Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Experiments in housekeeping...



Several years ago we had linen cupboards full of faded, threadbare, and mismatched towels and washcloths. When I went shopping for more, I decided to buy all white, so that they could be used in either bathroom and so that I could bleach them and keep them white. That plan has not worked out so well. They got really dingy and gray, and bleaching did not remedy that.

Last week I went online to find tips to whiten whites. One that I found gave this formula:

add 1 cup powdered Cascade automatic dishwasher detergent
and 1 cup Clorox 2 powder
to 5 gallons of the hottest tap water possible

Add whites to the liquid, and soak overnight. (This is for WHITE articles ONLY! And be careful not to let the liquid splash on your colored clothing.)

The next morning, I ran them through a wash and rinse cycle of the washer without any detergent to thoroughly rinse them . Then I ran them through another wash cycle with detergent and a cup of bleach. As you can see in the photos above, they are a little better, but they are not as white as the new unused cloth I placed on the top of the before and the after stacks for comparison.

I was telling a friend about the procedure, and she scolded me for breaking down the fabric and shortening the life of the towels. Sheesh, I have dingy gray towels, I kinda wish the soak had filled them with holes so I could go buy all new ones with a clear conscience.

During my internet search, I did learn that one cause of the graying is hard water, which we have definitely had. We recently installed a water softener, so maybe they won't get as gray again.

Anybody know of anything else I can try to get the gray out?


  1. Yes! I have the cure and I had to order it online because I couldn't find a store in Canada to carry it. White towels/sheets etc. aren't really white...they are gray and a whitener is added. After a few years of use the white fades back to it's natural gray. For years liquid Bluing was a laundry staple but it's hard to find these days. It works great at re-adding the whitener again. The one I use is called Mrs Stewarts Liquid Bluing, just google it and you'll get their website! My white towels were much improved.
    Hope this helps

  2. Thank you, Niki! I will look for it.

  3. I have been intrigued with the idea of bluing for years now, but I can never find it, either. I found a fabric softener that claims to have bluing in it, but that is not good for towels. Perhaps I will order it online, too. It would be worth it as my towels look even worse than yours.

    And what about socks?? Why do my son's socks look that way?? I'm starting to think the insoles stain the bottom of his socks. Grrrr!

  4. Renee, I soaked my husband's socks in this same formula with the towels. They didn't get perfectly white, but they actually turned out somewhat better than the towels.


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