Well water can present a host of challenges, especially when the iron content is high. Washing whites can be especially troubling since they can end up turning yellow and dingy, and no one wants to stand at a utility tub and scrub the bottoms of socks the old-fashioned way. For those with city water from a municipal water supply, bleach is a huge help. It can be added before the laundry detergent to loosen and remove ground in dirt and other stains from whites. However, add bleach to a load of whites washed in well water, and you will end up with yellow or even orange fabric that is spotted, discolored, and stained.
Instead of rubbing and scrubbing whites by hand, and instead of living with yellow and orange stains on whites that make them look dirty even when they are clean and fresh, try the following tips. It is possible to whiten yellow whites in well water, and the following easy methods will help you have the whitest white fabric possible.
Bluing will not remove existing stains from whites. Instead it will whiten whites that are not permanently stained. Use a trusted stain removal product before using bluing to whiten yellow whites in well water. Products such as Oxy-Clean are a good substitute for chlorine bleach. Hydrogen peroxide or baking soda have also been used with good results. Find your favorite stain removal product, and begin with white unstained material before using bluing to bring out a bright white hue.
Use Bluing Instead of Chlorine Bleach
Most fabric these days includes labels that recommend not using chlorine bleach. Not only will it sometimes make whites yellow and dingy, especially in well water, but it will also break down fabric over time. Pick up a bottle of old-fashioned bluing instead. This is the product great grandmothers used to make whites whiter than ever, even in very hard well water that turned everything yellow and orange. Follow product label instructions for best results. Whites washed in well water will never end up yellow again.
Take Advantage of the Bleaching Effects of the Sun
When striving for whiter fabrics when well water makes everything yellow and dingy, take advantage of the bleaching effects of the sun. Whenever possible, hang white fabrics outside on sunny days, and dry them for free. White material that would otherwise remain yellow and dull will look brighter than ever, especially when washed and/or rinsed with bluing and products such as Oxy-Clean, Borax, and all-natural baking soda.
The iron and mineral content in well water varies, and products used to whiten yellow whites will not produce the same results for everyone. Read product labels for recommendations and precautions, and find the best combination to keep your whites washed in well water from turning an ugly shade of yellow. Chances are they will turn out whiter and brighter than ever.