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Whites turned yellow. How to get them white again?

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  • Whites turned yellow. How to get them white again?

    I come from a place with soft water. I didn't even know what hard/soft water meant until i came here. I found out the hard way when i soaked my white clothes in bleach and tap water. I should have know something wasn't right when i saw the water turn murky yellowish when i added the bleach. I thought it was the bleach, and that it was colored that way here. Well, now all my whites are yellow. A little Googling and i figure the problem is the iron content in the water. Bleach oxidizes iron...hence the rusty color when you mixed it with the water. Now that rust is in my clothes. More Googling points to a product called Iron Out, to remove the iron from the clothes. Problem is...that product or any similar product does not seem to exist here. I tried baking soda and a stain remover that i found in the laundry isle in carrefour. If anything, it exacerbated the problem. Anyone experienced what im talking about? Am i right to thinking its iron? And most importantly...how can i get my whites white again?

  • #2
    Rogerthat , I have very few white towels/underwear and normally I don't look for details like that , so I don't know the answer .

    What I can say is that there is a relatively common product named "Pemutih" (Whitener) which is around 5 % of NaOCl diluted in water or sometimes mixed with soap powder , used as a bleaching agent for paper and textiles, in water purification, in household use, and as a fungicide . But I have no idea if it works for your problem .

    You can also send the clothes to one of the many laundries available here , telling them about the problem and see if they solve it . By the way , after divorcing I found these laundries very convenient/cheap (some of them do pickup/delivery) . I am satisfied with the service of a laundry near my house which charges only Rp7'000 per kilo (blanket is paid separated , per piece) .
    Last edited by marcus; 2 weeks ago.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by marcus View Post
      Rogerthat , I have very few white towels/underwear and normally I don't look for details like that , so I don't know the answer .

      What I can say is that there is a relatively common product named "Pemutih" (Whitener) which is around 5 % of NaOCl diluted in water or sometimes mixed with soap powder , used as a bleaching agent for paper and textiles, in water purification, in household use, and as a fungicide . But I have no idea if it works for your problem .

      You can also send the clothes to one of the many laundries available here , telling them about the problem and see if they solve it . By the way , after divorcing I found these laundries very convenient/cheap (some of them do pickup/delivery) . I am satisfied with the service of a laundry near my house which charges only Rp7'000 per kilo (blanket is paid separated , per piece) .
      Funny...Pemutih (which translates to bleach - basically Clorox) is what caused the problem for me. Wish i hadn't used it. And the laundries here...well, my bp peaks every time i see one. Aside from my jeans, they ruined ALL my clothes. First one washed my whites (well, beiges) with my jeans and all the whites got heavily dyed blue. An then they had the audacity (evilness actually) to tumble dry them AND iron them to permanently set the dye transfer. After their award winning artwork, they neatly folded and sealed it in a plastic bag to hand over to me with a big smile.

      The next one i made extra sure to instruct to wash my whites separately. You would think working at a laundry they would already know that. I mean, heck...you don't even have to work in a laundry to know. It's common sense, isn't it? To purposely wash whites with darks knowing full well what would happen....what do you call that? Well, this place, thankfully, washed the whites separately like i asked. But then proceeded to wash the jeans (darks) with the lights, so when i went home i had another laundry surprise waiting for me - my black and white striped polo shirt and checked shirt were now black and blue. I took it back to them and asked if they could undo it. They looked at it as if it was the first time they noticed. They asked me to come back the following day. I went back 3 days later and they gave it back to me... neatly packaged. Err..."its the same." i say... "cannot mister." they reply.

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      • #4
        Yes , considering the price they charge I would expect that some of the laundries don't know their job .

        By the way , when I was married my wife also put everything together (but we didn't have any jeans) in the washing machine , but I didn't notice any problem with my clothes .

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        • #5
          That’s cheap laundry for you. I only use their service for my cheaper everyday clothes. I advise you the same. Anything fancy/sensitive you can use a more professional laundry service like 5 a Sec or Londre and the like where they charge per item


          To fix your white to yellow situation, have you tried Vanish (itís the brand name)? I donít know if itís basically the same as bleach but people around me have good things to say about it and itís pretty popular.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Pixelmeow View Post
            That’s cheap laundry for you. I only use their service for my cheaper everyday clothes. I advise you the same. Anything fancy/sensitive you can use a more professional laundry service like 5 a Sec or Londre and the like where they charge per item


            To fix your white to yellow situation, have you tried Vanish (it’s the brand name)? I don’t know if it’s basically the same as bleach but people around me have good things to say about it and it’s pretty popular.
            I did try Vanish...it didn't do diddly squat.

            5 a Sec or Londre huh? I'll have to check them out. 5 a sec says "textile expert" on their website. Do you think they got a solution for my textile problem?
            What do they charge, if you don't mind me asking?

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            • #7
              Depends what kind. IIRC, Around IDR 50k for a shirt, give or take. Check which laundry service is available near you (5aSec, Londre, Martinizing, Laundrette etc) to call for details.

              I just checked online for various ways to fix the issue. So many interesting tips. Soak em in boiling water+lemon juice, Soak em in white vinegar, baking soda etc etc. Holy moly, this makes me glad i got all my clothes from Matahari. No hurt feeling over such shenanigans

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              • #8
                Last option that you can use is re-dye again. google "pewarna kain putih" and buy it online.
                As I said, use this as the last option, you will need to boil your shirt with the dye. It may shrink.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Rogerthat View Post
                  ... i figure the problem is the iron content in the water. Bleach oxidizes iron...hence the rusty color when you mixed it with the water ...

                  I was thinking , if it is really oxidized iron , is it not heavier/denser than water so it will not go down and accumulate in the base of the water container ? If it goes down , after some time you can save the iron free water of the upper side of the water container to wash your white clothes .

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                  • #10
                    You might try oxalic acid it is a color safe bleach and will take out iron stain ,if that is the problem , you will find it available online ie tokopedia etc 25k a kilo .

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by tel522 View Post
                      You might try oxalic acid it is a color safe bleach and will take out iron stain ,if that is the problem , you will find it available online ie tokopedia etc 25k a kilo .
                      tel522! You my friend are a life saver! Oxalic acid worked beautifully! 2 mins and the rust just melted away. Thanks a mill buddy!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Rogerthat View Post
                        tel522! You my friend are a life saver! Oxalic acid worked beautifully! 2 mins and the rust just melted away. Thanks a mill buddy!
                        My pleasure

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                        • #13
                          Alright, this is what i did, for future reference...

                          1) Filled a plastic bucket with water and mixed in about 200 grams of oxalic acid.
                          2) Dumped my stained white clothes in there and weighed them down so they are all submerged in the solution and not floating up.
                          3) Came back 2 mins later to see if anything happened and sure enough, my white cap which was heavily stained with sunscreen stains and dingy from a previous bleach + hard water (high iron) soak, was now looking %90 better...but just for good measure...
                          4) I let it soak for an additional 10 hours or so.
                          5) Took the clothes out of the bucket and into a twin tub washing machine (not HE/automatic).
                          6) Filled it with water, Rinso liquid detergent, a cup and a 1/2 of sodium carbonate (AKA washing soda) and let it wash for 15 mins. Liquid detergent is said to be better to use with hard water than powder as powder would stick to the fabric and not rinse off creating a layer of scum on the clothes whereas liquid detergent wouldn't.
                          7) After a 15 min wash, put everything in the spinner for a few mins.
                          8) Took the clothes out of the spinner and back into the wash tub filled with water and 150 ml of white vinegar %25 to rinse for 15 mins. The vinegar is said to soften the water and keep the minerals off the clothes.
                          9) After 15 mins, back into the spinner for 5 mins.
                          10) Let it hang dry in the sun. They say sunlight is great for removing iron stains.

                          My clothes are now the whitest they've ever been. Like super bright white!

                          Now, i'm not exactly sure which ingredient did the trick, or if it was a combination of all the ingredients (oxalic acid, sodium carbonate, liquid detergent, white vinegar %25, sun light). I know one thing for sure though, had there not been oxalic acid in the mix, i would have not been able to get the yellow off. But i feel the other parts of the recipe enhanced the effect of the oxalic acid, but will never know for sure unless i recreate the whole thing minus the oxalic acid.

                          The oxalic acid i got from a chemical store called Alam Kimia (address below. Credit goes to Gratilla from this post here from 2008 http://www.livinginindonesiaforum.or...ht=baking+soda).
                          I also got the sodium carbonate from them, known in the US as washing soda (not baking soda) sold by Arm & Hammer. They also have sodium bicarbonate, known in the US as baking soda, which is sodium bicarbonate, also sold by Arm & Hammer.
                          I also got citric acid from them. Actually, i was torn between citric acid and oxalic acid. The employee there suggested i go with citric acid for my problem. I got both...and tested them. 1 bucket with citric acid and the other with oxalic acid. I put one article of clothing in each. Result:
                          The citric acid ain't had sh** on the oxalic acid!
                          I left the clothes in the citric acid to soak for a full 24 hours and it hardly made a dent, while the oxalic acid showed shocking result in just 2 mins!

                          So yeah. If you got iron stained clothes (including sun screen stains). Oxalic acid is your best bet. Although, i should add, when it comes the sun screen stains (the orangish ones), it will take it off, but not %100...maybe %98. With good lighting, i can still see the sunscreen stains but you will have to know they were there and really squint to see them. I hear i would need a bio enzyme cleaner to get them off, but thats a mission for another day.

                          Alam Kima
                          Jl. Gajah Mada, RT.5/RW.1, Krukut, Tamansari, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10130, Indonesia

                          Careful, if you type in Alam Kima on Google maps, it'll show you an address at Glodok (Holland Bakery). That's the wrong address. The correct address is about 800 meters down the street from there at the address above.

                          Price:
                          Oxalic acid (locally AKA "asam oksalat") : IDR 30,000 (USD 2.08) per 1 KG
                          Citric acid: IDR 25,000 (USD 1.73) per 1 KG
                          Sodium carbonate (locally AKA "soda ash"): IDR 12,500 (USD 0.87) per 1 KG
                          Rinso + molto (liquid laundry soap + fabric softer): 15,something (about USD 1:04) per 800ml
                          White vinegar: approx 5,400 (USD 0.37) per 150 ml

                          For oxalic acid, sodium carbonate and citric acid, 1 KG is the minimum you can buy. The rest of the stuff i got from Indomaret (Indonesian 7/11).

                          Alternatively, you can buy the acids and sodium carbonate from online merchants such as Tokopedia, Bukalapak, Shoppee and Lazada. They can deliver the same day (within 3 hours even) for as low as IDR 18,000 (or even less) through Grab or GoJek. You can get smaller quantities online.

                          Happy laundering!

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