white clothes that yellowed

How to Whiten White Clothes That Have Yellowed

White items of clothing can become yellowed for a number of reasons.

The main cause of yellowing in white clothes is our natural body oils and sweat mixing with the various ingredients found in deodorants and other antiperspirants.

Other reasons include exposure to too much chlorine bleach, not storing white clothing properly, and improper washing or rinsing.

What’s the best method to whiten white clothes that have gone yellow? There are several methods that are effective in returning yellowed garments to their original bright white colour.

Try out the methods below, which should restore your white clothes to their former brilliance.


1. Oxygen-Based Bleach

bleaching white clothes

When using bleach, much of the whitening process takes place before you add your white clothing to the washing machine.

The first step in eradicating the yellowness from white items is to soak them in warm water mixed with oxygen bleach.

Depending on which brand of bleach you are choosing to use, always follow the instructions on the packaging in order to know how much bleach to add to the water.


2. Bicarbonate of Soda

baking soda for whitening clothes

Bicarbonate of soda (also known as baking soda) is a natural whitening agent, as well as an excellent stain remover and general household cleaning aid.

Additionally, bicarbonate of soda is a natural deodoriser and can assist with eradicating any lingering smells on your garments.

Add one cup of bicarbonate of soda to four litres of water and soak your yellowed white items overnight in this mixture.

Once the garments are done soaking add them to your usual wash cycle in your washing machine, along with your favourite washing detergent.


3. Lemon Juice

adding lemon juice in wash cycle

Lemon juice is a well-known and much-trusted stain remover and is one of the most affordable and accessible methods.

Simply cut two or three lemons into slices and add them to boiled water, allowing them to boil with the water for a while before taking them off the heat and adding your garments to soak for at least an hour.

Once the items have soaked for long enough then add them to your washing machine and run your usual cycle with your favourite detergent.


4. Stain Remover Products

using stain remover to whiten clothes

There are also a number of products available that have been made specifically for the purpose of whitening clothes. One of the more popular products is Vanish Oxi Action Crystal White Powder.

This product can be used alongside your regular detergent during a wash cycle in your washing machine. It is highly effective at whitening clothes that have gone yellow or grey.


5. White Vinegar

using vinegar to whiten clothes

If you don’t have access to the various products mentioned above, white vinegar is always effective against various types of stains. You can add the vinegar directly to the drum of your washing machine, or to the fabric softener compartment.

This will help lift any stains or discolouration on your clothes, including any yellowing.


How to Prevent White Clothes from Yellowing

sort clothes by colour

The best way to prevent white clothes from yellowing is to wash them after every wear. Don’t let the perspiration and oils from your body spend too long sinking into the fabric. 

In addition, be sure to carefully separate your whites from your colours when doing your washing. 

You can even consider adding a stain remover product to any areas of concern, such as the collars and cuffs of white items, which tend to yellow first. 



Seeing signs of yellowing on your favourite white items of clothing can be very frustrating, but this does not mean that it’s the end of the line for these garments! 

Give the options on this list a try and there should be a visible difference in the whiteness of your clothes.