How to Make a Dingy T-Shirt White Again

How to Make a Dingy T-Shirt White Again

Bright white clothing screams "clean." Even if it's not seen and admired by the public, a fresh, new undershirt, pair of socks, or set of underclothes can make a person feel more confident, adding a little spring to the step. And don't forget the warning handed down by my Mom and mothers like her about clean underwear! Making sure your whites are sparkling falls under the category of "plan for every inevitability." The good news is that you don't have to constantly toss and rebuy basics to maintain your bright whites. With a little know-how, you can keep them shimmering long past their expected expiration date. Here are some tips for keeping your whites bright.

1 Sorting. Keep whites separate. Sort whites from colored clothes. Dye molecules will bleed into the water and subtly tint your whites.

2 Treating stains. Attack spills and smudges immediately. Use a solid stain stick or spot-treating liquid and carefully follow package directions because all fabrics and all stains are unique.

3 Loading the washer. Pack the washing machine loosely, allowing enough room for the dirt to lift out and float away rather than be redeposited.

4 Bleaching. Don't always reach for the chlorine bleach. Overusing it on pure cotton fabrics can increase yellowing. An oxygen-based bleach will generally do the job and is safer in most cases. Use chlorine bleach every fourth wash and follow package directions carefully.

5 Recalibrating hard water. Because minerals deposit on whites, leaving them looking dingy, if your local water is hard, invest in a water-softening device or add softener to each load.

6 Line drying. When possible, allow whites to dry in the sun. Ultraviolet rays, although undesirable for humans, help whiten already white fabric.

How to Remove Pit Stains from a White Shirt

It's hard to exude confidence when you're sporting half-moon rings in the underarm region. These unsightly patches can be caused by the aluminum chloride used in many deodorants or from minerals in your perspiration. Try these tips to keep your white shirts brilliant, from collar to hem.

• Wash the shirt with every wear, even if it looks and smells clean. Chemicals from products, and your own body, can get to work over time. In other words, while your shirt languishes in the hamper, the stain will grow.

• For newish stains, turn the shirt inside out, rinse the pits, then allow the shirt to soak in cold water.

• If soaking doesn't remove a new stain, use a solution of 2 tablespoons ammonia to 1 cup water. Pour the solution onto the stain and let it rest for an hour. Then wash the garment on the hottest setting the care label recommends. Then allow the shirt to air-dry because the heat of the dryer will set the stain. Repeat if necessary.

• If ammonia doesn't remove a new stain, try chlorine bleach (use only colorsafe bleach on light pastel colors). Use a solution of 1 tablespoon bleach to 1 cup water. Pour the solution onto the stain and let it rest for an hour. Wash the garment on the hottest setting the care label recommends. Allow it to airdry and repeat if necessary.

• For older stains, pour distilled white vinegar onto the stain and let it rest for an hour. Wash the garment on the hottest setting the care label recommends. Allow the shirt to air-dry because the heat of the dryer will set the stain. Repeat if necessary.

Little Laundry Facts

• To keep black clothes black, use an antifade detergent. This keeps the chlorine in the water from fading the dye. When washing, turn the garment inside out and hang or lay it flat to dry.

• To reduce odors, add ½ cup baking soda to 1 gallon water and presoak the garments for at least three hours. Then, as you machine wash them, add ½ cup distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle.

• To disinfect your washing machine, pour in ½ cup mouthwash and run it through a regular cycle using hot water.

• To dry clothes in a hurry, twirl the load on the spin cycle in the washer an extra time. Then, when putting them in the dryer, throw in a dry towel or two. Finally, as with a pot of rice, don't open the dryer door to keep checking if it's done.

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