How To Wash White Cotton Clothes

It can be argued that whites made from cotton are literally more in abundance than whites made from any other fabric. If that’s true, it’s no surprise, cotton is the king of the fabric world anyways.

In a world where cotton is king, and whites are the easiest ways to make a statement, how do you wash your white cotton clothes so they look good as new all the time? 

When it comes to washing white clothes, wash them alone in warm to hot water and a quality detergent, and make sure to use chlorine bleach from time to time to banish stubborn stains completely and make your whites appear whiter. 

Of course, the above answer paragraph contains only a summary of how you can properly wash your white cotton clothes at home. There is more to washing white cotton clothes than simply putting them in the washing machine and using bleach to banish stains. 

Below, we discuss extensively on how to properly care for and maintain your white cotton clothes, so you’ll be able to make them last longer.

Washing white cotton clothes

Wash them alone

This can never be over emphasized, whenever you have white cotton clothes to wash, make sure to wash them alone. 

The polymer system of cotton has great affinity for dye molecules, and because of that, if you wash white cotton clothes with items that bleed, the dye will transfer easily into the cotton cloth and ruin it. 

That’s why washing whites with colors is a bad idea. But washing whites with other whites of similar structure and size? Absolutely. 

You can wash white cotton clothes with white polyester or even linen. Just make the laundry batch contain clothes of similar size and structure, to avoid stories that touch the soul when your clothes come out of the washer. 

If you’re not sure what is meant by clothes of similar size and structure, here’s an example. Washing a delicate t-shirt material with a bedding item like a duvet, or a really delicate pajama with a large body towel or cotton jeans.

Use bleach on them to improve appearance

Cotton is one of the few fibers that can tolerate bleaching. Either chlorine or non-chlorine bleach is safe to use on raw cotton, but always check to confirm from the fabric care label as some cotton materials can be finished in certains ways that bleach might affect. 

When it comes to bleaching, use chlorine based ones on white clothes, and avoid  using them on colored clothes. Non-chlorine-based bleaches can be used on both white and colored clothes however.

Chlorine bleach should be added to cotton clothes at least 5 to 10 minutes after washing has begun. This practice is backed with a lot of knowledge. You get to prevent destruction of specific elements in more than detergent by the application of bleach with such a delay timing.

If you have a washing machine that automatically dispenses bleach, which means you have a modern washing machine, then you have nothing to worry about because the washing machine automatically dispenses bleach at least 5 minutes after washing has begun.

Add ½ cups of vinegar to the wash cycle

Vinegar is a mild disinfectant and so adding a half a cup of it to your rinse cycle can help with disinfection of your white clothes, especially when you don’t have bleach or a fabric sanitizer.

Not to mention that vinegar also helps to remove soiling and stains and also helps to improve the feel of clothes after they dry out.

Use detergents with brighteners in them

If you want to achieve white clothes that turn whiter after washing, then it’s a good idea to use detergents that have optical brighteners in them. These would work to brighten the fibers so your clothes appear shiny and radiant.

When picking detergent for washing whites also, make sure to go for detergents from reputable companies as these likely do not contain chemicals that can cause damage to your fabric at the cost of whitening it.

Treat stains before washing

In case you didn’t know, heat can cause stains to set permanently into fabrics. And the heat can come from the water you’re using to wash the clothes in the washer, or from the dryer. 

It’s always a good idea, not just for white clothes only, but for all clothes, to treat stains on them before putting them in the washing machine and eventually the dryer. 

There are a variety of ways you can treat stains on clothes, but when you’re dealing with white clothes, you have to be very careful to avoid spreading the stains to other areas of the fabric.

If you’re treating stains on white cotton clothes, you should try as much as possible to isolate the affected spot from the rest of the areas. And make sure the treatment you’re doing is directed at that particular spot only.

Stains on white cotton clothes are best treated when they are still fresh, so if you have a spill (of sauce) on your white clothes or a coffee spill on it, or even grease and oil stains from working in the kitchen, apply a thick mixture of water and a quality liquid detergent or dish soap. Work it into the area using a soft sponge and let it sit for a while. Rinse with warm water and launder immediately.

Sometimes, you’re going to have stains that have already set-in as you’re not able to notice them one time.  For these types of stains, you can try the solution from above and if that doesn’t work, you should opt for professional stain removal products like OxiClean and Clorox. Make sure to use them as directed by the manufacturer.

When using these types of products, it’s always a good idea to do a little spot test to determine how sensitive the fabric is to that particular product. Failure to do so could result in a fabric that is destroyed or discolored after treatment.

Avoid using fabric softener directly on clothes

With white cotton clothes, you have the option to use fabric softeners. Fabric softeners do not affect cotton clothes the way they affect materials like silk and polyester. 

When you’re applying fabric softener manually to cotton clothes, make sure to target water spots in the rinse water and do not apply fabric softener directly on the surface of clothes. That can cause discoloration. 

Alternatively, if your washing machine has a fabric softener dispenser, it’s so much better to use it as the product will be dispensed properly at the appropriate time also.

Dry in the dryer

Cotton hates anything to do with sunlight, especially the ultraviolet rays of the sun. They cause the dye molecules in cotton fibers to break down and as a result, the fabric appears faded or discolored with time.

Because of this, the best way to dry cotton clothes is in the dryer or in a shaded area outside. If you’re using the dryer, opt for any heat setting you want, but the best advice would be to go for low to moderate heat setting as subjecting cotton to high heat consistently will cause the fabric to deteriorate faster.

Final Thoughts

It might sound like a big challenge to care for and maintain white clothes. And while it is for some fabric fibers, it isn’t true for cotton clothes. With cotton, cleaning whites is as easy as abc. 

White cotton clothes hate having stains left on them until they set-in, they like to be bleached, and to be cleaned properly and regularly with quality detergent.

When cleaning white cotton clothes, consider disinfecting them from time to time to kill pathogens and bacteria that can breed on them and cause them to wear down faster, and feel free to use any water temperature of your choice for washing, except the fabric care label states otherwise.