Why does bleach stain visible compounds white

Getting white laundry white again - 11 home remedies for gray haze

Sweat, deodorant, staining clothes in the washing machine or bad detergent: There are various reasons why white laundry turns yellow or gray. In this article, you can find out which home remedies you can use to make your textiles shine again. In addition: Why retail bleaches are not the best choice.


White laundry

White laundry loses its flawless quality Radiance often after a short time. Only cleaned two or three times in the machine, the shirt, blouse, trousers and curtains have unsightly yellow spots or equally unattractive ones Gray haze on. But how can that be? And above all: How can the discoloration be removed? Practical tests show that it is quite difficult to get rid of yellow or gray once it is present. Still, it is usually worthwhile to rely on tried and tested Home remedies to fall back on. In our guide you will get to know all the potential ways to get white laundry white again.

Gray haze

How does gray haze actually come about?

Gray textiles generally have one of these four causes listed.

  • too little detergent in the machine
  • poor quality detergent
  • Soap residue from the detergent
  • discolored laundry due to a mix of colors

Too little detergent in the machine

If you use too little detergent, the loosened dirt cannot bind with the rinsing water as it would be necessary to reliably remove it from the machine. The result: Dirt particles remain in the drum - and then settle in the fabrics of the next wash load. If you repeatedly wash white textiles in a soiled washing machine, it is no wonder that you soon find yourself holding graying clothes.

Poor quality detergent

The "horror" also threatens when using a poor quality detergent. In this case it arises as already described above.

Soap residue from the detergent

Wash your whites at 30 or 40 degrees, often Soap residue be the reason for the gray haze from the detergent. The fact is that the soap that every detergent contains only dissolves slowly in water at low temperatures. As a result, the residues settle on the textiles and cause the undesired discoloration.

Tip: To counteract this, it is advisable to dissolve the detergent in hot water beforehand for wash cycles at 30 or 40 degrees and to put it in the prepared form directly in the drum instead of in the main compartment of the machine.

Discolored laundry due to a mix of colors

If you wash white with colored or black, the consequence is a gray veil. Colored and black textiles lose a tiny bit of color with each wash cycle - this then "gets lost" in your white laundry and leaves an unsightly gray veil.

In short: wash white items separately, i.e. separately from colored and black textiles.


And how is yellowed laundry created?

As with gray, there are several causes for yellowed laundry, which in principle come into question. Below is a selection of typical reasons.

  • regular nicotine use
  • Sweat on the fabrics
  • Deodorant stains on clothes
  • Textiles that have not been used for a long time

Regular use of nicotine

Regular consumption of nicotine not only makes your fingers and teeth yellow - it also forces your laundry to become discolored. Sweat and deodorants with aluminum salts can also cause yellowing. The Aluminum salts combine with the sweat - this leads to unsightly marks in the armpit area.

According to scientific studies, aluminum salts are harmful to health. They are suspected of increasing the risk of breast cancer and Alzheimer's disease, among other things. Make sure you only buy deodorants that do not contain aluminum salts. Fortunately, most deodorants today are free of the potential pollutants.

Storage in the closet

If white laundry is left unused in the cupboard for a long period of time, yellowing often results. This is due to organic matter, such as food stains, which age and gradually turn yellow.

Tip: Yellowed laundry usually turns white again after washing it several times at 60 degrees and using a high-quality heavy-duty detergent. But: Not every textile may be washed at these temperatures ... In these cases it makes sense to take a closer look at the home remedies described in this article and to try them out.


Preliminary remark: bleach is not the optimal solution ...

“Put some bleach in a bucket full of water. Then put the yellowed or grayed textile in it and let it soak for a few hours. Then take the garment out of the Bleach water and finally wash it in your washing machine as usual. Your laundry will then be gleaming white again. "

This or something similar are the application descriptions of the manufacturers of brighteners. Such remedies can be bought in abundance in stores. But be careful: brighteners are usually nothing more than Chlorine cleaner - known as harsh chemicals. Experts advise against using chemical bleaching agents, and for good reason: Textile fabrics often cannot tolerate such agents. Thin spots form in the fabric and sometimes even holes. Apart from that, bleaches pollute the environment.

Note: Depending on the composition of the ingredients in the bleach, highly toxic compounds can be formed.

Also from so-called "Laundry and white towels"that you should put in the washing machine, you better refrain. These "tools" contain optical brighteners. The latter lie on the textiles during the washing process - in order to adhere to them. In this way, they create a visual illusion that leads the user to believe that the white is particularly radiant. However, these cloths do not solve the basic problem, because the dirt remains in the fibers. Thus, the white laundry is only clean on the surface.

Important note: Take a look at the label with care instructions if you have not yet cut it off from the respective textile. Do you see a crossed triangle on it? Then you must not bleach the white garment either way with a chemical agent. If the care label is no longer there, it is better not to unpack the chemical club.

Basically: Home remedies are the better choice because they are more environmentally and textile-friendly. However, you shouldn't fool yourself: Success can be a long time coming. The effect of home remedies on bleaching white laundry is still controversial. Some swear by it, others don't believe in it.

We know from our own experience that the Home remedieswhich we will describe below, MAY be effective. However, there is no guarantee that this will be the case. Very stubborn stains are a tough test even for the best home remedies. Our advice to you: First try one or two of the remedies (carefully, of course!). If they only work moderately or not at all, you should take your discolored whites to a professional dry cleaner if they are important to you.

Home remedies

11 home remedies for gray or yellowish discoloration

The eleven home remedies that we are now introducing to you at a glance.

  • vinegar
  • salt
  • Black pepper
  • milk
  • baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • citric acid
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • ink
  • Horse chestnut branches
  • Sunlight (UV radiation)


The "miracle cure" vinegar works against every cause of gray haze and yellowing. For example, it has one descaling Effect, so that it successfully fights against possible lime soap residues in the textiles, among other things. The agent also cleans yellowed clothing. The acid penetrates the fibers and removes the discoloration. Vinegar has the potential to get laundry gleaming white again - without attacking the fabrics.

Note: Of course the white vinegar is meant!

That's how it's done:

Depending on how dirty it is, add half a cup to a full cup of vinegar in the fabric softener compartment of your washing machine. In the case of extremely hard water, it is advisable to use a little more vinegar. You carry out the washing procedure itself as always (program, temperature), provided it is correct (observe the care label!).

Tip: In the case of stubborn stains, e.g. from deodorant, red wine or coffee, it is advisable to pretreat the textile with vinegar first. To do this, simply let it soak for a few hours in a mixture of water and vinegar (ratio 2: 1).

Incidentally, the annoying vinegar smell disappears when the textiles are dried at the latest. And: yellowed clothing that has not been used for a long time is often noticeable due to its musty smell. Vinegar levels this with its own strong scent (which, however, will soon be said goodbye, so that the white laundry smells wonderfully fresh).

Tip for the future: use vinegar regularly as a substitute for the fabric softener when washing white textiles. This is how you specifically prevent gray haze. In this case, however, a shot of the home remedy is enough, you don't need a whole cup of it. A pleasant side effect: vinegar makes textiles nice and soft - ideal for towels and bed linen, but also for some clothing.


Salt possesses by its fine Abrasive effect the ability to loosen soap residue from white and colored laundry.

That's how it's done:

Add about 100 grams of salt directly to the textiles in the drum.

Black pepper

The particles of ground black pepper have basically the same characteristics like salt. They help to get rid of gray or yellowish veils.

That's how it's done:

Add a teaspoon of black pepper to the detergent. The mix goes back into the drum, NOT into the compartment.


Milk has also been said to have a bleaching effect for centuries. The reason for this is the included Lactic acid. This combines with the “dye”, which is responsible for the gray or yellow tint on the respective textile, and contributes to its dissolution.

Tip: Milk is said to be particularly useful for delicate fabrics and cotton. In addition to the bleaching effect, the home remedy offers gentle care for the corresponding textiles.

That's how it's done:

Fill a bucket with two cups of cold milk, one cup of ice cold water and a few ice cubes. Then soak the gray or yellowed textile in it for around an hour. Finally, a classic wash cycle is announced again.


  • A milk rim may remain after the first wash
  • however, this should disappear the next time you use the washing machine
  • to get rid of the milk odor that sometimes occurs, simply let the textile air dry (preferably in the sun, this supports the bleaching effect)

baking powder

Baking powder is essentially made up of sodium salt and acid. In combination with water, the two substances react to form carbon dioxide. The latter "Bubbles" the gray or yellow out of the white wash.

That's how it's done:

In addition to the heavy-duty detergent, add a sachet of baking powder to the drum of the washing machine and wash the textile as usual.

Tip: The cleaning effect can be increased by adding a teaspoon of salt to the baking powder. In the case of yellow stains, it makes sense to drizzle a dash of vinegar directly on it before washing.

Already knew …? With baking soda you can get white shoes clean again.

Baking soda

Whether as the main ingredient in baking powder or pure: Soda is able to make yellowed or gray laundry shiny white again. In addition, the remedy works antibacterial.

That's how it's done:

Add half a cup of baking soda to the detergent. The rest is identical to the procedure for baking soda. As an alternative or in addition, you can bathe the gray or yellow-spotted textile in soda water for one night before washing. To do this, mix hot water with half a cup of baking soda in a large bowl.

Tip: Pretreatment is particularly recommended for textiles that cannot be washed at 60 degrees Celsius.

citric acid

Citric acid can work wonders, especially with yellowish discoloration in the armpit area (deodorant stains).

That's how it's done:

Dissolve about twelve to 15 grams of citric acid powder in one liter of warm water. Alternatively, you can use six to eight lemon wedges. Then leave the textile in the mixture for about four hours. The classic wash cycle follows - done.

Tip: If the yellow spots have not completely disappeared, it is often worth starting a second round to achieve the desired effect.

Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is not only good for bleaching hair, but also for bleaching of white clothing and other textiles in the lightest of all colors. In fact, the natural substance is also contained in some bleaching agents that can be bought on the market (although in those cases there are also many chemicals ...). Whether gray or yellowed areas: hydrogen peroxide helps to remove the discoloration.

Important: ONLY use hydrogen peroxide at a concentration of three percent. With a higher dosage there is a risk of chemical burns.

That's how it's done:

Add half a cup of the detergent to the heavy-duty detergent. Wash as usual. Here, too, there is the possibility of pretreatment (especially recommended for clearly visible stains): Apply hydrogen peroxide directly to the areas, let it work for a few minutes and then start washing (nevertheless WITH half a cup of hydrogen peroxide in the machine).

Horse chestnut branches

Not a household remedy in the true sense of the word, but horse chestnut branches are a very interesting variant for bleaching yellowed or graying laundry. The included Glycoside esculin fluoresces in such a way that it acts like optical brighteners in detergents - just in a natural way.

That's how it's done:

Cut a branch of horse chestnut into pieces about two centimeters long and put them in a laundry bag in the drum (in addition to the detergent - in this context it should be mentioned that you can also make chestnut detergent yourself ...).

Note: The effect is usually only temporary. But if you have the opportunity to get horse chestnut branches, you can do the process well with every white wash.


Yellow discolored textiles get their white color by adding blue ink Radiance back. Explanation: Yellowed light reflects more red and green than blue light waves. Therefore, the discoloration appears yellowish to the human eye. In order to achieve “white vision”, the blue portion of the reflected light waves must increase again.

Note: With additive color mixing, the maximum reflection of red, green and blue light waves results in the white color for our eyes.

Blue ink helps to adjust the pigmentation of the fabric so that the light colors are reflected halfway evenly. Of course, this cannot be controlled with absolute precision, but we perceive white with a slight blue cast to be purer than white with a slight yellow cast.

That's how it's done:

Wash your yellowed white laundry as much as possible - with the only difference that you put about four to eight drops of ink in the softener compartment.

Important: The ink only works as a brightener, it does not remove the cause. In addition, it is very likely that the effect will already go away the next time you wash it (without ink). Therefore, in the long term, it is advisable to rely on baking soda and Co., i.e. on home remedies that go deeply against the discolored laundry (its causes).

Tip: The trick with the ink often only has an effect on natural fibers such as cotton. It rarely works with synthetic fibers, as these usually do not accept dye products.

UV light and oxygen

Regardless of which home remedy you try, hang your whites in the outside after washing Sun up - for additional, gentle brightening. UV light and the oxygen in the air are more or less natural bleaching agents. The bleaching effect is only slight, but it can intensify the effect of the method used.

General remark

Every home remedy reacts differently to your gray or yellowish white laundry. That's why we always advise you In advance to carry out a test on a comparable (but no longer absolutely necessary ...) textile (same material) to ensure that the material is not affected.

Prevent gray and / or yellowed white laundry in the future

Finally, two more important tips on how you can prevent gray or yellowish veils on your white textiles in the future.

  • wash white laundry ALWAYS separately (not with colored or black)
  • Use only high-quality heavy-duty detergents, preferably powder detergents
  • Surfactants loosen stains and other dirt
  • The detached dirt particles run off with the rinse water and, thanks to the graying inhibitors in the detergent, cannot lay on your white clothes during the next wash cycle
  • bleach and optical brighteners are also included Heavy duty detergent contain - they lighten the fabric