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  • White Clothing Care Tips- You Don’t Have To Marry the Drycleaner (if you don’t want too)

    White denim and leather jacket at Shopbop

    White Day at FocusOnStyle continues!

    The white clothing trend is certainly gorgeous with the likes of earlier posts about Acne and Comme des Garcons all seeing the white of day this spring.

    But if you are like me, you’ll be questioning how much wear you will really get out of the big ticket items when keeping white clean and pristine can be an issue.

    We’ve talked about how to remove yucky yellow deodorant stains– if only I could spritz on that guy in front of me at the gym.

    White Brite laundry whitener

    White Brite laundry whitener

    And as far as keeping white jeans— like the JBrand jacket from Shopbop pictured above– T-Shirts and tighty-whities not looking dingy, I prefer a dash of White Brite in the laundry cycle.

    So does personal stylist Noelle Cellini of My Best Foot Forward, who adds, “This works for white blouses or even sheets.  An eco-friendly solution is to use hydrogen peroxide, instead of bleach.  It helps to soak the clothes in the washing machine with 1/2 cup 20% peroxide and then wash as usual.”

    But back to those big ticket items!?!

    I reached out to Mary Marlowe Leverette who is the Laundry Guide–a laundry expert if there ever was one– for the 411 on white clothing care tips. Here’s some of Mary’s spot on to get the spot off cleaning advice-

    FoS: What fabric combinations do you really need to be married to a dry cleaner to afford to keep clean?

    MML: If you choose to only wear 100 percent silk, rayon or acetate or if you only like structured clothes with lots of fine tailoring like custom suits, you better marry a dry cleaner! Most fibers can be laundered at home by machine or hand washing, it is often the design and style of the garment that presents a need for professional cleaning.

    When should you wash & when to dry clean?

    MML: Use these guidelines to help make a decision. If the answer to any question is “yes”, take your garment to a professional.

    • Are there spots or stains that you don’t know how to treat?
    • Is the garment made from acetate or rayon? Both can shrink or become misshapen in water.
    • Is there a special finish on the garment? Stiff fabrics have a stabilizing finish to help them hold their shape that water can ruin.
    • Is the garment difficult to iron? Structured garments, such as suits, can be difficult to iron and often lose their shape when washed.
    • Is the garment leather or suede?
    • Is the garment made of a fiber that you’re not familiar with and have never successfully home laundered?
    • Is the garment special to you?

    FoS: When should you use special soaps or bleach?

    MML: The key to white clothes is much more than the right detergent or bleach.

    • White clothes should never be washed with other colors.
    • Don’t overcrowd the washer or your clothes won’t have room to move and the soil can redeposit on fabric.
    • Keep your washer clean so detergent scum and body soil won’t dull fabric.
    • Use oxygen-based bleach and chlorine bleach correctly
    • Soften hard water to prevent dulling of fabric

    FoS: What fabric combinations to avoid (spandex comes to mind)?

    MML: Synthetic fabrics – polyester, spandex, nylon – can be more difficult to keep white and bright. The core of these fibers is a natural light yellow. If these fabrics are mishandled and overbleached with chlorine bleach, they can never be returned to white again. The chlorine bleach eats away the outer coating revealing the yellow core. However, every fabric can be kept white if handled correctly.


    FoS: How to keep collars, cuffs, elbows clean?

    MML: Collars and cuffs are in constant contact with our body and gather body soil and oils. In addition to the regular routine to keep whites white, use a little extra elbow grease on collars and cuffs and elbows. Apply some heavy-duty detergent to the stained areas and use a soft brush (old toothbrush) to scrub the areas. Also, wash as soon as possible after wearing.

    SHOP THIS: Don’t be timid. Now that you’ve got the 411 on white clothing care tips, try some of these chalky numbers on for size:


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