Keeping whites white is not an easy job if you don’t know how to do it right. When you wash them, you have to wash them separately from colored clothing. But even if you do this, they can become yellow and dingy over time. This can be caused by perspiration, detergent residue and water impurities. I found some ways from Martha Stewart’s Living on how to restore brightness to white cottons, cotton blends and linens.
- Heat 2 gallons of water over high heat, bringing it to a boil. You may use several pots so that each is light enough to lift off the stove.
- When the water comes to a rolling boil, turn off the heat. Let the pots stand for 5 minutes.
- Put a plastic wash or dish tub in the sink. Carefully pour the hot water into it.
- Add 8 ounces of powdered oxygen bleach. Never substitute chlorine bleach. Also, never add oxygen bleach or whites to pots on the stove; doing so can cause a dangerous boilover. The mixture may bubble and foam, so be sure to stand back. Stir with a wooden spoon reserved for this use to ensure that the oxygen bleach has dissolved completely.
- Add whites to the tub. Don’t overfill the tub; each of the item should be fully immersed.
- Let whites soak, periodically agitating them with the wooden spoon, until the water has cooled enough that you can handle the clothing. This may take an hour or more.
- Drain the tub, and rinse each item well in plain water.
- Launder using your regular detergent.