Quick Tips For Making Colors Brighter & Whites Whiter

With a few simple items that you likely already have in your home, you can boost laundry items to help keep them looking new (and prevent fading too). Here are a few quick tips from my collection separated into two groups (the first for colors and the second for whites). Many of these have been shared in previous posts on Tipnut but I’ve organized them here on one page for quick reference.

To Prevent Fading or Keep Colors Bright:

Brighten Laundry With These Quick Tips
Brighten Laundry With These Quick Tips
  • Add 1/2 cup vinegar to a load of laundry during the wash cycle.
  • Color Protector: Soak new items in a straight solution of vinegar to protect dyes from running. You can also try soaking them in lightly salted water.
  • Soak new garments and items in a mixture of 1 tsp Epsom salts mixed with one gallon of water. Will help prevent fading and dyes running.
  • One-half cup of household ammonia added to rinse water will help brighten colored clothes. Do not use ammonia if bleach has been used.
  • Turn clothes inside out before washing to help prevent fading (especially helpful for black garments).
  • If line drying outdoors, colored items should be dried in the shade to prevent fading.
  • Pour two cups of strong tea in the rinse cycle to restore dark colors.

Tips For Whiter Whites:

  • Mild bleach: Add 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1/4 cup baking soda to load along with your regular detergent and launder as usual.
  • Add 1 1/2 cups of vinegar to the rinse cycle to whiten clothes.
  • Restore Whites: Fill a large stock pot half full with water and 1 cup of vinegar, bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add garments and let soak overnight. Launder as usual.
  • Add 1/2 cup of powdered dishwasher detergent to the washing machine, allow machine to fill with water to dissolve the powder. Add clothes when water level is about half-way and once the water has stopped filling, open the machine to stop it from running. Let clothes soak for 30 minutes before turning machine back on.
  • Dry on the line outdoors when the sun is hot and bright, the sun is nature’s bleach. You’ll also have fresh smelling laundry without any added chemicals!
  • To whiten laces, wash them in sour milk.
  • To brighten yellowed linens, try adding 2 teaspoons cream of tartar to a pail of water and soak items for a few hours before laundering as usual.
  • Soak clothes overnight in a mixture of 1/2 cup ReaLemon juice (or a sliced lemon) per 1 gallon of hot water. This is a great method for bringing dingy socks back to life.
  • Soak whites overnight in 1/2 cup 3% hydrogen peroxide per quart of cold water. You can also add 3/4 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide to a load of laundry (dissolve in soapy water first before adding clothes) or try adding 1/2 cup to the rinse cycle.
  • Wash clothes with 1/2 cup Borax along with your favorite laundry detergent and then add 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide to the rinse cycle.

Did I miss your tried-and-true? Please share in the comments section below :).

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    • RonNasty64

    Some of these tips are hard to do with a front end loader.

      • Nana

      Most modern washers have a hold cycle and/or a pause button which can be used instead of opening the lid.

      • Mocan

      I add my special ingredients for cleaning straight into the tub of my front end load HE. Then turn on the cycle that has the most water (usually delicate or hand wash) to fill, then let it agitate until it’s mixed well, then turn it off for the number of minutes for soaking. If I don’t feel comfortable putting them in the washer (HE’s don’t like some things) I use a large dish pan or the laundry sink for soaking, then rinse before the final machine wash.

    • Sandra

    I have a HE Front Load washer…Could I put the vinegar where the fabric softener or bleach goes? If so which one? Thanks for all the tips!! I love them.

      • Allie

      I’d love to know also! I add a little bit to each just to be safe…

      Also, how do you do the lemon/baking soda thing with the front-loading washing machine?

        • Patricia Webb

        Does it matter what kind of vinegar you use for getting dinginess out of colored clothes?

          • rosie

          My mother always said to use generic or store brand that it does a better job without yellowing the clothing meant to be whitened.

      • Mae

      Vinegar goes in the fabric softener dispenser.

    • Tonia

    I am using the home made laundry liquid detergent and my whites are getting so blotchy gray they look horrible i have tried everything to get them white again. i need help.

      • Kristine

      I had the samething happen. I used the stock pot method suggested above and hung most of the things on the line.

    • HardestyMom01

    I just used the Mild Bleach recipe today on our whites (1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1/4 cup of baking soda), and OMG! I love it! Passed it on to my mother and sister also! I will continue to use this and will place it in my recipe book to pass along to my daughters when they leave to be on their own. Thank you so much!

    • craftyjean

    Is it white vinegar that is used?

    • Sue

    Hang white cotton clothes that have gotten dingy on a bush outside. The sun works with the clorophyll as a natural bleaching technique.

    • Tammy

    My daughter has a red, white and blue dress made of polyester, rayon, spandex material.
    The white is so dingy that she doesn’t want to wear it , and it’s her favorite dress.
    How do I get the dingy out of the white without fading the color?

      • melissa

      I would try hyrdogen peroxide. Test it in a small inconspicuous area first. Good luck!

    • shannon

    for the lace tip do you hand wash it?

    • Tena

    What about those undergarments with some spandex in them that are a dingy gray now? How can I whiten them up to look beautiful?

    • Corina

    I have a band costume long dress made of spandex. It is white one the front and black on the back side of the dress. So half white/half black. Anyway I washed it with all black costumes in cold water delicate and the black bleed onto the white front of the dress making it a greyish color not white anymore. How can I fix this? I am in frantic mode now. Please any help. 🙁

    • Carmen

    How do I brighten up my girls white sports (spandex) bars w/o wrecking the fibers?

    • Anna

    What is the best way to brighten school shirts that are predominantly white but also have maroon and blue on them

    • Andrea Marie

    Please help me get my daughters pants bright again!! What do I do? She spent 45 dollars on these bright blue, turquoise,black, white,& purple, pants that I washed one time and look dull now, so how can I make them bright again, or is it to late??

    • Samantha

    Hi I have a yellow dress with black an white beading round it, its 98% poliester, it has went dull when wash…please can you tell me how to brighten it up….HELP

    • Sharon

    I have a nylon jacket that is red, white and blue. (atlanta braves jacket) The white part has yellowed, how do I get rid of the yellowed part without fading the colored areas?

    • Jani Ballard

    My daughter-in-law washed my brand new sheets which were a peach color with her and her husbands colored clothes, blue jeans and all. I didn’t know she had done it and dried them in the dryer. They came iutcdingy and dirty looking. What can I do about this? Don’t the younger generation separate their clothes? I noticed my grand daughter does the same thing. All of their clothes are dingy looking.

    • Denise Bussey

    I put a steradent table in with my white wash. The results are remarkable

    • Patricia Harper

    Hi, I have a dark blue and white blouse polyester, the white is really dingy how can I get it back to white. Please help .

    • christine

    I have several white 1/2 zip polyester and spandex tops but have color on the trim. What can I use to brighten the whites but avoid the colors fading or running?

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