It’s frustrating when you buy a pearly white dress shirt, only for it to fade to a darker tone after just a few washes. While clothes of all colors are susceptible to fading, whites are particularly problematic. It’s not that whites fade more than other colors, but rather the fading is more noticeable because of their original color. Thankfully, there are several steps you can take to preserve the color and brightness of your white dress shirts.
#1) Wash Whites Separately
Try to get into the habit of washing your whites in a separate load. While it’s probably easier to toss all of your clothes into the same load — whites, blacks, blues, etc. — doing so causes the colors to bleed together, in which case your whites are more likely to fade.
#2) Pre-Treat Stains Before Washing
Before washing your white dress shirts, check them for stains. Assuming it’s a topical stain that hasn’t “set” yet, water and laundry detergent alone should clean it. You can give your washing machine a helping hand, however, by pre-treating stains on your white shirts beforehand. Simply apply a small amount of color-safe stain remover to the affected area, gently scrub it with an old toothbrush, and place it in the washing machine.
#3) Follow the Care Label
Of course, it’s also a good idea to read and follow the care label on your white dress shirts. Here, you’ll find specific instructions by the manufacturer regarding how to wash, clean and care for the shirt. Because different shirts are made with different fabrics and construction, some have different caring instructions. Following the advice listed on your shirt’s care label will help preserve its pearly white color.
#4) Wash with Cold Water
Some people assume that washing clothes in cold water is less effective than hot water. In reality, there’s very little difference between the cleaning power of hot and cold water. Furthermore, washing with hot water increases the risk of color bleeding. So, if you’re worried that your white dress shirt will fade in the washing machine, set your machine to cold water instead of hot.
#5) Wash with Vinegar
In addition to cold water, you can also preserve the brightness of your white dress shirts by washing them with vinegar. Adding one cup of white vinegar to the load helps “set” the color and subsequently reduces the risk of fading and bleeding. Furthermore, vinegar acts as a natural fabric softener, making your dress shirts softer and even more comfortable to wear.