How to wash white clothes in washing machine

Washing whites. How we hope it was simple and easy. There is a lot of nervousness around not just wearing whites, but even when it comes to washing white clothes. If the white clothing happens to have tough stains on them, it is a nightmare.

Keeping clothes white and impeccably bright is a difficult task, but it is possible. There are different types of whites now- we have those crisp white shirts, white garments, white towels, and all kinds of white fabrics. There are many suggested ways, including manufacturer’s instructions that advise us on how to prevent white clothes from staining or turning dull.

Let us address the questions that involve how to maintain this precious white clothing appropriately and cautiously. We will discuss caring for and treating white clothing by hand wash, machine wash, which rinse cycle or wash cycle your washing machine needs to take up for washing clothes that are white, how to add detergent, removing tough stains, using lemon juice, white vinegar, or oxygen bleach for whites, etc. Let us head to handle that pile of white laundry effectively!

What is the best way to wash white clothes?

how to wash

You can handle all the white clothing you own without worry. You just got to wrap your mind around putting into practice some basic rules that come to washing white clothes.

1. Separate:

It is the rule of the thumb to wash white clothes separately from other coloured clothes that you own. It could be using an efficient washing machine or washing clothes by hand, always wash white garments separately. This will ensure that your white clothes do not get affected if the coloured clothes run colour.

2. Do not overload:

To keep clothes white the focus is to deal with them correctly. Overloading machines is not going to tackle the dirt in the white garments. It is best to wash sheets separately as they might wrap around other smaller clothing. Likewise, delicate garments should also be washed separately with care. Sheer blouses can be washed with other white clothing. The key is Do Not Overload; leave space for the machine to wash.

3. Stain removal:

We know your white shirt is going to get dirty easily no matter how careful you are. To remove or prevent difficult stains from staying on white clothes you should act on the stain immediately!

Some simple products to use for stain removal from white clothes are; baking soda, chlorine bleach, oxygen-based bleach, any best stain remover. If you can send your white clothing straight to dry cleaning after a single use it is going to guarantee stain removal.

4. Dry on low:

If you use a dryer to dry your white clothes remember to keep it on a low heat setting. If you over dry and skip on the low heat, your white clothes are going to cling to the stains on them. Grime and body oils, if not removed while washing whites, the drying process is going to push them deeper into the white fabric.

The best way to dry white clothes is under the sun. The ultraviolet rays of the sun will remove stains from the clothes in no time. You can remove your clothes from the washer or dryer when they are still slightly damp and then sun dry them outside on a drying rack. The sun will do stain removal and also turn the clothes whiter, brighter.

5. What setting to wash white clothes?

When it comes to washing whites in a washing machine, it is always best to check the care labels for the manufacturer’s instructions. If it suggests a recommended wash temperature or a rinse cycle, you can follow those. Do not take those instructions lightly, it helps maintain white garments impeccably bright.

The common way to clean clothes that are white is this: you can choose the regular wash cycle on your washing machine. Remember, you must however wash white clothes separately and use a warm water setting. Not the hottest water or high heat, rather warm water. Cold water might not help to remove dirt easily from white clothing, as effectively as warm water does. Hence warm water washing is suggested. You can follow this for delicate whites as well.

Running a regular gentle wash cycle can be used for other delicates also IF they don’t run colour. For example, you could wash your sheer blouses and white shirts at the same time.

6. How often should you wash white clothes?

Make it a practice to never postpone washing whites. All types of white garments and white fabrics tend to get dirty easily. They also discolour quickly and therefore they must be washed immediately after one use. Whether you have to wash your white shirt or wash white towels, do it at the earliest after a single use.

You might choose to wash your white garments either by hand or pop them for machine wash, just remember to wash white and coloured clothes separately. White clothing cannot be mixed even with light coloured clothes, even if it is for just one quick rinse. Washing white clothes separately and at the earliest helps maintain their colour. You can also use chlorine bleach to wash white clothing. This will make removing stains and discolouration easy.

What should you use to make clothes white?

Sparkling White

Apart from following the right wash routine, be it machine wash or hand wash, there are few products that can be used on white clothing to keep them bright and new. Each of these products might either help to remove tough stains or to keep discolouration away.

You must note that before you use any product on white clothing or delicate garments, you must check the clothing labels. The fabric care label will carry the information on what products can be used or avoided, even if it is a gentle fabric softener.

The right detergent

We often pay little attention to choosing the right laundry detergent. Using the right amount of detergent according to the laundry load is crucial. If you use excess detergent, the faster you will end up with faded clothes.

The common misconception when you wash white clothes is that if you use more of the powder or liquid detergent, the brighter and whiter the clothes will be. This is not true. If you use liquid detergent, half a cup will suffice for a regular-sized laundry load. Excess detergent or fabric softener will only make clothes attract more soil or dirt. For instance, if you overdo the detergent when you wash white towels, you will have excess towel lint as the result.

It is also important to choose a laundry detergent with optical brighteners to make white clothing appear whiter. We will see more about this under ‘Bluing agent’ on how optical brighteners help when washing white clothes. Keep note, white clothes or coloured clothes; a laundry detergent must be used in the right amount.

Distilled white vinegar

It is quite sad that most of us tend to overindulge in using a fabric softener. The commercial fabric softeners do very little good to your white fabrics. They will leave residue on the white clothing which is going to ruin your white garments.

You can replace your regular fabric softener with distilled white vinegar. This is a natural alternative that will also help to maintain white clothing. Distilled white vinegar will help with tough stains, prevent white clothes from yellowing, and will also strip away laundry detergent residue from the clothes.

When you wash whites in the washing machine, you can add detergent and also add 1 cup of distilled white vinegar to it. You can do the same even when you hand wash. For all delicate items and delicate whites, it is best to check with the fabric care label before you use white vinegar on them.

Lemon juice

Another natural agent that helps to keep clothes white is lemon juice. The next time before washing whites, remember to add lemon juice, a great organic bleaching agent to your wash routine. This is surely going to keep your white shirt white and bright!

To use lemon juice while washing white clothes, either by hand wash or in the washing machine; all you got to do is add half a cup of lemon juice in hot water and soak the white clothes in them overnight before washing them. This will help to get rid of stains and yellowing or discolouration at the same time.

Chlorine bleach

Among the different types of bleaching agents that are used for white clothes; chlorine bleach and oxygen bleach are common ones. Chlorine bleach and oxygen bleach contain whiteners that can be highly effective for stain removal and keeping your white clothing bright. However, chlorine bleach is quite powerful and it may end up damaging the fabric if used often (especially on a delicate cotton shirt). Chlorine bleach should not be used regularly. Using other alternatives to this is recommended.

Bluing agent

You might have come across some type of bluing agent that is added to white clothes. These are called optical brighteners. Adding a touch of bluing agent to white clothes or yellow clothing will make them appear whiter. You should never pour the liquid over white clothes directly. Always mix the liquid in water (take the right amount or you will turn your white clothes blue!), add it into the detergent dispenser in your washing machine and then turn on the machine.

The reason why these bluing agents are called optical brighteners is that they showcase blue light by reducing the yellow light. When the blue light is highlighted by playing down the yellow light an illusion is created; it makes yellow clothing seem whiter. This is why yellow stains or white that look like yellow clothing can be masked with optical brighteners.


Another whitening agent used while washing clothes is Borax. This contains a water softening system that many find helpful to soften hard water. Adding some borax while washing will help to keep clothes white.

Please read the instructions that come on the box to know how to use borax and if it is harmless on delicate fabrics.

Dishwashing liquid

If you need a quick fix for whitening clothes and nothing else is available, you can also try some dishwashing liquid. These also contain brightening agents that can come useful for small white laundry; like socks or underwear.

Baking soda

Maintaining white laundry can be done by using the simple kitchen ingredient- baking soda. You can add baking soda to the detergent dispenser (along with the regular laundry detergent) for both white and coloured clothes. When you add baking soda you help your white clothing to tackle stains and dirt effectively.

Warm water

When you wash white clothes, whether by hand or in the machine, it is always suggested to use warm water or the hottest water setting. The high heat is more efficient in removing grime (body oil for example), in comparison to low heat. This is why warm water or the hottest water is suggested to be used when you wash white clothing.

Nevertheless, follow the instructions on recommended wash temperature for delicate items. Check if the delicate times you wish to wash require hot or cold water before you subject them to high heat.

How to whiten white clothes that have yellowed?

Before you try any remedy on white clothes it is important to look at the care labels. The best option to remove yellowing from white clothes is chlorine bleach or oxygen-based bleach. While chlorine bleach is going to turn your white clothes more yellow (sometimes), an oxygen-based bleach will help.

Mix some bleach in cold water (add quantity as per instructions given), and soak the yellowed clothing in this water for four hours. You can do this either in large plastic tubs or in the top-loading machine drum. Run the laundry regularly after this.

How to keep white clothes white [5 Easy Steps]

Maintaining White Clothes

Here are few steps to follow when you wash white clothes.

1. Clean your washer:

To maintain the colour of your white clothes it is necessary to clean your washer thoroughly. A dirty washer will not perform effectively. Clean your washer once every three months to prevent it from discolouring your white clothes and other light coloured clothes.

2. Soften hard water:

If you persistently face faded clothes after every wash, it is time to look into the water you use. Hard water will turn white fabrics and other delicate fabrics lifeless and dull. Invest in either a natural or artificial water softening system to sort this issue.

3. Detergent:

Adding half cup of borax or one cup of baking soda to laundry detergent when you wash whites will help to maintain the clothing. Be it a cotton shirt that you are hand washing or it could be running a load of sheets separately in the washer; baking soda and borax will be of great help to boost the performance of a laundry detergent.

4. Chlorine bleach:

Remember, chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach should be used correctly. Although chlorine bleach is an excellent whitening agent, it will be futile when used at the wrong time. Also, overusing chlorine bleach will turn cotton fabrics yellow.

5. Dry clean:

If you aren’t washing your white clothes the other best option to remove stains, dirt, body oil, and grime from them is to dry clean. This is going to guarantee maintenance and cleaning of your white clothing perfectly.

1. Why you should wash white clothes using hot water?

Warm water washing is the best choice to wash white clothing since the heat will help to remove oils and grime. 

2. How to wash white clothes with stains?

Act promptly and only on the spot of the stain first before washing the entire garment.

3. Do you need a bleach to wash white clothes?

Yes. Bleaching whitens clothes.

4. How to wash white clothes with baking soda?

You can add detergent to baking soda. This works for both matching washing and hand washing.

Wrapping Up

Hope you found this article useful to know caring for white clothing. Let us know in the comments below how you maintain your white garments and the stain removal methods you follow.

About the Author

Neha Pik

Neha Tiwari, Member at

Neha is the one who is aware of current trends and best practices in our desi community. She also helps and educates people looking for a solution to their problems via online. Her work has been published on countless blogs and notable magazines.