Tips for discovering the beauty of blue (on whites)

July 28, 2015

A century ago, everyone who did laundry knew about blue. It was how you got whites really white. But, thanks to the washing machine, modern detergents and bleaches, blue was nearly forgotten — until recently. Today, some environmentally conscious consumers are rediscovering the virtues of blue, which they consider an ecologically sound alternative to bleach.

Tips for discovering the beauty of blue (on whites)

1. Blue works very simply

  • Instead of removing dirt or bleaching it white, blue, known as an optical whitener, adds the slightest hint of blue to your whites, making them look brighter and whiter.
  • Most white clothes start out with blue tints that have been added, but those tints fade after repeated washings, sometimes making whites look yellow and dingy.
  • Blue, which is basically a fine blue iron powder in a water suspension, is a safe and easy way to add back the blues. (Nevertheless, as with other laundry products, it shouldn't be swallowed and should always be kept out of the reach of children.)

2. Blue has a history

  • Everybody in the 1920s and 1930s knew about blue and they knew how to use it.
  • In the old days, special bluing tubs were set up beside the rinse tub.

3. Using blue today

  • Today, you dilute a few drops of blue with water and add it either to the wash cycle or to the final rinse cycle.
  • A lot of people think that if a little is good, a lot is better. With blue, that's just not true.

4. It’s a bargain

  • Blue is an old-fashioned bargain, too. A single bottle of the highly concentrated stuff, which costs only a few dollars, can last a year or more.
  • You can find blue in the laundry detergent section of your local supermarket.
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