Hot water is also beneficial in these cases because it does a better job than cold water at killing bacteria and removing odors. 

How to Dry White Clothes

If you really want to bring back the white in your clothes, then the best way to dry them is to not use a dryer and instead hang them in the sun. Air drying your white clothes, especially in the sun, is the best way to dry after washing. Line dry and dry flat are the simplest ways to use the power of the sun and breeze.

The ultraviolet light that is emitted from the sun helps to brighten and whiten all of your precious white clothing, and is also an environmentally friendly way to finish your laundry. 

If you want to use the dryer to dry your white clothes then follow the steps below.  And read our articles on how to use a dryer properly
& how long does a dryer take.

  1. Adjust the settings on the dryer to tumble dry low. Do not use tumble dry high as high heat can cause discoloration on white clothing. 
  2. Press start and run the tumble dry cycle. 
  3. Remove the garment from the dryer while it is still damp. This prevents over drying of your garment, which can lead to discoloration and stubborn burn stains as well.
  4. Air dry the garment. Hang, lay flat, or line dry in the sun.

How to Make Clothes White Again

Below are 3 easy ways to make your white clothes white again!

1. Use Lemon Juice

Boil 2 to 4 sliced lemons in a large pot of water, and then add your garment to soak in the water for 60 to 90 minutes before machine washing. 

2. Use Baking Soda

Dissolve a cup of baking soda into 4 liters (1 gallon) of warm or hot water and leave your white garment to soak for 6 to 8 hours before placing it in the washing machine.  

3. Use Laundry Detergent

Soak your white clothing in warm water mixed with a quarter cup of detergent powder for 2 to 3 hours before completing the usual machine wash cycle. 

How to Bleach White Clothes

Bleaching should be done carefully. Use gloves and perhaps safety glasses while using bleach. Use your bleach products safely and always read the instructional label before using. 

Do not use bleach too frequently with your white clothing. Bleach can damage, weaken, and warp the fibers on your garments. Bleach is a strong chemical so use with caution!

To use bleach to whiten clothing follow the steps below. 

  1. Fill a basin or container with cold water.
  2. Allow your garment to soak in the water.
  3. Add a few drops of bleach to the water. A few tablespoons of bleach should be fine, but you should also refer to the instructions on the label as well. 
  4. Mix and stir the garment, bleach, and water together. 
  5. Allow the clothing to soak in the mixture for 10 to 12 minutes. 
  6. Remove the garment from the water and rinse under cold water until all the bleach is removed and the water runs clear
  7. Air dry or machine dry on tumble dry low. 

How to Remove Stains from White Clothing

Use the following tips and tricks to help remove stains from your white clothing

  • Lemon juice and white vinegar are both great substances for removing stains from clothes. Dampen a cloth with either lemon juice or white vinegar and dab directly onto the stain to extract it out of the fabric.
  • Let your garment soak in warm water with laundry detergent for 10 to 15 minutes as soon as the stain has occurred, to give yourself the best opportunity possible to remove the stain before it settles in.
  • Use the washing machine to remove stains from white clothing by adding white vinegar to the fabric softener compartment while also using laundry detergent. You can also use laundry capsules and the hot water setting (40°C/104°F) on the washing machine to remove stains from your white garments. 

How to Wash White Clothes FAQ

Wash white clothes only with other whites, preferably that are also similar in weight, texture, and fabric. Use special laundry detergent for whites in the washing machine, and wash with hot water if the item’s care label allows for it. 

Boil 2 to 4 lemons in water and let your white clothing soak in the water for 60 to 90 minutes before putting in the washing machine and washing with detergent for white clothes. 

Hot water works well for white clothing because it can help to remove stains and restore the bright, white color of your clothing. Not all clothing can be washed in hot water however. Some fabrics such as 100% cotton and wool should never be washed in hot water. Wash these whites in cold or lukewarm water instead. Always refer to your garment’s care label before washing. 

The main reason that white clothes turn gray is because they are machine dried on tumble dry high and the overheating causes discoloration of the white fabric. 

Written and reviewed by:
Tall Paul
Tall Paul
I am 6'7 (203cm) / 235lb (106 kg) model and ex-athlete. Since I was a teen I had trouble finding clothes. I was too tall for off the rack and was too lean for Big & Tall.

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