For centuries upper class Europeans claimed white coloured garments for themselves. They emphasised their superiority showing that they don’t need to get dirty doing their work. With industrialisation and the democratisation of fashion all this has changed, we can now afford to possess white garments and can easily take care of them using the washing machine. Knowing how to look after white clothes gives us an advantage, as we can also reuse white second hand garments and enjoy the unique styles of vintage blouses. We have gathered some great tips for you to help you keep your whites white.
One of the first things to keep in mind is that it is important to wash whites only with whites. By doing so you make sure they don’t get grey-ish. If they still do, this is an indicator that there are some old fibers from previous washings in the machine. In this case it is necessary to run a cleaning cycle, which should be undergone at least once every three months.
When you start washing your whites, and you have double checked that your machine is clean, you can use white garments detergent. This type of detergent has some bleach in it, to brighten up your clothes. Make sure however, never to wash white silk with it (check out how to care for silk here). Instead of a detergent you can also just use a usual organic one, that is eco friendlier. Adding the detergent, follow the dosages on the packaging, as - and you would be surprised - too much detergent can actually make your clothes dirtier. It is also recommended not to use fabric softener with your whites, as it adds residue to your garments, which can attract extra soil to the fibers. The result is yellowing or dullness and even sweaty smell, which is the exact opposite of what we want for our white things. What you can add into the fabric softener compartment instead, is a cup of lemon juice, which is a natural bleach.
If you have stains on your garments, we recommend pretreating the stains with vinegar and water. Hot water, in conjunction with detergent, usually works well on chocolate, wine, coffee, and oil stains. Let it soak and then wash on the cycle recommended on the care label.
Now you have washed your whites with the right detergent and without the fabric softener, they are ready to dry. The best way of drying them is outside in the sun - as it bleaches them a little bit more, and helps your clothes stay bright.
Before you slip over your top make sure your deodorant has dried completely. The aluminium in many antiperspirants can turn your garments yellow. And even if you are using aluminium-free deodorants, the ingredients in a deodorant or simply sweat stains might cause yellowness on your white top. What is recommended here is an enzyme cleaner and oxygen brightener. Enzyme cleaner is a nontoxic product with live cultures that work on bio-based stains and substances such as sweat, food or pet stains.