How To Keep Tennis Whites Looking White, According To A Laundry Pro

How To Keep Tennis Whites Looking White, According To A Laundry Pro

How To Keep Tennis Whites Looking White, According To A Laundry Pro

These laundry hacks will keep your game—and your tennis outfit—in top form.

Ahead, Richardson shares this and 9 more genius hacks for keeping your tennis whites crisp, clean and vibrant—so you can ace your laundry game.

Wash Smarter, Not Harder

In general, tennis whites are made of some variation of polyester, nylon and spandex fabrics. “Tech fabrics are amazing for sports like tennis for their stretchiness, breathability and quick drying capabilities,” says Richardson. “But polyester is hydrophobic—meaning, it hates water—and oleophilic, which means it loves oil. As a result, it’s attracted to the oils and sweat on your skin and in the products you use, and it can hang onto them.” So if you wash your tennis whites and realize that they’re still dull, stained or smelly ten minutes after putting them on again, you’re not alone. To refresh your tennis whites and return them to their bright white state, follow the following steps.

Avoid Chlorine Bleach

It sounds surprising, but you want to skip chlorine bleach when washing your tennis outfits. “Tennis whites are usually optic white,” says Richardson. “It’s not a naturally occurring color, and it’s achieved by using a blue dye. When you use chlorine bleach, you are actually lifting out the optical white’s vibrant white color, and you may even make your tennis clothes more yellow by doing so.” If this sounds counterintuitive, the concept is similar to how people use blue shampoo on grey or silver hair to take out the yellow and make their hair color brighter and a crisper white.

How To Keep Tennis Whites Looking White, According To A Laundry Pro

Oxygen bleach is best for tennis whites because it maintains the fabric’s bright white color, and it’s also color safe, unlike chlorine bleach.

Use The Right Cleaning Products

  • For Deodorant Stains And General Dullness: “Armpit stains are really the buildup of deodorant and skin oils,” says Richardson. “You want to use an enzymatic cleaner to break down the oil and take away the sweat and odor.” Specifically, use oxygen bleach like Molly’s Suds or OxiClean White Revive, which are color safe and you don’t need to spot treat with them. Richardson suggests buying oxygen bleach in powder form, and putting it in the drum of your machine directly with your clothes. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions because there are many brands that make their own version, he says. It will also help maintain stretch in your tennis clothes. “Technical fabric is meant to stretch and move and if it gets oil built up in it, that minimizes some of the stretch,” says Richardson. “An enzymatic cleaner will help that come back.”
  • For Sunscreen Stains And Food Stains: When you have yellowed areas where you’ve gotten sunscreen on your tennis whites, powder oxygen bleach will not lift those out. Instead, “you’ll need to use an oil stain remover that’s thick that’s applied directly to the area,” Richardson says. Something like Shout in gel form has cleaning agents that are bolstered by its thick texture, which helps it sit directly on the stain without dissolving and allows it extra time to break down oils. Think of it like using an oily eye makeup remover to remove cosmetics with oils in them or applying an oily dish soap to remove oil from greasy pans. “Leave it on and let it rest for 20 minutes before throwing clothes in the wash cycle,” Richardson advises.

Keep The Wash Cycle Brief

For all their amazing capabilities, technical fabrics can also be fragile. “When washing tennis whites, use a really short wash cycle because you don’t want to beat up the tech fabric,” says Richardson. “Use the express cycle with warm water and use just a tiny amount of detergent. With tech fabrics you may want to use even a little bit less when using an enzymatic cleaner.”

How To Keep Tennis Whites Looking White, According To A Laundry Pro

Technical fabrics face a lot of wear and tear in the washing machine, so it’s a good idea to use a speed wash with your tennis whites.

Don’t Put Tennis Whites In The Dryer

“The dryer is really hard on man-made fibers and if you use it with tennis clothes you’re shortening their life significantly,” says Richardson. “If you lay them flat to dry or hang them they will dry quickly,” he says, much like they’re meant to dry quickly when you’re sweating it out on the court.

Should You Machine Wash Or Hand Wash Tennis Whites?

Either is fine, but if you’re using your machine it’s best to use a short wash cycle with the right products to maintain the integrity of the technical fabric. Richardson recommends pretreating any spots with the appropriate stain remover, using a speed wash cycle on warm and adding oxygen bleach to retain the bright white of the fabric (not chlorine bleach).

How Should You Dry Tennis Whites?

The best way to maintain the life of your tennis whites is to lay them on a drying rack or hang them. Never put your pricey tennis outfit in the dryer or the fabric—and its stretch—will be compromised, it can lose its shape and it won’t last as long.

What About My Tennis Shoes?

Some people opt to wash tennis shoes in a washing machine, while others prefer to rotate shoes or replace pairs more often. However, Richardson suggests a surprising hack to keep tennis shoes and other equipment fresh: “For sneakers and equipment that you maybe don’t wash every single time and those that get stinky, spray them with cheap vodka from a spray bottle,” he says. “It’s antibacterial and removes the odor, and when it dries it’s odorless and colorless.”

Tennis Whites Toolkit

Below are the essentials to help you keep your favorite tennis clothes looking their very best. Remember: No chlorine bleach.

Add It To The Washing Machine On An Express Cycle

How To Keep Tennis Whites Looking White, According To A Laundry Pro

Molly’s Suds Oxygen Whitener

Another Powder That Brightens And Removes Deodorant Stains

How To Keep Tennis Whites Looking White, According To A Laundry Pro

OxiClean White Revive Laundry Whitener and Stain Remover Powder, 5 lb

Apply It Directly To Sunscreen Stains

How To Keep Tennis Whites Looking White, According To A Laundry Pro

Shout Advanced Stain Remover

Air Dry To Keep Fabrics Pristine

How To Keep Tennis Whites Looking White, According To A Laundry Pro

Amazon Basics Foldable Laundry Rack

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