2016 Update: check out our newer post on how to keep whites white!
How DO you keep your white blouses and tees white? Reader L wonders, and as summer’s heat is upon us I think now is a great time to discuss this…
Currently, I’m living in hot and sunny south Florida. Not to be overly gross, but my whites just do not stay as white as they should simply because of all the sweating that I do here! I know that I could go see a dermatologist or I can try a new deodorant, but that’s not my question/issue. My question is: other than bleach, what do you do to keep your whites fresh and white? It’s my opinion that Florida living prevents white clothing from ever looking totally clean, and that’s a total damper on a DC girl who lives an ill-fitting black/gray/blue suit and a white button-up. What do you do?
We actually have talked about the best deodorants for the working woman — but as you note, this is a different question. (Pictured: Stretch Poplin Blouse, on sale at Saks as part of their new designer markdowns (up to 40%!) – was $395, now $237.) The tips that I know of for keeping whites white:
a) Think about your undergarments. A white blouse frequently needs a camisole anyway (I’m a fan of the nude-for-you bra paired with a white camisole, but that’s me) and so look for one that has high arm-holes — the cotton camisole will help “catch” the sweat (yes, eww, but still).
When you’re laundering it,
b) Avoid the dryer at all costs. Even if the shirt says “tumble dry low,” most of the yellowing comes from the dryer — so hang your white blouses, or lay them flat to dry. If the tag says “dry clean only” or even “dry clean” (the latter of which usually means it can be washed), I’d be inclined to get the shirt dry-cleaned if you really like it.
c) Before you wash it, pretreat areas that are likely to be dirty. My husband always sprays the collars, underarms, and cuffs of his button-down shirts with Spray n’ Wash before we do the laundry. I’ve read about a number of other solutions for cleaning whites — peroxide mixes, baking soda mixes, etc, but I’ve never tried them myself — readers, please weigh in!
d) If all of this still doesn’t help, look into underarm shields. I only know about this product because a friend wanted to invent it — alas for her, a lot of companies beat her to the punch, including the folks behind Hollywood Fashion Tape (Dress Shields Behind The Seams Garment Protectors by Hollywood Fashion Tape), but this is great news for white blouse wearers.
Finally: keep in mind that while the white blouse is classic, it is by no means the only thing you can wear to look professional — check out the Corporette Guide to the Best Tops For Under Suits!
Readers, what are your tips for keeping your whites sparkling white?