How to Wash White Clothes

Product Care

Follow these easy cleaning tips to keep white clothes looking fresh.

Last updated: 30 September 2022
4 min read
How to Wash White Clothes
Time Required
60 min
Estimated Cost


  • Laundry detergent
  • Oxygen bleach or baking powder
  • Homemade or shop-bought stain treatment (optional)


  • Washing machine
  • Washing line

Fresh white tees are a wardrobe essential, but they can be hard to keep clean. Spills, stains and sweat can build up, causing them to lose their crispness.

With a little bit of TLC, you can revive white garments to their original brightness. Spoiler: contrary to popular belief, traditional laundry bleach may not be the best option to refresh bright, white hues. Check out these five simple steps to wash white clothes.

How to Wash White Clothes

  1. 1.Sort the Laundry.

    How to Wash White Clothes

    It may seem tedious, but if you want to keep whites looking bright, the simplest thing you can do is wash them separately. Dyes from coloured fabrics, like denim, can sometimes bleed in the wash, which can discolour white fabrics.

    To sort the laundry, start by separating white clothes from everything else. Then, separate delicate white garments—like activewear or items made from lace or silk—from the rest of the whites.

    Check tags for care instructions to see which items are machine washable, and follow the directions for the recommended temperature and spin cycle. When in doubt, use cool water and handwash any delicate clothing.

    (Related: How to Wash and Care for a Sports Bra)

  2. 2.Pre-Treat Stains.

    How to Wash White Clothes

    Before you put your clothes in the washing machine, pre-treat any obvious stains—including wine, grass or sweat stains.

    You can buy a commercial stain remover (tip: avoid chlorine bleach) or create your own stain-treatment paste using two parts hydrogen peroxide, one part washing-up liquid and a pinch of baking powder. Apply the solution to any discoloured parts of the garment and let it soak into the fabric for at least an hour before washing.

    In a pinch, you can use liquid detergent instead of stain treatment.

  3. 3.Use a Suitable Detergent.

    How to Wash White Clothes

    Some detergents are better than others for washing white clothes. The type will depend on whether you want to use chemical or non-chemical whiteners.

    Many whitening laundry detergents contain chlorine bleach. This chemical can be too harsh for some fabrics, as it whitens items by removing colour. It's best to only use these products on bleach-safe fabrics (again, check the tag). Avoid using chlorine bleach on wool, elastane, leather or other delicate materials.

    As an alternative, try oxygen-based bleach. It is colour-safe, because it brightens whites without stripping colour from the fabric. You can supplement standard laundry detergent by adding a scoop of powdered or liquid oxygen bleach.

    Alternatively, you could add half a cup of baking powder to the wash instead of oxygen bleach.

    (Related: How to Get Your White Shoes Looking Brand New)

  4. 4.Select the Appropriate Water Temperature.

    How to Wash White Clothes

    To keep whites looking bright, wash white clothes in the hottest water that the garment can handle to remove dirt and grime. To confirm what temperature is right for your clothes, check the tags.

    Generally speaking, warm water (in combination with detergent) is effective at removing oils that cause stains and discolouration, but it's not hot enough to damage fabrics.

    Try not to overload the washer with laundry to ensure every piece of clothing gets rinsed thoroughly.

  5. 5.Dry White Clothes in the Sun.

    How to Wash White Clothes

    Natural sunlight is great for drying white clothing—the UV rays act as a type of natural bleach. When possible, hang-dry white clothing in direct sunlight (however, avoid using this method with colours, as the sun can cause bright colours to fade).

    If you can't air-dry clothes in the sun, dry them in a tumble dryer on the lowest setting. Don't use high heat, which can set stains into the fabric.

Words by Hannah Singleton

Originally published: 30 September 2022

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