Help! My White Laundry is Coming Out Dingy Gray

Help! My White Laundry is Coming Out Dingy Gray PLUS Which Size Instant Pot?

If you’ve ever sent perfectly functional household linens or clothing items to the rag bag simply because they turned a dingy shade of gray when you expected your white laundry to come out brilliantly white, you’re going to identify big time with today’s first reader question.

Help! My White Laundry is Coming Out Dingy Gray

Dear Mary: How can I whiten my whites? I have well water and I use the homemade laundry detergent. But my whites—especially my white uniforms—are graying. I use white vinegar in the rinse. I can’t soak my whites in bleach or use the Cascade formula every time I wash. Any ideas? Dotti

Dear Dotti: Dingy gray is usually a sign of too much detergent that is not getting rinsed away completely in the rinse cycle. If your well water is especially hard, that could also be contributing to this problem. White vinegar doesn’t necessarily help to whiten clothes. We use it in the rinse cycle to help release all of the detergent.

Here’s a frugal fix for your problem. Add a half cup of borax to each wash load. This will boost the cleaning power of your laundry detergent. (Your homemade version does contain Borax, but a very small amount, which for normal situations is sufficient.) Borax offers many laundry benefits:

  • Borax is a natural mineral, sodium tetraborate, which has been mined and used for thousands of years. 
  • Borax is safe to mix with chlorine bleach and detergents and has been proven to enhance their cleaning power. 
  • Borax whitens your whites because it converts some of the water molecules to hydrogen peroxide, which is a whitening agent. This enhances the action of bleach, whether you add it separately or it’s already present in your laundry detergent. If you don’t like to use bleach, borax is still a good whitener on its own.
  • Borax acts as a pH buffer which means cleaner clothes. It softens hard water and also helps to remove soap residue from clothing.
  • Borax neutralizes laundry odors because it inhibits fungi and mold; it has disinfecting properties. 
  • Borax increases the stain-removal ability of your detergent. The alkaline pH of borax helps to break down acidic stains like tomato or mustard.

For super-stained items or uniforms, like yours, that have become dingy gray, do a one-time pre-soak for 30 minutes in a solution of one tablespoon of borax per gallon of warm water or add 1/2 cup of borax to a pre-soak cycle. Then continue to launder as usual.

Borax is sold as Twenty Mule Team Borax in many stores or in bulk as just plain borax.

Hope that helps, Dotti!

Related: Simple Solutions for 3 Common Laundry Problems

Dear Mary: What size Instant Pot would you recommend for my husband and me? I want to use it primarily to make cheesecake, but now wonder if most IP recipes would work well in the 5-quart size. Carla.

Dear Carla: The 5-quart Instant Pot has been discontinued (you might be able to find a stray one out there somewhere, but it won’t be easy). That leaves three sizes for your consideration—3-quart, 6-quart, and 8-quart. 

The 3-quart size Instant Pot is quite small and will limit your ability to make cheesecakes because you need a springform pan that fits inside the IP to do that. That leaves either the 6- or 8-quartz size. 

I’m quite sure the big 8-quart Instant Pot would be overkill for a household of two, so I recommend the 6-quart DUO60 7-in-1 Instant Pot, currently available for about $90—along with this springform pan, about $12. This is the Instant Pot I have and I’ve never found it to be too large for two, but it’s also ideal for when we have guests. 

Don’t miss: Instant Pot Quick-Start Guide

Here’s the deal with a pressure cooker: You can cook a small amount of food in a larger Instant Pot. But if the Instant Pot is too small, you cannot add more. The rule is that you should never fill a pressure cooker more than 2/3 full.

You’re going to love your Instant Pot and oh, that cheesecake!

Yesterday’s post: Essential College Dorm Room Gear

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6 replies
    • Mary Hunt
      Mary Hunt says:

      I do! I throw 1/4 – 1/2 cup borax (it’s powdered) in with the clothes. And I have to admit to being an over-rinser, which means I hit “extra rinse” on my machine (GE Front Loader) just as an added measure to get detergent and borax completely rinsed away.

    • Mary Hunt
      Mary Hunt says:

      No. When you read 6-in-1 for example, that model does not include the yogurt feature. Reading the descriptions will tell you which uses are included in that particular multiple-use appliance. There is a new 8-quart 10-in-1 that includes “cake maker” and a “sanitize” option in the 10 appliances that it can replace.

  1. Ashs_GMa
    Ashs_GMa says:

    What I use isn’t “natural” like borax, which is a great product. I had tried everything when I discovered White Brite (sold in our local WalMart). I dragged all my husband’s t-shirts I had recently put in the rag bag and started out by soaking them using a White Brite solution, according to the directions. After that all I had to do was add a 1/4 to 1/2 cup to my regular wash and all my whites come out sparkling. I’ve been using this for about two years and have never had a problem. The only reason I put white articles in the rag bag now is when they wear out. I hope they NEVER stop making this product!

  2. K R
    K R says:

    Sorry, but I disagree about an 8 quart IP being too large for two people. There are two of us in my household, but I often cook for company, holidays, etc. and the smaller ones would then be too small. Also, if I want to make extra food for planned leftovers, a large cut of meat such as a ham, or to take to others with larger families, etc, they would also be too small. You can always make less food in the 8 qt. pot, but you can never make a lot of food in the smaller pot. I suggest getting the 8 qt. and making food in sizes that fit the circumstances at the time. Or, if you have the space, you could purchase different sizes and use the one that fits the need at the time. For me, the 8 qt has been the perfect size since I got it almost 2 years ago.


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