Adding a cap full of bleach to your white laundry is the best way to make it whiter–right? Actually, bleach can make some whites turn yellow, and can even *cause* those pesky yellow underarm stains that you thought you were using the bleach against. Are you shocked? Here’s what you need to know:
Not every fabric reacts to bleach the way you think it does (ie., making it whiter). There is a known list of fabrics that you should never, ever use bleach on–Clorox’s Dr. Laundry calls them the “avoid bleaching” list: spandex, wool, silk, leather, and mohair.
So, what happens if, for example, you have a white t-shirt that contains a small amount of spandex? Well, when spandex is washed with sodium hypochlorite (the main ingredient in bleach products like Clorox) they turn yellow. So, while you think you’re going to get a white tee out of the wash, it comes out looking way worse than when you put it in. Yikes!
So, how can you whiten t-shirts, towels and other clothing that are on the “avoid bleaching” list? Well, depending on the fabric, distilled white vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and dishwasher detergent are all alternatives for whitening laundry.