Step-by-Step Guide: How to Make White Clothes White Again

Are you struggling to remove stains and brighten your laundry? Here are the steps on how to make clothes white again.

Updated 2 October 2023


AuthorBy Cleanipedia Team

Reading Time5 minutes

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It can be harder than we would like to keep our white clothes bright and clean, especially as white is such an easy colour to stain. This guide will help you learn how to make white clothes white again and keep them looking great wear after wear.

Key Steps:

  • Pre-soak as a first step in how to make white clothes white again.

  • Use products like Persil to wash your white laundry and keep it bright, clean and fresh.

  • Use lemon juice or distilled white vinegar to lift colour stains from your white clothes

You will need:

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  • How to make clothes white again

    When it comes to understanding how to make white clothes white again, the best way is to pre-soak them. This method is also effective when you want to learn how to get stains out of white clothes. Here are three key soaking techniques you could try:

    1. 1

      Laundry detergent

      Adding ¼ cup of detergent powder, like Persil, to a sink full of warm water. Soaking your white clothes for two hours in the solution before a normal wash works to whiten them

      Make white clothes white again
    2. 2

      Baking soda

      Dissolving one cup of baking soda in four litres of warm water makes not only a great whitening solution but also an effective deodoriser. After all, a University of Iowa study reported that baking soda has antibacterial properties.[2] So, it’s likely a powerful solution for eliminating bad odours. 

      Soak your white clothes in the solution for around eight hours before popping them in your usual wash.

      image of baking soda
    3. 3

      Lemon juice

      Boil two sliced (not halved) lemons in a large stockpot of water and then remove it from the heat. Then add your white clothes to soak for an hour. The lemon juice works as a great whitener. Besides, you can use it to remove sweat stains from white shirts and other clothes.

  • Removing stains from white clothes using white vinegar

    Do your white clothes just need a little bit of brightening and you haven’t stocked up on detergent? Well, you can try washing them with white vinegar

    1. 1

      Add vinegar to the fabric softener compartment

      Add half a cup of distilled white vinegar to the fabric softener compartment of your washing machine.

    2. 2

      Use your regular detergent

      Use your usual detergent and of course following any appropriate instructions on the care label. Have a look at our article if you’re not sure what the washing symbols mean.

    3. 3

      Wash in the washing machine

      Wash your whites in your washing machine.

    The great thing about this method is that vinegar doesn’t bleach anything with colours in it. It also won’t leave a smell behind and will get rid of any remaining alkalinity from your detergent in the last rinse.

    However, if your goal is to disinfect your clothes while brightening them, vinegar may not be the ideal solution. According to a University of Melbourne study, vinegar is only 80% as effective as bleach in disinfecting items.[1] So, choose the products according to the results you want to achieve.

  • How to remove colour stains from white clothes using detergent

    White clothes are so easy to stain, especially if a red sock or a blue shirt has found its way into a white wash. Here’s how to deal with colour stains using a good detergent.

    1. 1

      Wash your white clothing with a laundry capsule

      Pop a capsule in your washing machine, then put your white laundry in there.

    2. 2

      Wash at 40 degrees

      Wash on a normal cycle at 40°C.

    3. 3

      Air-dry the clothing

      Let the clothes air-dry, preferably in sunlight as the sun’s rays can help bleach the stains.

    4. 4

      Pre-treat any remaining stains

      Spot-check for any remaining stains. If you find any, you can pre-treat the stains with a little Persil Bio Liquid for 15–30 minutes before washing again.

    Pro Tip: Follow our guide to using laundry capsules to discover strategies on whitening your clothes.

  • How to bleach white clothes

    Bleaching white clothing should be done with caution. So, here's how to bleach white clothes properly to remove stains.

    Use biocides safely. Always read the label and product information before use.

    1. 1

      Soak your clothes in cold water

      With a container, add cold water and soak your clothes. Ensure all the clothes are completely soaked.

    2. 2

      Add bleach to the clothing in the container

      Add a few tablespoons of bleach into the container where your white clothing is soaked.

    3. 3

      Stir everything in the container and soak for 10 minutes

      Stir everything together to make sure everything is soaked completely. Allow the clothes to soak for about 10 minutes.

      Bleach can weaken or damage your fabrics if you soak for too long.
    4. 4

      Remove and wash through with cold water

      After 10 minutes, remove the clothing and wash thoroughly with cold water.

    5. 5

      Leave to dry

      Remove any excess water and leave to dry.

  • Alternative methods to removing colour stains from white clothes

    If you want to know how to make clothes white again without bleach, these steps using lemon juice or distilled white vinegar will help:

    1. 1

      Dab lemon juice or vinegar onto the stain

      Dab the lemon juice or distilled white vinegar directly onto the stain.

    2. 2

      Scrub with an old toothbrush

      Use an old toothbrush to scrub the stain for a couple of minutes.

    3. 3

      Leave to soak for ten minutes

      Leave the liquid to soak for up to ten more minutes, then rinse out the liquid.

    4. 4

      Wash normally

      Wash your clothes as normal.

    Alternatively, if you have a stain that is still wet and fresh you can rub a little salt into it, which will help to absorb the moisture and lift away the stain whilst still in its liquid state.

FAQs about whitening clothes

Q: Does baking soda whiten clothes?

Studies have shown that sodium bicarbonate or baking soda has whitening properties.[3] So, it can also be effective in brightening clothes.

Q: How can I make white clothes white again without bleach?

As we’ve shared in this article, you can use white vinegar, lemon and baking soda to whiten your clothes without bleach.

Q: How do you get yellow out of white clothes?

If you want to take the yellow out of white clothes, you can create a DIY solution. In a spray bottle, mix half a cup of hydrogen peroxide, a quarter cup of cold water, three tablespoons of baking soda, and three tablespoons of dish soap. Shake the bottle and spray the solution on the yellow stain. Let the solution sit for at least an hour, then wash it in cold water and dry it under the sun.

How to maintain white clothes?

Maintaining white clothes requires extra care to preserve their brightness and prevent discolouration. Start by separating white garments from coloured ones during laundry. Pre-treat stains promptly using a stain remover or a paste made of baking soda and water. Then, wash white clothes in a gentle cycle using a quality detergent formulated for whites. 

Hang white clothes to dry in sunlight, as the sun's natural bleaching effect can help maintain their whiteness. Store white clothes in a clean, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent yellowing or fading.

These are some of the tips for removing stains from white clothes and steps for how to make clothes white again. By following our advice, you will be able to rejuvenate your wardrobe and keep your white laundry as bright as ever from wash to wear. Now, for shoes, read our article on the best ways to clean your Converse.


1. Almeida, C. D. S. S. E., Purcell, D. F. J., Godfrey, D. I., & McAuley, J. (2022). The efficacy of common household cleaning agents for SARS-COV-2 infection control. Viruses, 14(4), 715.

2. Antibacterial activity of baking soda. (1997). PubMed.

3. Li, Y. (2017). Stain removal and whitening by baking soda dentifrice. Journal of the American Dental Association, 148(11), S20–S26.

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