White makes a bold style statement year-round. The problem arises when those bright whites suddenly transform into something vaguely whitish — not quite the pristine shade that stands out in a crowd. Suddenly you’re dealing with a pair of dingy-looking pants or a drab dress that’s blah instead of bold.
Fortunately, all is not lost — so long as you adhere to a few tips that promise to brighten up your white clothes and breathe new life into the pieces you thought you’d never wear again.
6 Ways to Make White Clothes Brighter
1. Wash your whites properly.
There’s almost no greater laundering faux pas than mixing your whites with brilliant rainbow hues. Separate the two, and take care not to overfill the washer. And, bonus, not overstuffing your washer also reduces the amount of ironing you have to do. There should be ample space in there for the detergent and water to eliminate stains effectively. Filling it to capacity backfires because the clothes just don’t get clean enough, and whites may even look a little sullied when you pull them out.
2. Tackle stubborn stains first.
Before tossing everything into the wash, prepare a stain-blasting blend of four tablespoons of both water and baking soda. Mix thoroughly and dab the blend onto stains, and let it work some magic for 15 minutes before scrubbing. For an extra boost, add a cup of baking soda to your detergent.
3. Try white vinegar.
White vinegar is a surprisingly effective addition to your laundry routine, and all you need to do is add it to the rinse cycle. You can use as much as half a cup for your largest laundry loads. The vinegar works to strip away any lingering residue left from the detergent, which adds some brightness to those whites.
4. Use the aspirin regimen.
You read that right. If you’ve got telltale stains on the underarms of your white shirts, don’t relegate those tees to the back of the closet just yet. Pulverize two aspirins in half a cup of warm water. Soak the stain in your aspirin water for up to three hours. Then wash as usual.
5. Bathe your whites in citrus.
Your white clothes may require the VIP treatment every now and then. For clothes that are extremely dingy, fill a basin full of hot water and add a generous amount of lemon slices. Place your white clothes in the lemon water for a couple of hours, and then wash as you normally would.
6. Finish with some sunshine.
If you can, hang your white clothes outside and allow them to dry in the sunlight. Those potent ultraviolet rays bring out the whiteness in your garments, and leave them looking fresher and brighter. If you must use the dryer, set it at the lowest heat setting and remove the clothes when they’re still a little damp. Air drying is always your safest bet.
Tanya is a seasoned journalist based in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Specializing in fashion, beauty, and travel, she loves to explore new places, read as much as possible, and scour the web for fabulous finds — all in the name of research, of course.
Thanks for stopping by! I'm Catherine, your Budget Fashionista style editor. I'm a bargain shopper at heart, as I love nice things but hate paying for them! I'm also a personal finance writer who's been featured on USA Today and MSN Money.