Whiten Up: 7 Tips to Keep Your Summer Whites White

My feeling is this. Life is messy, but your clothing shouldn’t be…especially when it comes to your summer whites. I know what you are thinking. Black, navy, gray and tan are easier. And maybe they are.  But nothing says “summer” and keeps you cooler than white. What’s more, white is every bit as versatile as your favorite dark neutral, albeit more seasonally appropriate.

As I see it, the only hiccup with wearing white is that white doesn’t seem to stay white for very long (especially if you live in NYC).  What’s a gal (or a guy, for that matter) to do? Read on for some helpful tips to help you keep your favorite white items clean and pristine.

Divide and conquer. Sort whites and launder them separately to prevent any color transfer. Even if your colors don’t appear to bleed, they can still mute your whites so why chance it? I recommend making at least three distinct piles – whites, darks and lights. For those among us who are more laundry enthusiastic, consider an additional sort of jeans and delicates.

Pre-treat stains pronto. As soon as you see a stain, get to work! Simple liquid dish soap and water can do the trick. Before washing the item in the machine, check to see if the stains have vanished. As with most things in life, if first you don’t succeed, try again. It’s worth noting that not all stains respond well to the to the same treatment method. For example, you may be able to remove a red wine stain with white wine, but don’t expect the same solution to work on ink! For a list of common laundry stain remedies, check out: Common Laundry Stain Remedies.

Embrace eco-friendly. I know that all of our parents probably used chlorine bleach back in the day, but that was before we knew that it could be responsible for some respiratory issues, allergies, and other ailments. Safer, healthier options include the “natural oxygen” bleaches found in health food stores. Alternatively, why not DIY by adding ½ cup of lemon juice to the rinse cycle? Lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent and has been found to work wonders to brighten whites.

Wash your washing machine. Admittedly, this may sound a little silly, but the residual surface dirt left by doing several loads of laundry can rub off on your whites. After every seven to ten washes, run your washing machine as if you have a full load of laundry, but don’t actually fill it with any clothes. Admittedly this may be a bit more of a commitment for those of us who share our laundry facilities in an apartment, coop or condo but I promise – your whites will thank you!

Skip the dryer. You should avoid putting your white clothing items in the dryer, as this can sometimes turn whites yellow (not a good look). High heat can also set stains that you didn’t even know were there. Play it safe and hang or lay flat your favorite whites to dry.  Note: another good rule of thumb is to carefully inspect your whites before tossing them in your laundry basket.

Be a layer player.  A white blouse will have a prolonged life – not to mention fewer perspiration marks – if worn with a cami or tank underneath. Have multiples on hand and retire as necessary.

Add a stain remover or bleach pen to your tote or backpack. If you are a stain magnet like I am, these are what I call “indispensable items.” Either or both can save the day by removing a stain before it becomes permanent. With these items you can also be a lifesaver for someone else.

It’s important to remember that no matter how outstanding our laundry skills or how careful we are when we wear it, white has a limited life expectancy of a season or two. It’s why I always recommend that if you find a wonderful white item that you absolutely love, consider buying multiples.

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