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How to Brighten White Clothes and Remove Stains

Updated on August 9, 2012
Making your white clothes whiter is easy
Making your white clothes whiter is easy

White clothes can be difficult to keep clean. A drip of ketchup, drop of soup, a splat of sauce or an accidental spill on a white shirt or pants stands out against the white boldly. Removing the stain can be hard especially if it is a baby formula stain or an underarm stain or even the dreaded ring around the collar stain. Sometimes you don’t even have to spill something on yourself; white clothes may start to look gray or yellow after they’ve been laundered a few times. Compound the dull gray tinge or yellow hue your white clothes have taken on with a new stain and you have just created a recipe for disaster. Before you toss the white clothes into the rag bin or slate them for donation – try a few of these laundry tips and tricks to brighten up your white clothes and remove the stains.

Bleachable Whites

If you are a fan of bleach and love what it does for your socks and towels – increase the whitening power of your bleach. First stick with a brand name bleach like Clorox because cheaper bleaches oftentimes have tiny particles of iron that rust and then deposit the rust onto your white clothes. So, chlorine bleach is one of those circumstances that you get what you pay for. Boos the power of bleach by adding ¾ to 1 cup of baking soda to your washing machine. If you are happy with your bleach’s ability to whiten clothes, save some money without sacrificing the bleaching power. If you cup the amount of bleach you use by half and add ¾ to 1 cup of baking soda to the washing machine you will double the power of the bleach.

If you are not a fan of chlorine bleach – trying making your own bleach substitute.

Baby Formula Stains on White Clothes

Baby formula stains are notoriously hard to remove. Typically, once the stains are on the white clothes they will remain – not necessary true. The most important thing to do is to make sure the white clothes do not go into the clothes dryer if any part of the formula stain is visible. The heat from the dryer as well as the heat from an iron will permanently set the stain into the fabric fibers. Always get the stain out completely before drying or ironing white clothes. To remove baby formula stains from whites: wet the stained area with freshly squeezed lemon juice, completely saturating the material and then pour salt over the lemon juice to create a thin layer. Bring the stained white clothing outdoors on a sunny day and let the power of sunshine remove the stain for approximately two hours. Rinse away the lemon juice and salt with cool water, launder as usual and then inspect the clothing for signs of the stain.

Underarm or Sweat Stain Removal from Whites

Many times the antiperspirant or deodorant you use combines with your perspiration to form unsightly underarm stains on your white shirts. The stains tend to be gray or brown and seem to get worse with each wearing. Removing these stains is fairly easy. Pour ¼ cup of baking soda into a small bowl, add water while stirring constantly to form a paste. Wet the underarm stains with cool water. Coat the stains with the baking soda paste. Allow the paste to remain on the stains for a minimum of two to three hours. Launder as usual.

Ring Around the Collar on White Shirts

Nothing says gross quite like a ring around the collar stain. White dress shirt are the most susceptible to this type of stain. The collar sits closely on the neck and rubs back and forth. The stain is the result of perspiration, oils from the hair along with hair product residue. To make your own collar stain removal solution, mix equal amounts of liquid laundry detergent, household ammonia and water. Saturate the collar stains with the mixture. Use a soft bristle nylon brush to work the mixture into the fabric. Allow the mixture to remain on the collar for 30 to 45 minutes. Launder as usual.

White Clothes Still Not Bright Enough?

For many white clothes, it seems as if no matter what you do – they still look dingy. You are absolutely right they do. Why is that? -- you may ask. It is because the bluing – a process the clothing manufacturer uses to intensify white has washed away. You can restore the really white to your white clothing by using laundry bluing.


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