Throwing in a Load of Whites?

According to HanesBrands’ consumer insights, 75 percent of Americans wear white crewneck T-shirts. That means roughly 94 million households are also laundering this iconic wardrobe staple each week. Before throwing in that next load of whites, take a look at tips from Mike Abbott, the company’s director of research and development, for keeping those comfy T-shirts looking their best.

Label it. All T-shirts are not created the same … and they should not be cared for the same way either. That is why, first and foremost, it is important to check your T-shirts’ labels and sort accordingly. White 100 percent cotton T-shirts should be cared for differently than those made from cotton/polyester blends, spandex or other fabrics.

What’s your temperature? Washing white T-shirts in hot water will degrade the cotton. And cold water, though a good choice for the environment, may leave you seeing spots because detergents (even those designed for cold-water washes) function better at higher temperatures. Choose warm water to help ensure your whites stay bright. That is, unless you decide to wear your favorite white T-shirt to the 2017 Louisiana MudFest, the remnants of which would require a spin on hot.

Don’t be dull. Turning your T-shirts – no matter the color or fabric blend – inside out for both washing and drying will protect them from fiber abrasion, which can lead to a dull appearance.

Blue is the new white. The human eye sees blue as white. So if – despite all of your best efforts – white cotton T-shirts begin to yellow, add a bluing agent to the wash.

Seeing spots? Hey, it is hot out there, and those ice-cream cones can melt in a second. So the next time you end up wearing that double-dutch chocolate treat – or anything else for that matter – be sure to stain treat your T-shirt as soon as possible.

Ditch the off-brands. Think that extra-large bottle of 99-cent laundry detergent is the deal of a century? Think again. For both detergent and bleach, quality matters. Some detergents can actually “exfoliate” your cotton T-shirts, which will cause them to become fuzzy. Use of poor-quality bleach can lead to yellowing. But don’t skip the bleach either, or your white cotton T-shirts will go gray long before their time. Avoid bleach, however, when washing cotton blends, polyester or spandex because it can damage the fibers.

Beat the heat. Similar to washing your cotton T-shirts in hot water, over drying them will degrade the fabric and turn white to yellow faster than the speed of light.

Be a softy, sometimes. Use of fabric softeners is fine for cotton T-shirts, but not for your cotton blends, polyester or spandex apparel. Fabric softeners block the wicking characteristics of polyester, for example.

Need a pit stop? Unfortunately, there is no good solution for those unsightly pit stains. Experts even disagree on what causes them. But there’s hope for the age-old concern! Abbott reports that HanesBrands is working to better understand this issue with the goal of developing solutions.

Go ahead, get graphic. Because of today’s high-quality inks, white cotton T-shirts with printed graphics require no additional special care.

What’s the rub? Even with the best care, there is no way to gauge how long your favorite white T-shirt will last. Lifespan depends on a number of factors, from individual body chemistry to oil to the types of minerals in the water where you live.