Keeping white clothes looking brightest and freshest can be a never-ending battle. Even with proper laundering techniques, white clothes still turn yellow over time and leaving you with the challenge of figuring out how to get them white again. While bleach is most people’s go-to solution but it’s not always the best option. Fortunately, there are various alternative methods that you can try to whiten white clothes that have yellowed without the use of bleach. With a little bit of extra effort and some natural products available at home or with some store-bought remedies, you can make your clothes look brand new again, without damaging the fabric or exposing yourself to harsh chemicals.
Why White Clothes Turn Yellow Over Time?
They turn yellow over time due to exposure to sunlight, sweat, and dirt. Sunlight can cause a chemical reaction in the fabric’s fibers, leading to yellowing and discoloration. Sweat contains urea, which can react with other substances and cause dullness. Dirt and other particles can cause it to appear dingy. Their are certain detergents and fabric softeners that can leave residues on the stuff, which contributes to being fade over time. It’s important to properly care for white and to use safe and effective methods for whiten the yellowed clothes when needed.
Why Bleach is Not Always the Best Solution?
This is because bleach works by breaking down the molecules that cause stains, including those that result in discoloration. It is a powerful chemical that can weaken fibers. When used repeatedly or in high concentrations, chlorine bleach can actually damage your clothes and cause them to yellow or become thin specially when used on wool or silk.
Furthermore it is not very powerful for removing all types of stains like for removing rust, grass or other deep-set stains that is the cause of yellowing. In these cases, alternative solutions, such as using a stain remover or a color-safe bleach alternative, may be more effective at restoring the bright white appearance of your clothes.
Here are 8 Alternatives of Bleach to whiten yellowed clothes
1. Baking Soda
- Fill a large bowl or sink with warm water and add half a cup of baking soda. Stir the mixture to dissolve the baking soda and add the yellow clothes, ensuring that they are fully submerged. Let the clothes soak for at least 30 minutes, but not more than an hour.
- After soaking, drain the water from the bowl or sink and rinse the clothes thoroughly with clean water.
- Once the clothes are clean, hang or lay them out to dry in the sun or a well-ventilated area. Avoid using a dryer, as high heat can cause yellow clothes to fade or discolor.
2. Hydrogen peroxide
- Pretreat the yellowed areas of your clothes by dabbing or spraying some hydrogen peroxide directly onto the stained portions of the fabric.
- Let it soak into the fabric for at least 15 minutes.
- Fill your washing machine with cold water and add your hydrogen peroxide-treated clothes to the load.
- Add your regular laundry detergent and run the washer on a gentle cycle.
- Once the cycle is complete, remove your clothes from the washing machine and hang them to dry. Avoid putting your clothes in the dryer until you are sure that the yellow stains have been completely removed.
- If some yellow stains persist even after washing and drying, repeat the hydrogen peroxide treatment as needed until your clothes are white and stain-free.
3.Distilled White Vinegar
- Take a large bucket and fill it with lukewarm water. Add one cup of distilled white vinegar per gallon of water. Mix it well.
- Submerge your yellowed clothes into the vinegar solution and let them soak for 30 minutes.
- After soaking, remove the clothes from the water. Gently rub the yellowed areas with a soft brush or sponge to help loosen any remaining dirt and grime.
- Rinse the clothes thoroughly in cold water to remove all the vinegar residue.
- Once the clothes are rinsed, wash them as usual.
4. Lemon Juice
- Lemons are available in almost everyone kitchens and the cheapest solution for removing stains.
- Mix the lemon juice or essential oil with 4-5 cups of hot water in a large bowl or bucket. You can add a tablespoon of salt to the mixture for increased whitening action.
- Place the yellow clothes in the lemon juice solution. Allow the clothes to soak for at least an hour. You can leave them for overnight to whiten the yellowed clothes white if they are heavily spoted.
- After soaking, transfer the clothes to the washing machine and add normal amount of laundry detergent.
- Rinse the clothes with cold water at least twice to eliminate any traces of the lemon juice.
- Prepare a soaking solution for your clothes by mixing one cup of kitchen dishwasher detergent powder or liquid with enough warm water to make a thick paste. Use rubber gloves to avoid touching the detergent and agitate the solution.
- Once your solution is ready, soak your clothes it in the bucket. Leave the clothes to soak for at least thirty minutes.
- Use a scrub brush or an old toothbrush to scrub the clothes carefully.
- Finally, wash your clothes in a washing machine as per their care instructions
- Before washing your clothes with Borax, you need to pre-treat the yellow stains. Apply a small amount of your regular laundry detergent to the affected areas and gently rub it in. Allow the detergent to sit on the stains for 10-15 minutes before proceeding to the next step.
- Next, you need to prepare the Borax solution. For every gallon of warm water in a bucket, add one cup of borax.
- Add the prepared clothing to the bucket once the Borax solution is ready, making sure to completely soak them. Launder the garments for at least an hour.
- Then rinse the clothes thoroughly with cold water.
7. Color Remover
- Pick a colour remover that has been created especially to restore the whiteness of yellowed clothing.
- Before starting, dab a tiny amount of the color remover over the troublesome region for a few minutes.
- Add the recommended amount of color remover in the bucket.
- With your hands in gloves, gently agitate the clothing to spread the solution across all surfaces.
- Let the clothes soak for the recommended amount of time, which will be specified on the product label. Avoid leaving the clothes in the solution for too long.
- Then drain the water and give the clothing a thorough wash in warm water.
- Finally, launder the clothes as usual to remove any remaining stains and keep your whites looking bright.
- Fill your washing machine with water and add the regular amount of detergent you use.
- Add the yellowed clothes to the washing machine and let it run its course. Once the wash cycle completes, remove the water.
- Refill the washing machine with water, this time adding half a teaspoon of bluing per gallon of water.
- Add the yellowed clothes back to the washing machine and let it run for a final rinsing to whiten it white.
- Then wash it as usual.
Tips on How to Prevent White Clothes from Yellowing
White clothes, especially those made from natural fibers like cotton or linen, are prone to yellowing over time. However, you can take several steps to prevent white clothes from yellowing in the first place and maintain their pristine appearance.
Firstly, always separate your whites from colors when do laundry. Mixing whites with bright or dark colors can cause dyes to bleed into your white clothes and cause it to yellowing. Also, wash white clothes in hot water with a detergent or enzymes to help remove any stains or oils.
Secondly, avoid using too much heat during washing and drying as high temperatures can break down the fibers in your clothes. Instead, opt for a cool or warm cycle during washing and air-dry your clothes under indirect sunlight to avoid direct exposure to sunlight.
Thirdly, avoid using fabric softeners, especially those containing oil-based ingredients, as they can leave a residue on your clothes. Instead of it try using a white vinegar rinse in the final rinse cycle, which helps to remove any soap residue.
Lastly, store your white clothes properly by keeping them in a clean, dry, and well-ventilated area away from sunlight. Avoid storing them in plastic bags or tightly sealed containers, as this can create a humid environment that fosters stained clothes.
How do you whiten yellowed clothes white again?
Grab ¼ cup of white vinegar and equal parts of water. Then, mix the two substances into a bowl or spray bottle. Apply the mixture onto the yellow stains and let it sit for an hour. Wash the garment in cold water and dry it as usual
Can baking soda whiten clothes?
Baking soda whitens, freshens, and softens fabrics. Add 1/2 cup of baking soda along with your regular laundry detergent. For spot stains, make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it directly to the fabric.
Will baking soda damage my clothes if I use it to white them?
Baking soda is generally safe to use on most fabrics, but it can be abrasive on delicate fabrics like silk or wool. If you are unsure whether baking soda is safe to use on a particular fabric, do a spot test on an inconspicuous area before using it to whiten the entire garment.
I’m Zaib Bilwal, and my journey into the world of home styling began in my school days, where I enjoyed rearranging my space. After graduating in 2015, I turned my passion for furniture refurbishing into a business. Today, it’s evolved into an interior design blog filled with inspiration and practical advice. My mission is simple, to make design accessible and enjoyable, offering you the tools and inspiration to create your dream home.