White clothes are a must-have in any closet since you can match them with any color and still look fashionable. However, one typical mystery surrounding this versatile apparel is why do white clothes turn yellow.
We’ll share the reasons for the discoloration in this article and reveal tips to avoid and remedy this frustrating problem.
4 Laundering Mistakes That Turn White Clothes Yellow
White clothes have many advantages, but one setback is that sometimes they turn yellow while in storage. Here are some reasons why.
You may not realize it, but rinsing plays an integral part in how your clothes will turn out in the future. A good rinsing can flush out all the dirt and grime that was loosened by the detergent. It also prevents stains from settling and removes excess soap.
Unrinsed detergent can form a layer on the fabric making your clothes prone to oxidation and yellowing. Thorough rinsing can also remove chemicals that cause skin irritation and unpleasant smells.
A chemical reaction from oxygen and certain chemicals hiding in your clothes can result in white clothes becoming yellow. Oxidation stains happen when you cannot thoroughly clean your clothes before storing them.
Even if your white apparel looks clean, sometimes the naked eye can’t see some residues. White wine spills, for example, aren’t obvious, but they can cause brown or yellow stains after a few days.
Using Too Much Bleach
Bleach is a known whitening product for garments, but ironically, it can cause white clothes to turn yellow if you use too much. Bleach is a strong chemical that breaks down the cloth fibers repeatedly. When fabrics become weak, they are more prone to staining and yellowing.
Soaking garments in bleach or not correctly rinsing them off can accelerate their decay. Dry cleaning will be your best bet if you have delicate apparel instead of bleaching.
Using Too Little Detergent
If too much bleach can harm your clothes, then using too little detergent can damage them. Sometimes the desire to save on laundry soap becomes counterproductive and can cost more in the long run.
When you use detergent less than what is recommended by the manufacturer, dirt fails to dissolve. When this nasty grime remains on the clothes, it can make them turn yellow once they are in storage.
Other Reasons Why White Clothes Become Yellow
While the most obvious reasons behind the yellowing of clothes come from laundry errors, there are other causes for this annoying dilemma.
Combination of Sweat and Antiperspirants
Some white shirts, especially the cotton ones, turn yellow in the armpit area. It happens when sweat reacts with the aluminum compounds found in most deodorants. Residue builds up in that inconspicuous area with continued use, and the yellow stain becomes harder to remove.
Your Hard Water Supply
Hard water means that your water supply has dissolved magnesium and calcium compounds.
These minerals do not react well with laundry detergents. Please remember that the greater the amount of minerals present, the more significant its impact on your laundry.
The detergent could not mix with hard water properly, resulting in an ineffective cleaning solution.
The minerals adhere to the soap and create a sticky substance that bonds with the cloth’s fibers. The soap curd draws in more grime and dirt that causes white clothes to turn yellow.
Excessive Dryer Heat
When you dry clothes that still have some soil residue in the dryer, it results in yellowing of the garments. Excessive heat from dryers sets stains and causes discoloration of fabrics that you couldn’t properly wash.
Overdrying can also make your clothes look old and worn out. It can give your white clothes a yellowish tinge and your colored clothes a faded look.
Dyes Used in the Fabric
Contrary to popular notions, white fabrics aren’t naturally white. Manufacturers use white dye on materials to achieve the desired color.
The chemicals used to color the fabric and make it durable break down or decay over time, resulting in a yellow garment. This chemical reaction is more prevalent in clothes stored for a more extended period in the closet.
Acid Content of Some Storage Boxes
Some storage containers such as wooden chests, cardboard boxes, or plastic drawers contain acid. The gasses these compounds emit seep into the fabric, resulting in yellow stains.
Closets that haven’t been adequately cleaned can also make clothes yellow. When chemical compounds in the wood react with dirt and moisture, they can contaminate the white garments and turn them yellow.
How to Prevent Your White Clothes From Turning Yellow
The following tips can help prevent the dreaded yellowing of your favorite white clothes.
Tip # 1. Avoid overloading your washing machine.
As mentioned earlier in this article, poor rinsing can turn clothes yellow. When your washing machine is crowded, it can’t circulate and clean the clothes properly. The laundry soap can’t also fully interact with the dirt on the garments when there’s no room for them to move.
Check the washing machine instructions for the appropriate amount of clothes that one wash can handle. You may be tempted to add a few more pieces to maximize resources, but this action may compromise the quality of your apparel.
Tip #2. Measure laundry detergent accurately.
Using too little detergent can cause white clothes to turn yellow, so it would be best always to use the exact amount. Follow the laundry soap’s label instructions and resist the urge to overuse or underuse detergent.
Too much soap may produce many suds that can trap dirt and stains. The key is to always be on the safe side and measure detergent accordingly.
Tip # 3. Air dry your whites, if possible.
If you don’t mind the extra work associated with hanging your clothes outdoors, then air-drying your white clothes is a great idea. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can help whiten and brighten your garments.
If air drying is not possible, using the dryer set to low heat is the next best thing. Remember that too much heat can also result in the yellowing of your clothes.
Tip # 4. Treat your hard water.
First, test your water supply for hard water. You can buy several kits in hardware stores or online to check for minerals in your water.
If the test shows that you have hard water, then the next step is to manage your supply. One permanent fix is to have a home water softening system installed. It may be an expensive solution, but it will last for a very long time.
A less costly alternative is to use a water softener that you add to your laundry. You may use it by itself to maintain the whiteness of new clothes. However, for dresses that have already turned yellow, you may use the product together with borax.
Your Guide to Wearing White
Why Wear White?
Many people love wearing white, especially during the summer months, since it looks and feels cool and fresh. Aside from these positive effects, wearing white also offers the following benefits:
● White clothing is a sign of efficiency and stability
Have you ever wondered why doctors and other medical professionals wear white coats? It is because the color white conveys cleanliness and efficiency. It also exudes a feeling of reassurance, making patients feel calm and peaceful.
● White clothing is cool and sophisticated at the same time
White clothes reflect sunlight and heat, making them an excellent choice for your summer wardrobe. It helps you look fresh and neat no matter what the occasion. If you wear white satin or lace clothes, you can look very sophisticated as well.
● White clothing is timeless
White clothes never go out of style. You can match them with any accessory or apparel of any color and still look put together.
Tips on How to Wear White
- If you have a full figure or heavier from the waist down, here are some tips on how to wear white bottoms:
- Wear pants made from sturdy fabric.
- Avoid trousers that have cuffs.
- Wear colored shirts or blouses to attract attention to the upper part of your body.
- Wear a white jacket, an open blouse, or vest with a darker top underneath to make your torso look longer.
- The best shapes for white clothes are those that flow over the body. White dresses, for example, are better when they are loose and not skin tight. When white garments are too tight, they tend to show bumps and lumps of the wearer.
- To make your white get up more exciting, always add an accessory with a pop of color. A brightly-hued purse, bracelet, scarf, or jacket can make your look stand out.
- Always wear lingerie that matches your skin tone. You wouldn’t want it to be the highlight of your look.
Why do white clothes turn yellow? There are several reasons for the discoloration, and most of them happen in the laundry room. It would be best to investigate the root cause of the problem to provide the best solution.
White clothes are fashionable, sophisticated, and refreshing to wear, so we encourage you to take the steps necessary to keep them neat and bright.
Jessica Oliver is a fashion enthusiast with more than ten years of experience in the industry. She previously managed her own clothing store in New York before becoming a mother of three. With a passion for sustainability and a desire to share clothing care and recycling tips.