How To Wash Sustainably, Part 2 - Washing Whites!
Updated: Jul 15
This week we'll be discussing washing your white clothing & how to do it as sustainably and low-impact as possible. Here we go...
I LOVE white clothes - love love love them. They are smart, fresh and wearing something white for the first time always gives me a secret thrill (weird? Maybe).
But...I am a spiller.
Try as I might, it just happens - and I can guarantee it will happen whenever I have that new white top on. It's just the way it is.
So, how do we deal with washing white clothes, washing them sustainably and keeping them bright - to avoid throwing them away when they are dull. We've been doing a bit of research...
Removing Stains From White Clothing
Vinegar is a wonderful stain remover, and surprisingly doesn't make you smell like a fish 'n' chip shop. If you have a tough stain in white clothing, try creating a paste with distilled white vinegar and baking soda, rub it on the stain and let it sit for 30 minutes. Rinse off the paste and wash as usual. 100% pure lemon and eucalyptus oils are also wonderful stain removers. You can add them directly to the stain then immediately wash, or create a stain remover spray by mixing 10 drops of the oil with water or vinegar in a glass bottle to pre-treat clothes stains before washing.
Bodily Fluids Stains
Yep - we're talking vomit, sweat, urine, blood, pooh and anything else we can produce. Did you know that stains that come from the human body or from animals should be first rinsed in cold water? If you put them straight into warm water or use acids such as vinegar or lemon on them, they actually 'set' the stain, making it incredibly difficult to remove.
Removing Oil Stains
Oil stains should not be blotted, as you would assume, but instead try sprinkling cornflour and sea salt on the stain to draw out the moisture. Then try soaking it in vinegar or baking soda, rinse then wash as normal.
Removing Wine Stains
Thin liquid stains such as wine, should be first blotted, then soaked in water and vinegar before washing as normal.
Yellow Underarm Stains
These can be a pain. For these stains, again try the white vinegar and baking soda paste, let it sit for 30 minutes then rinse and wash as usual. Spraying eucalyptus oil on the collars or under arms of clothing can also help before washing. When drying, try and get the stains exposed to the sun. UV rays have a natural bleaching action as well as destroy bacteria.
What to Wash Your Whites With
While liquid gels work well, powdered washing detergents in general will be more effective when washing white clothing. They work harder, but with that comes a downside - they are also more abrasive, meaning more wear on your clothes.
The downside of liquid detergents however is that while they are more gentle, you may not get that 'bright white' look you are after. They also inevitably come in a plastic bottle and create waste.
Have you ever tried adding eucalyptus oil to your washing? It's great for killing bacteria and odours naturally, and also leaves a great smell of its own. Just add 10-20 drops (or adjust to your preference) to your detergent drawer and wash as normal.
What Temperature To Wash White Clothes At
This is a tough one. There's no getting around it - washing whites at a higher temperature does keep them whiter. Always check the label for the temperature to wash at (remember, that's the maximum temperature to wash at NOT the recommended). While this will work well for whites, it doesn't work so well for the earth or your wallet. The majority of the energy used in a washing machine cycle is in heating the water, which uses electricity. Try to limit the amount of times you do a high temperature wash as much as you can.
Always, always, always remember to separate your whites from your colours and darks. This is essential and one of the most common ways that whites turn grey.
Hand Washing Your White Clothes
Ultimately, handwashing will be gentler on your clothes and keep your whites whiter for longer. Arianne and I both agree - new white T shirt - ALWAYS a hand wash. Mum you taught me well. Handwashing allows you more control of temperature, detergent, abrasion and also the other clothes that are next to the item or in the same washing water. We know it's a pain, but it does work.
If you aren't much of a spiller, try to wash your white items a little less where possible - this is the most eco-friendly and sustainable way to prolong clothes, especially whites. It will keep them brighter longer and reduce wear and tear too. Ultimately, this is the very easiest way to look after your clothes and increase their longevity. The wonderfully stylish Italians wear their finest clothes while out and about, but religiously change when they return home, into more casual clothing, allowing them to launder their most treasured items less.
Do you have any tips or tricks for washing whites? We'd love to hear them in the comments below (and we'll be telling everyone we know too)! We love sharing knowledge and those little gems of information that can really make the difference.
Next time we'll be looking at how to wash white clothes with colours on them - stripey wash anyone (Hi Cath)?
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Wishing you a wonderful weekend full of sun, fun and wind to get that washing dry naturally!
Lots of love,
Keelly & Arianne xxx