Pretty much everyone has at least one memory of the time a lovely white article of their clothing ended up becoming depressingly-less-than-white. Maybe it was chocolate, or red wine, or brushing against something dirty, or sitting in the wrong place, or a red-sock-in-the-washer disaster, or –god forbid, that most heinous of horrors– an early and unwelcome appearance by good ol’ Aunt Flo. All of those things, though, can be in some way attributable to user error. You should have watched what you were eating, or drinking, or where you were going, or sitting, or what you put into the washing machine, or what date it was. So, much as it sucks (and it does), you really have only yourself to blame.

Sometimes, though, there is no user error. Sometimes, your white clothes just spontaneously turn yellow due to absolutely no fault of your own, and it’s bloody infuriating.

Upon returning from my trip to Gran Canaria, I noticed that my very favourite pair of white cargo shorts (shut up; they’re comfortable and they’ve got pockets and they ensure my thighs don’t burn) had gone horribly yellow in places. I hadn’t even done anything wrong! Disaster. Why is this happening to me?, I wondered. And then I remembered that it was 2014, and nobody has to wonder about anything anymore: they just have to Google.

Yellowing of white clothing is apparently due to chemical residues, mainly from bleach. Considering that I generally don’t use bleach to clean my clothes (I use Bold with Vanish Oxi Action, for the record), I was skeptical of this, but decided to follow the advice anyway. I filled up a dish with lots of Oxi Action and boiling water and popped in the pants. (Note: too much Vanish and it may bubble over the sides and all over your floor. Not that this happened to me, or anything.) When I was finished, I popped the pants and the remainder of the water into the machine and put it on rinse cycle.

Did it work? It definitely did! I am pleased to report that my whites are now whiter than white once more.

Moral of the story? Yellowing whites suck, but they can be fixed. You just need hot water, Vanish, and a cloth to wipe up all the fizzy foam from the floor. Make sure you don’t try this over carpet!

Have you ever saved your whites from the grip of age? Do you have a better tip for how to keep your whites sparkling? Drop me a line and let me know!



  1. Posted May 10, 2014 at 22:26 | Permalink | Reply

    I always use bleach when I’m washing my white clothes. I can’t bear it when it just get’s a little off 😛

    • Posted May 11, 2014 at 10:43 | Permalink | Reply

      I can’t either, but apparently bleach is actually the cause of the yellowing in some cases? Something to do with a reaction between the residue left and air/sunlight. 😦 I think I’ll see if I can do without it in the future, except for the ol’ Vanish, which supposedly doesn’t contain bleach!

      Thanks for commenting; good luck with your whites in the future! x

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