The Queen of Clean, Linda Cobb, offers great tips to not only keep your white clothes white, but will also make your dingy clothes look like new. Her tips also extend to your sheets and towels.
Check out her suggestions below:
Separate your colors: “The biggest mistake people make is that they don’t really separate their loads,” says Linda Cobb, author of nine books, including Talking Dirty Laundry with the Queen of Clean. “Even light colors can transfer onto whites, so make a pile for clothes that are white only, no exceptions, then wash light clothes together in their own load.”
Don’t use too much detergent: More sometimes translates to less. “Too much detergent and fabric softener coats fabrics,” says Cobb. “When there is a lot of residue on clothes it acts like a magnet and sticks to dirt.” Yes, too much detergent actually makes your clothes dirtier. No matter how much detergent you use, be sure your load of clothes are well rinsed.
Consider optical brighteners: Also called “bluing” agents, these products add a trace of blue to yellowed or dingy whites. Since white and yellow are complimentary colors, the products create the appearance of a whiter white. “You can use Mrs. Stewart’s Liquid Bluing, which works fantastic,” says Cobb, “but follow the directions. You can’t pour it on clothes directly or put in the machine’s detergent dispenser, or it will spot them.” Cobb suggest keeping a clean food jar in your laundry area to mix the bluing with water, then add the mixture to your laundry.
Dry clothes on low heat: Cobb says heat can singe or scorch fabrics, making them appear yellow. She strongly suggests always following the drying directions on the label. She further suggests you always use a lower heat setting, and taking the clothes out of the dryer while they’re a little bit damp.
Only use bleach on cotton: “Chlorine bleach can be very damaging to some fabrics,” says Cobb. It can actually turn some fabrics yellow or grey when you are trying to turn them white. Cobb continues by saying, “Bleach is fine for cotton socks, underwear and towels, but isn’t great for poly-blends.”
Try lemon juice: Lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent and works particularly well on white clothes. Cobb suggests using the hottest water that’s safe for the fabric, and mixing in half a cup of lemon juice. “Then soak the clothes for an hour or overnight, and wash as usual the next day.”
Add borax: “Borax softens hard water, removes residue and boosts the quality of detergent,” says Cobb. “It’s all-natural and safe to use, and it works great on whitening whites.” Be sure to follow the directions on the box.
Try automatic dishwater detergent: Dishwater detergent “has brighteners and very good cleaners in it, making it good for things like kids’ socks and underwear,” says Cobb. The brand is not important; just add a couple of tablespoons into a couple of gallons of water, and wash clothes.
Hydrogen peroxide: “Hydrogen peroxide is 100 percent natural and you can make a great spot-remover from it,” says Cobb. Mix one part Dawn Original or Dawn Ultra dish detergent (it must be one of these two and not another Dawn product, according to Cobb) and two parts hydrogen peroxide. Then work the mixture into the collar, underarms or any other tough spots on clothes. You can keep the mixture in a squirt bottle for easy access. You can also use this trick: combine ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide with ½ cup of baking soda and 1 cup water and use that on spots and stains.
White Brite: If you prefer not to make your own whitener, Cobb loves White Brite. “It removes yellowing, dinginess and even rust stains. You can use it on colored clothes, too,” she says. “A little goes a long way.”
A bit more about the Queen of Clean: Linda Cobb has been recognized as the “go-to” cleaning women for television shows such as Oprah, Dr. Phil, The View, The Today Show, and Live with Regis and Kelly. She also does radio spots. She is the best-selling author of Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean, The Queen of Clean Conquers Clutter, and Talkind Dirty Laundry with the Queen of Clean.