Key Steps:

Here you'll find tips for removing stains from white clothes and how to make clothes white again.

Updated Reading Time: 5 minutesBy Wiki Tips English Team

freshly cleaned white t-shirts on a drying rack

It can be harder than we would like to keep our white clothes bright and clean, especially as white is such an easy colour to stain. This guide will help you learn how to make white clothes white again and keep them looking great wear after wear.

Key Steps:

  • Pre-soak as a first step in how to make white clothes white again.

  • Use products like  to wash your white laundry and keep it bright, clean and fresh.

  • Use lemon juice or distilled white vinegar to lift colour stains from your white clothes.

White clothes look great when they’re brand new, but almost seem to attract stains. After removing stains from white clothes, use quality laundry products to take steps to keep your white laundry clean and fresh.

You will need:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Baking soda
  • Lemon juice

How to make clothes white again

When it comes to understanding how to make white clothes white again, the best way is to pre-soak them. There are three key soaks you could try.

  1. Laundry detergent

    Adding ¼ cup of detergent powder, like , to a sink full of warm water and soaking your white clothes for two hours before a normal wash works to whiten them.

  2. Baking soda

    Dissolving one cup of baking soda in four litres of warm water makes not only a great whitening solution but also an effective deodoriser. Soak your white clothes in the solution for around eight hours before popping them in your usual wash.

  3. Lemon juice

    Boil two sliced (not halved) lemons in a large stockpot of water and then remove it from the heat. Then add your white clothes to soak for an hour. The lemon juice works as a great whitener.

Removing stains from white clothes using white vinegar

If your white clothes just need a little bit of brightening and you haven’t stocked up on detergent, you can try washing them with white vinegar.

  1. Add vinegar to the fabric softener compartment

    Add half a cup of distilled white vinegar to the fabric softener compartment of your washing machine.

  2. Use your regular detergent

    Use your usual detergent and of course following any appropriate instructions on the care label. Have a look at our article if you’re not sure what the washing symbols mean. 

  3. Wash in washing machine

    Wash your whites in your washing machine.

The great thing about this method is that vinegar doesn’t bleach anything with colours in them. It also won’t leave a smell behind and will get rid of any remaining alkalinity from your detergent in the last rinse.

How to remove colour stains from white clothes using detergent

White clothes are so easy to stain, especially if a red sock or a blue shirt has found its way into a white wash. Here’s how to deal with colour stains using a good detergent.

  1. Wash your white clothing with a laundry capsule

    Pop a capsule in your washing machine, then put your white laundry in there.

  2. Wash at 40 degrees

    Wash on a normal cycle at 40°C.

  3. Air-dry the clothing

    Let the clothes air-dry, preferably in sunlight as the sun’s rays can help bleach the stains.

  4. Pre-treat any remaining stains

    Spot-check for any remaining stains. If you find any, you can pre-treat the stains with a little  for 15–30 minutes before washing again.

How to bleach white clothes

Bleaching white clothing should be done with caution. So here's how to bleach white clothes properly to remove stains.

Use biocides safely. Always read the label and product information before use.

  1. Soak your clothes in cold water

    With a container, add cold water and soak your clothes. Ensure all the clothes are completely soaked.

  2. Add bleach to the clothing in the container

    Add a few tablespoons of bleach into the container where your white clothing is soaked.

  3. Stir everything in the container and soak for 10 minutes

    Stir everything together to make sure everything is soaked completely. Allow the clothes to soak for about 10 minutes.

    Bleach can weaken or damage your fabrics if you soak for too long.

  4. Remove and wash through with cold water

    After 10 minutes, remove the clothing and wash thoroughly with cold water.

  5. Leave to dry

    Remove any excess water and leave to dry.

Alternative methods to removing colour stains from white clothes

These steps using lemon juice or distilled white vinegar will help remove colour stains from your white clothes.

  1. Dab lemon juice or vinegar onto the stain

    Dab the lemon juice or distilled white vinegar directly onto the stain.

  2. Scrub with an old toothbrush

    Use an old toothbrush to scrub the stain for a couple of minutes.

  3. Leave to soak for ten minutes

    Leave the liquid to soak for up to ten more minutes then rinse out the liquid.

  4. Wash normally

    Wash your clothes as normal.

Alternatively, if you have a stain that is still wet and fresh you can rub a little salt into it, which will help to absorb the moisture and lift away the stain whilst still in its liquid state.

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How to maintain white clothes?

Maintaining white clothes requires extra care to preserve their brightness and prevent discoloration. Start by separating white garments from coloured ones during laundry. Pre-treat stains promptly using a stain remover or a paste made of baking soda and water. Wash white clothes in a gentle cycle using a quality detergent formulated for whites. Hang white clothes to dry in sunlight, as the sun's natural bleaching effect can help maintain their whiteness. Store white clothes in a clean, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent yellowing or fading.

Now you have all the tips you need for removing stains from white clothes and steps for how to make clothes white again you will be able to rejuvenate your wardrobe and keep your white laundry as bright as ever from wash to wear.

Originally published