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How to Get Yellowed Whites Clean Again

Published on September 10, 2012, by in Sitters.

From rings around the collar to armpit stains on the sleeves and all other type of stains that find their way onto otherwise pristine white clothes, sweat stained items often get so yellowed that you may wonder if you should just toss out the garment and buy a new one. But before you throw anything out, there is a solution.  This method won’t work on delicate clothes because you will need to use some elbow grease to get them clean, but on everyday items like t-shirts, polo’s, and men’s dress shirts, it should work like a charm.

For rings around the collar and other sweat stains:

Step 1.  Mix together ½ cup of Dawn dishwashing liquid, 1 cup of peroxide, and 1 cup of baking soda in a bowl or small bucket.

Step 2.  Cover the kitchen table with plastic to protect the furniture. 

Step 3. Lay out all of your clothes that you want to get white again.  If you’re concerned about using your table, consider placing the clothes in the bathtub instead.

Step 4. With a scrub brush take some of the solution and scrub the yellowed areas on the clothes.  This may take several minutes of aggressive scrubbing.

Step 5. Allow the garments to sit for one hour.

Step 6. Wash the clothes as usual, but don’t put them in the dryer. The stains should come out, but if they are not completely gone, repeat the process.

For dingy all white clothing you want bright white again:

Step 1. In a 5 gallon bucket, soak the dingy clothes in a solution of 3 gallons of warm water and 1 cup of bleach. If there is any colored trim on the garment this method won’t work, and you may want to try using color-safe bleach instead.  You’ll also want to avoid using regular bleach on polyester, as the bleach could turn the whites a yellowish color.  If you have polyester clothing items you need to make sure to use non-chlorine bleach.

Step 2. Allow the clothes to soak overnight in the bucket.

Step 3. Launder the clothing as usual, but add ¼ teaspoon of bluing diluted with 2 quarts of water to the rinse cycle according to package directions.  Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing is a non-toxic product that is biodegradable.  This ingredient will make the clothes appear brighter.  Put the clothes in the dryer as usual.

Step 4.  If the above steps don’t work, your white clothes may have picked up color from other clothing.  To remove that color use RIT color remover.  Fill your top loading machine with hot water and add in a package of RIT color remover.  Add your dingy clothes, close the lid and continue with the washing cycle.  If you have a front loading machine, put the dingy clothes in the machine and add the RIT color remover to the detergent dispenser.  Continue the wash cycle; no other detergent should be used.

Step 5. Remove the clothes from the washer and hang the clothes outside in the sun. They will continue to get whiter as they dry.

For dingy or yellowed whites, putting in a little effort to get them bright again can save you a bit of money and extend the life of the item.

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