4 Tips For Keeping Whites White
Nothing quite says ‘professional’ like crisp, clean white sheet or fluffy white towels. However, a number of common washing mistakes (many of which you may not even realise you’re doing) can leave your once bright whites a washed out shade of grey or yellow over time.
Whether you run a laundry room in a care home, school, hospital, spa, restaurant or another busy business, here are four of the best tips for keeping whites white – and they’ll work at home too.
Expert advice for washing whites
By following these simple tips for your white laundry, it’s easy to ensure that your sheets, towels and other items stay as bright as the day they were bought.
1. Separate colours and fabrics
While it may be common practice to not mix black and white laundry garments in the wash, it’s easy to overlook the mixing of other, lighter shades (such as blue, green and pink) with white garments. This won’t necessarily result in colour transfer or ‘bleeding’, but white fabric is prone to picking up fluff from darker items, which will make it appear dingy and unclean.
If you’re in a hard water area, this can discolour your whites.
Ask a laundry expert about water softeners.
As well as colours, you should also take into account fabric types when washing white clothes for residents or uniforms for staff. This is due to the fact that some delicate garments will require laundering at a lower temperature, or even by hand.
To make separating your fabrics as simple as possible, refer to the following guidelines:
Acetates and acrylics can be washed together
Cotton, linen and similar materials can be washed together
Wool should be washed separately
Delicates should be washed separately (often by hand)
Do not skip rinses as detergent carryover will discolour items when drying
2. Wash at a high temperature
As a general rule, white garments should be washed at a temperature of at least 65 degrees. This is typically the best option for white garments as higher temperatures are the most effective at removing ingrained dirt (as well as sanitising and killing germs).
However, as we already know, wool and similarly delicate fabrics will shrink or obtain further damage if laundered at too high a temperature. To ensure such items retain their original brightness without their quality being compromised, you can add a whitener or brightener to the wash.
While the above guidance is a good ‘rule of thumb’ guide for keeping whites white, it’s also possible to get the same results or better at low temperatures – using ozone laundry. This natural (disinfection) method also opens up fibres more than a traditional thermal wash, which can help you get soft, fluffy towels that impress your guests.
3. Use the correct detergent
White laundry, black and brightly coloured garments all have different requirements to keep them looking their very best. To boost the brightness of your items and prevent dingy whites , opt for a detergent with an added bleaching agent. Be warned though…bleach shouldn’t be used on bright colours as will fade them, meaning you’ll probably have to buy two types of detergent.
Once you’ve found the most suitable detergent, it’s important to use the right amount during each wash cycle. While items may not be badly stained (leading many to believe that they only need to use half of the recommended amount of detergent) this can have a detrimental effect on your washing equipment. Find out how detergent auto-dosing could help.
By not using the recommended amount of detergent, grease and limescale will build up in the washer, resulting in garments picking up more dirt during the wash.
4. Prevent and pre-treat stains
We’ve all had those moments- you’re wearing a new white outfit, when suddenly you’ve spilt something down the front of it. The same can happen with new bedding, uniforms, towels and other expensive-to-replace items. Luckily, it’s easy to salvage your items with these simple tips...
Don’t let the stain dry - treat it as soon as possible! As soon as it becomes ingrained in the fabric, it will be all the harder to remove.
Immediately pre-treat the garment with a stain removal product formulated specifically for the stain type (such as sauce or ink). Alternatively, you can use a small amount of detergent.
Use bleach as a pre-treatment as a last resort- it has the potential to damage delicate garments, so always check the inner care label before applying to the fabric.
After pre-treating, try a cold wash- in some instances, hot water can seal in stains, making them harder to remove in the long-run.
If your stain isn’t removed after laundering, don’t let the garment dry- pre-treat and wash for a second time (or until the stain is considerably faded or removed).
To prevent yellowing from everyday wear, simply add half a cup of baking soda to each wash.
Bonus tip: use a colour remover – they can be very effective on whites too.
Remember: if in doubt, check the clothes washing labels before washing or treating garments.