Dingy whites ?

JoAnn_FlaMarch 7, 2010

I have a new front loader, its a he machine. DH hates the smell of bleach and I've notice my whites are getting dingy. What do you do to keep your whites white? Also how do you keep your towels soft?


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Bright whites = Hottest wash temps
You don't mention your machine but if it has an internal heater it probably has a sanitize wash. Use it for your whites.
Soft towels = using half the amount of detergent you are currently using with a warm to hot wash

    Bookmark   March 7, 2010 at 10:19PM
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Cascades helps in sanitary cycle. Wrong detergent for your water chemistry.
Extra rinses work for me to make sure no residue is left behing. I wouldn't decrease the amount of detergent b/c if you using any lotions etc. it will not get washed out and you towels will get smelly. Load of towels takes lots of water to rinse them properly. Try the extra rinses first and see.
Persil is the best for washing whites.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2010 at 10:57PM
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Hot water is a huge help in getting whites white -- assuming clothing labels say they can be washed in hot water. This is often true for white cottons. If your washer doesn't have an internal water heater, your 'hot' water is most likely warm to very warm.

I learned (in college chemistry course) that baking soda doubles the whitening power of liquid chlorine bleach. Baking soda also softens wash water, thus leaves laundry softer. This is why I use baking soda when washing white towels and clothes. (I buy huge reclosable bags at a warehouse store and keep it in the laundry room.)

Since I've been using half the recommended LCB w/equal amount of baking soda, there is never any residual LCB scent at all.

When washing white towels, I use some white vinegar (other vinegars will stain laundry) in the FS dispenser. This strips out all detergent, which also helps to soften laundry.

When washing white cotton clothes, such as socks, undies, and t-shirts, I use some (about half of recommended amount) FS with vinegar.

Whether or not you use vinegar in the final rinse, baking soda should help to soften white towels and clothes.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2010 at 11:34PM
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What kind of Fl do you have? Does it have a sanitary cycle? What detergent are you using? I would recommend using a good quality detergent, and using Clorax Ultimatime bleach. This is not like liquid bleach or clorax 2. It can be added at the start of the wash right along with the normal detergent. I would run all your whites on the sanitary cycle and max out the wash time, use stain treat and add the extra rinse. I think you will see a big difference. Clorax Ultimate bleach is not as "bleach" smelling as LCB.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 3:15PM
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Hi joann_fla,

What kind of machine do you have? What type of and how much detergent do you use? Dingy whites are typically caused by low wash temps and insufficient detergent use. If you are using one of the XL sized front load washers, I would recommend starting with the detergent manufacturer's recommendation and reduce until your results become unacceptable, then go up a little and find a balance.

I used to use 1 TBS of various detergents in my Asko, which is a small European model with approx. half the capacity of today's XL sized machines. I thought I was getting good results until my colored fabrics smelled funny and the clothes are coming out much brighter and cleaner in my new Miele W4842 XL washer. I have increased my detergent use to 4 TBS in the Miele, which is technically only 50% larger drum volume than the Asko but seems to accommodate double the amount of laundry. Depending on how you calculate things, I'm using at least double the amount of detergent I was using before. It's possible you may not be using enough.

If you can answer the above questions it would help a lot and we could provide more specific recommendations.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 5:50PM
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joann_fla -- for whites which can't be washed in hot water, I get good results using Tide w/Bleach (it's non-chlorine bleach) in warm water. If your water temps are high because of your location, cool water might be better for such clothes.

Sometimes I let them soak awhile if they are very soiled and/or stained -- even overnight if they need it.

Other people say they get good results using OxyClean -- though some say they only see noticeable whitening in hot water.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 2:15AM
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The trouble with Oxyclean is that it is only 50% sodium percarbonate - the active whitening ingredient. The rest is wash soda and filler. I would suggest using 100% pure sodium percarbonate available either at The Chemistry Store or under the Ecover brand. You can use less and expect better results.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 10:23AM
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Sodium percarbonate is a winner. It works since 85°F vs s. perborate that works since 140°F.
Here and in Australia Reckitt Benckiser sells a special additive to sanitize diapers in warm water : it is plain sodium percarbonate, people just pay a lot more for it ... Sshivastava' s suggestion is the best way to go

Mara's tip about bakin soda is also a winner in laundry.
We also use it as a "back-up" dishwasher detergent (when we run out of it) and as prewash detergent (2 TBS on the door) on "pots & pans"

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 11:50AM
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I have a samsung FL. I use the silver setting and that's for cold water use. Yes I do have the sanitize setting also but I have tried other settings an there was no improvement.
I am now using cheer or all detergent with no scents/dyes. I just bought some downey softener with no scent. I hate the smells of fabric softener & most detergents. I tried tide, Charles soap and the homemade detergents.
Laundry & washing windows is not what I am best at.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 1:07PM
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For whitest whites you must wash in at least 140°F water, use HE detergent in sufficient quantity (start with the suggested dose and go down from there), and possibly add sodium percarbonate.

Dingy whites are usually caused by insufficient detergent use and/or hard water. Also make sure you are only washing whites together. I have a Miele W4842 and soft water. I use a little less than the quantity recommended, add sodium percarbonate, and wash at 140°F and my whites practically glow in the dark! :)

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 2:16PM
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What about bluing? And also, what about letting whites dry in the sun? I have sheets that have dinginess where people sleep on them and the rest is white. Can I fix this or are they ruined? I love white, white, sheets and do not want to have to buy new ones every two years! I like the suggestion of using the hottest water possible - I have not done this - and to use the chemical that is in OxyClean. Very useful suggestions.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 5:00PM
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@janderbing, if your sheets are 100% cotton, extra hot washes with good detergent and oxy bleach will definitely work on the dinginess you have. Does your washer have a heater? If so, wash your sheets on the longest possible extra hot wash (Sanitary) with an extra rinse. Use a good detergent (people have great results with Tide with Bleach, I like Sears Ultra Plus and also had fantastic reasults with FOCA detergent). You should see a big improvement after the first such wash and by the second your white sheets should be back to white, white, white...

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 6:02PM
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"What about bluing?"
Bluing was discussed at the link below.

"I have sheets that have dinginess where people sleep on them and the rest is white. Can I fix this or are they ruined?"
I would suggest you use a good detergent that has enzymes in it. The body oils should be dissolved by the enzymes. I've only recently discovered detergents with enzymes, and I am amazed and impressed with the difference it has made in our laundry. Oxygen bleach will mostly just brighten, I think.

Here is a link that might be useful: Blueing agents? discussion thread

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 8:59PM
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@ joann_fla

To keep my towels soft and fluffy, I wash them in Vaska Herbatergent w/ Vaska fabric softener. All of my towels say to wash on warm and use the "gentle" cycle. So I wash on warm and spin on medium. I set the dryer to "gentle" or low heat setting and tumble dry with a couple of dryer balls. The Vaska fabric softener does not leave a residue or add any kind of synthetic feel - fabrics come out soft and fluffy like they should with no artificial waxy feel. Absorbency is also not affected. My towels are so fluffy they practically float out of the dryer! :) My machine allows for a higher water level during rinses, and I utilize that as well.

As far as whitening is concerned, use a percarbonate-based "oxy" type product. I recommend against OxyClean simply because it is less than 50% active percarbonate - the rest is useless filler or more detergent that you don't need. Buy percarbonate at The Chemistry Store in bulk, or look for Ecover's powdered non-chlorine bleach - it is 100% sodium percarbonate.

I would recommend against washing any of your linens or towels on Sanitize or Hot if they recommend warm or cold water washing. This could lead to your fabrics shrinking, puckering or degrading over time. Also, some speculate that hot water washing will also shrink the loops and fibers of bath towels, resulting in towels that are not soft and which cannot be fixed.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 1:02PM
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sshrivastava, if I remember correctly, you own a Miele, so your "warm" is 105F v. an average North American washer "warm" at 90F or lower. I'd have to set my temp to "hot" to achieve your "warm" ;-).

In any event, soft towels are one thing, but to get whitest whites, I still stick to using the hottest possible temp, oxy bleach and extra rinse. BTW, I think Ecover is great - it's just too bad that my local Whole Foods no longer carries it :-(

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 4:05PM
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@ izeve

You are totally right. I forget that my machine's WARM=105F=40C. I think fabric care labels presume WARM to be 105F, so if your machine can't achieve that temperature when set to warm you may need to set it to HOT.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 5:30PM
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Ive never had dingy whites, no matter what kind of washer I owned. Ive always used a good quality detergent, and not go stingy on the dose for the wash. LCB is rough on cotton, and can yellow it. I always use hot water, and add extra rinses to the cycle. If you use additives, on top of detergent, that is just more to rinse out. Any residue can lead to them turning digy and gray looking. If your water is hard, then you need to add more detergent.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 9:00AM
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My opinion similar to jakvis and gates1.

I have Duet similar to OP's Samsung. Soft water. Tide HE powder with a touch of Oxyclean for whites. "Whitest Whites" cycle with extra dwell-time. That gives 127F wash temp and about 20 minutes dwell when up to temperature. Extra rinse. My whites have remained blazingly bright for my six years of ownership. Only time I ever used regular bleach is a couple times a year for "clean machine" cycle....which, as far as I can tell, isn't really needed.

I get bright whites with no odor or residue; fluffy and fine all the time.

Seems simple enough to me. Don't understand problem being reported but suspect something to do with product, dosage, or temperature. I have little doubt OP's machine capable of same results I'm getting. Wish I was there to noodle it out on-location.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 12:02PM
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No matter what I do my towels are stiff and stinky. I have tried all temps, bleaches, vinegar, baking soda, detergents and softener with no luck at all. I guess washing just isn't my thing and I am no good at it.
What detergent, temp & cycle do you use for best results?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 12:29PM
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My procedure and product used described above and repeated below.

Do you know your water quality? Does your machine have a cycle that would give you a "hot" wash.....something around, say, 130F or so? Are you able to measure it?

At cyber-distance, I would suggest this: Find out the answer to those questions. Then, begin by running a "clean machine" cycle (or whatever your machine calls it) to be certain you're starting without previous contamination in there. Observe the water condition in there so you can see it's cleaned out. Then run a full load of already-clean laundry on "hot" -- meaning 130F of so -- without adding anything and observe the water during the cycle and the clothes upon completion. I suspect you may learn a lot.

For reference, I tell you: My machine is nominal 3.8cf capacity -- which is about 18lbs. (I suspect yours is similar) I have soft water. For a full load of "normally" soiled whites I use 1/4 cup of Tide HE powder and about 1 tablespoon of Oxyclean. (If I had hard water, I would increase the dosage depending on how hard -- which is why I'm interested in your water quality.) Sometimes I use Downy liquid. My "whitest whites" cycle heats to 127F and I increase the time so that I get a dwell of about 20 minutes at that temperature. This cycle gives a second rinse also. My results have been consistently excellent for more than six years, now. I have no doubt your machine is capable of the same. I suspect all that is required is learning the correct balance of procedure and product for your conditions.

One caveat: If you don't have a machine with a built-in heater, you will not be able to attain this temperature in the wash. If that's the case, I don't think you will be able to match the result.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 1:12PM
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@asolo, I couldn't agree more.

For towels, I like to use really hot water (I use sanitary and extra rinse but I think 20 minutes at 130F that asolo describes above would work just as well). They come out fresh and soft and don't get stinky even after a couple of uses. If your towels are stiff and stinky from months or years of inadequate washing and rinsing, you will need to go through several cycles like this to get them back to soft and fresh. You may want to try liquid detergent (the new super concentrated Method leaves everything very soft) but do not skimp on HOT water and extra rinses. You need your cycles to be around 2 hours to get your towels to wash well and for your whites to be clean and white.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 3:04PM
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My "white" cycles are about 1hr 10min. Most of my towels are non-whites which take about an hour with extra rinse. Excellent results with all. Can't speak to the "several cycles" idea because I've never had a problem so have had no need.....and no experience.

I have always had soft water. After all these years of posts I think there's reason to assume that is likely factor in the result, but don't really know. The effect that I do see clearly and easily is the vastly reduced dosage of detergent required. Otherwise uncertain as to effects.

Will say that I have another machine at another location (mom's house) which is 20-year-old TL (Maytag) which washes max-temp around 110-115F. (No on-board heater there to bring it up.) Soft water there, too. Same excellent results but using Tide non-HE liquid. Sometimes I'll take a load of her laundry up to my other machine as a matter of convenience -- been doing that for years. Sometimes I do my laundry in her machine. There's no difference in the appearance or feel of any of our laundered items. Total cycle-time for mom's machine is about 40-45 minutes with an extra rinse.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 5:03PM
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asolo, so here is my explanation:

- a FL machine uses very little water. If there is no on-board heater, the drum and the load itself will considerably cool off the 5 or so gallons of incoming water, so unless you have an onboard heater, you will not get a hot wash. 110-115F is a good hot wash, but my FL will never get that unless the heater is engaged. I have been watching my cycles and if I use an extra rinse, it is 50 minutes just for the rinses and the spin. So I need at least 30-40 minutes on top of that to get the water hot and have 20 minutes tumbling at an optimal temp. So I'd say 1:20 to 1:30 for a good HOT wash. If I set my machine to Hot, Extra Rinse the wash time typically shows as 1:25 to 1:35. My Extra Hot/Sanitary (158F) washes take about 1:50 to 2 hours, including an extra rinse.

- TL without ATC: will let hot water in without adding cold. Given that it takes about 15 gallons to fill the tub, the drum and the load will not cool the water that much but you still have a drop in temperature (water tank set at 140F, your wash is 110-115F). 115F is still a good hot wash. No time needed to bring the water temp up, so 20 minutes washing, 30 minutes rinsing and spining (no time needed to balance the load etc.) and you are done. A FL machine is not likely to get 115F without an onboard heater, so extra time is needed to heat the water up and, for some reason, the rinses and the spin take extra time as well.

In my case, the longer cycle times do not bother me at all. My whites are white, my towels fresh and soft, and I do not pretreat anything, except for really terrible stains. I've had front loaders for the last 12 or so years and would not go back to a top loader.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 7:06PM
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"In my case, the longer cycle times do not bother me at all. My whites are white, my towels fresh and soft, and I do not pretreat anything, except for really terrible stains. I've had front loaders for the last 12 or so years and would not go back to a top loader."

In that, we are in complete agreement. Before six years ago when I got my first FL, I had decades with TL's....and continuing with mom's old Maytag (no ATC, by the way.) I regard the FL as vastly superior in every way that matters to me. And results are what matters to me. The capacity, quiet, higher temp capability, and higher spin speeds are pluses, too.

The rest I understand readily enough. You arrange the function of your machines to do the thing required. Mine are a bit different from yours but I think its clear we both do pretty much the same things for the same reasons.....and with the same result.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 7:54PM
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