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Cleaning Clothes That Have Yellowed

Category Laundry
Cleaning Clothes
Older clothing can sometimes yellow with age. This guide is about cleaning clothes that have yellowed.


Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
March 25, 2010

What's the best way to get white and colored clothing clean after it's been hanging in a closet for ages and has yellowed? I don't want to use chlorine bleach. I am afraid of using bleach full strength.


By Gayle from Rochester, NY

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
March 27, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

I used to wear white uniforms. The best way to brighten and clean is to run through the washer with Lestoil. Then you'll have to wash again to get the smell out. Works wonderfully.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
March 31, 20101 found this helpful
Best Answer

Oxyclean is great for whites. You can leave things soak for days if necessary. I soaked a 50 year old tablecloth for 3 days and the stains finally came out. Unlike bleach, it does not dissolve the material.

For colors soak (follow directions) in "Clorox 2, Stain Fighter & Color Booster". It's pricey, but gets out grease and blood from clothes. It is the best I've ever used on colors in 60 years of doing laundry.

Reply Was this helpful? 1

July 10, 20110 found this helpful

How do you remove the yellowing on clothing articles left hanging on hangers too long?

By Cheryl

Answer Was this helpful? Yes


July 12, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

If the stains are rust from the hangers there is a product 'Whink", a brown bottle found with the laundry detergent in your grocery store. When you put it on you can see the stain disappear right before your eyes. Then you will need to launder immediately.

If the stain is just age yellowing try soaking in Oyxclean, found also in the laundry detergent area. Directions are on the box. Unlike bleach, Oxyclean will not remove the color from colored garments. After soaking and washing be sure to check for all the stain removal before putting the garment into the dryer. If stain is still evident then soak again in Oxyclean.

I have left things soaking in Oxyclean for more than a week and they were not damaged.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

May 29, 2010

How do I make white undershirts white again after they turn yellow?

By Mary Lou from Flanders, NJ

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
May 29, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

Use Mrs. Stewart's "Bluing" in your rinse cycle. Don't put too much in or it will stain "bluish" spots, just a few gradual washings using the "bluing" in all of your white washes and you'll see brilliant, white clothing.

Even if there are bluish spots, they'll eventually wash away, they're not permanent stains.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

By 1 found this helpful
March 30, 2016

I have a 50 year old child's communion dress that has yellowed. How do I clean/restore the yellowed with age dress? One professional cleaner said to wash it in Oxi-clean and Woolite. Another professional cleaner said they could only clean it, it would look the same, just clean not whitened. Suggestions weicome.


Answer Was this helpful? 1
July 29, 20160 found this helpful

Every spring and summer,I hang my delicate whites on the clothesline for a couple of days. Of course,hot sunny days. It keeps my delicate whites nice and bright!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
June 23, 20170 found this helpful

I let my yellowed or not whites soak in a bucket of water with about 1/2 C of store brand powder dishwasher detergent. I usually let it soak over night. Works great.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

November 3, 20130 found this helpful

What is the best way to clean clothes that have yellowed?

By Cristina

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
November 5, 20130 found this helpful
Best Answer

Put the clothes in a container with extremely hot water, and a scoop or two of Oxy Clean. Close the container (we use a small cooler). Let them sit for at least 20 minutes, open it, stir/look to see how much they've whitened. The longer you leave them soak, the more it works. Then dump them into the washer (those clothes only is best) and wash like normal. That should work.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

By 0 found this helpful
October 10, 2016

I have a vintage, wool Varsity sweater, which has become "golden." It was originally white. I'd like to brighten it up, but I'm concerned about the navy colored patches. I appreciate any help you can offer.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes


October 16, 20160 found this helpful

If you cover the navy letter and put the sweater in directly sunlight, the white areas should bleach out. Not sure if it will take a while, though Good luck.

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October 23, 20160 found this helpful

Thank you! :)

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

January 26, 20150 found this helpful

I recently received three dress shirts. As nearly as we can determine they are from the late 1800s or very early 1900s. They have removable collars and cuffs, bibbed fronts, etc. The problem is that they are stained with orange spots and what isn't orange is very yellowed. They are beautifully made and although I have no idea what to do with them, I would like to restore them. The cotton is very smooth and sturdy. Any suggestions would be welcomed!

By Lynda T

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
February 7, 20150 found this helpful

I have used lemon juice and the sun. If that didn't work I used hydrogen peroxide and the sun. J

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

October 2, 20130 found this helpful

What can I do to prevent and remove those stains that appear on your pants after being on the hangers for a while? It's like a straight line across the top pant leg that's been exposed on the hanger? I have this issue all the time and it really bugs me! I have a job interview in the morning and the nicest professional looking pair of pants that I plan on wearing has that one line across one pant leg.

Will machine washing it alone work or is there any pre-treating secrets you can reveal to help me so I look nice for my interview? I really want to make a good impression and not look silly or too cheap to afford a descent pair of pants (although I really can't afford a new pair of pants LOL). Any advice you can provide me is so greatly appreciated. Thank you all so much! :)

By Jennifer P.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
February 2, 20150 found this helpful

Try wetting a pressing cloth with white vinegar & press the crease. I have used this method on skirts when I let the hem out.

Syd's 2 cents

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April 13, 20040 found this helpful

I have a dry cleanable seersucker jacket that has yellowed over time. is there any remedy to return the white areas, white? now it just looks dirty and dingy and is unwearable.

Paulette from Tennessee

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
By guest (Guest Post)
October 13, 20050 found this helpful

I had several blouses that I sent to the cleaners and they became yellowed, I could not wear them at all. I thought what the heck, and through them in the wash and they came out with as snow. It has something to do with the cleaning solutions. hope this helps.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

By 3 found this helpful
March 30, 2017

How do I get a yellow spot out of my white blouse after it has been hanging in the closet?

Answer Was this helpful? 3


March 30, 20171 found this helpful

Well, not enough info to tell you for sure--if it is cotton, you can use some bleach or oxyclean. What caused the spot?

Reply Was this helpful? 1
March 30, 20170 found this helpful

Try soaking it in hot water (5 gallons) with 2 T each of powdered dishwasher detergent and hydrogen peroxide. Soak overnight and wash as usual the next day.

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March 31, 20171 found this helpful

Do you know what the stain is from? Is it oil based? Usually any stain comes out with Oxiclean but it would help to know what it's from

Reply Was this helpful? 1
May 10, 20172 found this helpful

how to get yellowing out of shirt that has hung too long.

Reply Was this helpful? 2
May 24, 20172 found this helpful

The stain is from my wardrobe having been there for several years

Reply Was this helpful? 2
June 7, 20171 found this helpful

I'm looking for the answer

Reply Was this helpful? 1


ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

May 29, 20100 found this helpful

How do you clean a white cotton turtle neck shirt that has yellowed?

Mslipp from Laguna Niguel, CA


Yellowed Cotton Clothing

My sister has had a lot of good luck removing stains from white cotton fabric by-

  1. washing garment and placing it in the sun to dry
  2. washing garment and putting a little diluted lemon juice on the stain and putting it in the sun to dry

Good luck! (09/09/2007)

By metroplex

Yellowed Cotton Clothing

My mother used to clean my yellowing white cotton shirts collar by soaking the collar in a diluted detergent then placing the part of the garment dipped in the detergent in the sun for at least two hours and then machine or hand wash. (10/28/2008)

By Andre

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
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