Use Vinegar On Your Sweat Stains And 7 Other Hacks For Keeping White T-Shirts Box-Fresh

Here's to more dazzling white shirts.
Closeup front view of a males hands with wristwatch and bracelet, ironing white shirt.
Sladic via Getty Images
Closeup front view of a males hands with wristwatch and bracelet, ironing white shirt.

Everyone loves a white-shirt, you can wear them with nearly everything, making them a wardrobe staple. But what comes with wearing white clothes is the difficulty of keeping them white.

White clothes can show even the smallest of spills, so maintaining the colour through proper care is important. According to findings from M&S, 80% of people don’t typically check care labels before a wash.

Lucky for us, M&S has enlisted the help of one of their in-house Product Technologists to share some helpful hacks to keep your whites white.

How many times should you wear your white t-shirts before washing them?

M&S found that almost half of people across the UK only wear a white t-shirt once before washing them, but the experts would recommend avoiding this where possible.

“Here at M&S, we strongly advise that you sport your white t-shirts more than once before washing them. If you chuck them in the wash after every wear, you risk wearing them out a lot quicker.”

“We’d have to agree that three wears before washing seems reasonable. Of course, exceptions can be made if your white t-shirt gets stained on the first wear - especially as stains are more visible when wearing a white t-shirt.”

How should you wash your white t-shirts?

When it comes to washing your whites there are a few extra steps you should take to make sure your t-shirts keep looking vibrant.

“While separating your white items from the rest of your washing is one of the simplest ways to prevent your white clothing discolouring, M&S found that 66% of the UK does not always separate their washing by colour.”

“You should always separate your laundry into three categories - white, light and dark - as darker dyes can ruin the fabric of your white t-shirts, which you don’t want. You must turn them inside out first, as this will help the outside of your t-shirts to look fresher and prevent the colour from fading.”

“Don’t be daring with detergents, stick to powder or tablets as most of them contain bleach - an important ingredient in keeping your white t-shirts bright. You should also check the care labels of your t-shirts so you know what temperature to go for. Remember that hot water degrades the colour of white tops quicker than all other temperatures - so go for a cool or cold water wash or, at most, a warm water wash.”

What is the best way to remove stains?

According to M&S’ findings, only 29% of people surveyed try and remove stains before putting an item in the wash – but this could mean you are missing a trick.

“We’ve all fallen victim to a stubborn stain or two. With white fabrics, you must act fast and pre-treat stains individually before washing. Generally, stains from different substances have individual solutions, so ensure you pretreat the stain properly.”

“For example, an oil mark should be pretreated by applying dish soap, while treating a coffee stain will require you to soak your white t-shirts in a mixture of warm water and vinegar for an hour or so. Be sure to check which solution works best for your stain!”

How can you get your white t-shirts really white?

From agents to acids, there are many ways to ensure your t-shirts stay bright and white for as long as possible.

“If you’re keen to keep your white t-shirts clean, make a bluing agent your new best friend. It covers up any possible yellowing from dirt, oil or chlorine bleach - which ultimately makes your t-shirts whiter. Pay close attention to potential armpit stains, as these often appear yellow and result from sweat reacting with your antiperspirant or laundry detergent.”

“For sweat stains, you should add half a cup of vinegar to your machine alongside your regular detergent - the mild acetic acid breaks down dirt and soap residue will leave your whites brighter.”

Should you bleach your white t-shirts?

Bleach is a staple item in many households. From scrubbing floors, to successfully whitening your clothes. The question is, should this be your first port of call when washing white t-shirts?

“Ultimately, you won’t be certain whether you can use bleach on your t-shirts until you check the care labels. If a t-shirt is safe to bleach make sure you are diluting the product correctly as too much bleach can cause a white t-shirt to turn yellow. ”

“I’d always advise doing a patch test on the inside of a white t-shirt before bleaching to check that the results are what you were hoping for.”

How do you wash graphic white t-shirts?

Into your graphic t-shirts? Here’s how to take care of them according to the experts.

“To preserve the design on your shirt, you should turn it inside out like you would for a plain white t-shirt. Be sure to wash them at a cool temperature of no more than 30°, as a cold wash is gentler on the fabric. However, your graphic white t-shirts will have a much lengthier period of survival if you prioritise hand washing over machine washing, which your t-shirts’ care labels will verify.”

“If you constantly put your graphic white t-shirts in the washing machine, they’re more likely to crack, peel and fade. Avoid this by simply filling a sink with cold water and detergent, then placing your inside-out t-shirts to soak for 15-30 minutes.”

How should you dry your white t-shirts?

Though tumble drying is a popular option for many, it doesn’t mean it is always the right choice when it comes to drying your white t-shirts.

“You want your white t-shirts to remain impeccably white and fresh, the best way to achieve this is by placing them on an airer or washing line. If you choose to use a tumble dryer, set it on a shorter cycle and hang them dry once it’s finished.”