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White clothes drying on a washing line to illustrate how to wash white clothes

How to Wash White Clothes

If you're a parent, keeping your family's white clothes bright and clean might be hard to stay on top of. We all know that white sheets, duvets, dresses, and shirts can yellow over time, and that kids – and spouses – will come home with stained clothes once in a while, so it's good to be prepared when it comes to running them through the washing machine.

From advice on how to treat white sheets, clothes, and other items so they stay in top condition to ways to remove stains on white shirts, jeans, and other garments, read on for great white clothes washing tips!  


How to Treat a White Shirt

Week to week, work shirts and your kids' school uniforms will see a lot of wear, and knowing how to wash whites becomes an essential skill as school shirts pile up in the laundry basket. So, what are the best ways to treat white shirts?

Firstly, always make sure you separate white shirts from your coloured garments. Even older clothes can transfer colour, or just make the white cloth look grey and dingy. Remember to also separate the heavily-soiled garments from the lightly-soiled ones – you don't want that muddy t-shirt spoiling your child's pristine school shirt! Ideally, you should wash white shirts after every wear to stop yellowing from perspiration or skin oils.

Try adding in half a cup of baking soda to the dispenser drawer to prevent staining. It's just as important to keep your washing machine clean. Clean the drum regularly and leave the door open when not in use to prevent odour build-up. Always read the instructions in your machine’s manual to ensure that you clean it properly; most machines will require you to remove lint from the filter or run an empty cycle every now and again.

Chlorine bleach can help to brighten white shirts, but too much can actually cause discolouring. It's also not advisable to use too much bleach when children are around, as the harsh chemicals can irritate skin. Instead, try putting half a cup of lemon juice in your washing machine to really get those shirts dazzling!

Also, always remove your washing from the machine immediately after it finishes, and leave to dry in the sun – the ultra-violet light will naturally brighten whites.  


What temperature to wash white clothes at

So, what temperature do you wash clothes at, really? Quite a few care labels say 60 degrees Celsius, but with some quick action and a quality detergent used as both pre-treatment and in the wash, you can get brilliant results even at 30 or 40 degrees. Try lowering the temperature the next time you're washing white clothes and see for yourself!


Ways to Remove Stains on White Clothes

Life is full of surprises and your kid's white shirts will inevitably gather some stains as they learn, play and live life to the full! As long as you follow these tips on how to wash white shirts, you shouldn't ever have any problem keeping them mark-free.

Try to treat stains as soon as they occur, as older stains can dry and permanently mark white clothes. Having a detergent with easy-access stain removal properties will make this easier. Using Persil for white clothes is a good idea, as the liquid version comes with a Stain Eraser Ball for quick, easy application as a pre-treatment, and it continues to work well in a cool wash.

It might seem strange, but a cold water wash in the machine is generally actually better for removing stains from white shirts, as hot water can seal it in. Just make sure you use the correct detergent for the fabric – delicate garments will respond better to Persil Non-Bio Liquid Detergent, for example.

For heavier staining or if you're wondering how to wash white jeans, it's best to pre-treat with a solution of oxygen bleach or a little detergent; rub in and leave for 10–30 minutes. (Use biocides safely. Always read the label and product information before use.) Use a stain-removal product according to the type of stain – there are many available for stains that are oil-based, from blood, food or drink, so check what treatment will be best for the job.

Drying a stained shirt can also make any marks harder to remove, so if your shirts aren't clean after the first wash, treat them again while they’re still wet. And don't forget to check the labels on new shirts for any specific instructions; there's nothing worse than purchasing crisp new white shirts for school, only to have them dull within a few weeks.


How to remove colour run from white clothes

Accidentally chucked a red t-shirt in while washing white clothes and ended up with a pink load? Don't panic! Just remove the offending item, pop some colour-safe oxygen bleach in with your detergent (having read the instructions on the oxygen bleach thoroughly), and wash the load again at the recommended temperature (check the care labels on the items).

If you'd rather not use oxygen bleach, you can try adding a cup of white vinegar instead. White vinegar is a natural stain remover that can be used when washing white t-shirts, jeans, etc. to remove stains and colour run when you want a gentler solution. If the colour run isn't removed by the white vinegar, you may want to try oxygen bleach instead before the load dries.

For more tips on how to remove colour run, take a look at this guide.


By following these simple white clothes washing tips and giving your garments a little care and attention, you can look forward to load after load of dazzlingly white shirts for the family.

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