How To Wash White Striped Clothes Without Ruining Them

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Stuck in a laundry conundrum? I’ve been there before – here’s exactly how to wash white-striped clothes without ruining them.

Laundry is something I have come to put more thought into in recent years. And no, it’s not because I’m a glutton for punishment. It’s just that since having kids I do so much more laundry. So much more. To the point that, whether I like it or not, laundry takes up more of my day and more of my brain than ever before.

Take white clothing for example. Prior to having children I just bunged everything into the machine and hoped for the best.

I didn’t separate loads of washing by colour. I hardly owned any white clothing, so I never felt that there was any point in doing separate loads. So the odd rogue white item that managed to sneak its way into my wardrobe got washed with the coloured stuff. What can I say? I liked to live dangerously.

Since having kids it’s a completely different story. They have so many white items of clothing, which I can never understand. Kids are surely the muckiest creatures known to man. Meanwhile white is like a magnet to all things dirt and food and poo related. All of which kids are masters at. Yet manufacturers insist on making kids’ clothes, and especially baby clothes, white.

With more white laundry to deal with than ever before, I realised my old dangerous ways wouldn’t cut it. I wanted to prolong the lifespan of our clothes as long as possible because of a) money and b) the environment.

This meant vowing to always wash whites with whites, and darks with darks. This sounds simple enough, but, as with anything that sounds too simple, there are always sticking points that unexpectedly rear their heads.

Cracking the Laundry Conundrum

As a family of stripe lovers (and The White Stripe lovers), one of the earliest problems that cropped up was the conundrum of how to wash white striped clothes to keep them looking good for as long as possible.

The labels on white striped clothes always helpfully say “wash with similar colours“. To which I always found myself shouting at the label “which similar sodding colour“?! If it’s a black and white striped top, the top is 50% white and 50% black – so which should it be in with? The white clothes or dark clothes? Some assistance would be useful.

Sadly, no assistance was forthcoming, so I took matters into my own hands.

At first, I thought colour catcher sheets would be the answer, but it turns out they are pointless. When you look at the small print, colour catcher manufacturers stipulate that new coloured garments should be laundered separately for at least 6 first washes.

So, after some research and trial and error, here’s what I’ve found:

how to wash a white striped top

How to Wash Striped Clothes

Depending on the colour of the stripe, there are different laundry rules. Consider this the enigma code-cracker of the laundry world!

Dark or Black and White Striped Clothes

For white and dark striped clothes (such as black, navy or green) I’m rather free and easy when it comes to them. I will wash these stripes in either a white, a dark, or a coloured load on a 30°C wash or cooler with a couple of caveats:

1) Dark loads are ok for washing stripes if you are washing clothes that have been washed a few times before. However, I wouldn’t wash white striped clothing in a dark load that contains a new pair of indigo or black jeans, or a new item of dark clothing in it. This is because dye tends to run from these items in the first few washes. Trust me, it will ruin your striped clothes.

2) Coloured loads are also ok for washing stripes in. However, I wouldn’t wash stripes in a load that contains a new item of red clothing. This is because red is the worst of all dyes. It will run and ruin white-striped clothes in the blink of an eye.

This leads me to:

Red and White Stripes

Aka, the worst of the striped clothes. Washing white and red striped clothes is headache-inducing because the red dye is so temperamental.

As such, I would only ever wash white and red striped clothing with other coloured clothing. Never with white clothing. I would also run it on the coldest wash your washing machine will muster. Heat can make the red dye run like nothing else.

Trust me on this. About 3 or 4 days after my first daughter was born, a mountain of white laundry had piled up for the first time ever. Bleary-eyed, I washed a load of whites that contained a white babygro that had a tiny and completely innocuous-looking red trim on it.

I looked at the red trim as I bundled the washing into the machine, and thought, “ahh, what’s the worst that could happen“? I then ran a 30°C cycle. 

Well, my friend, that tiny and innocuous-looking red trim ran over everything in the machine. Even on a low-temperature wash.

At least if the red dye had run in a coloured wash it wouldn’t have had much effect, save for the white babygro. But in a white wash? Everything came out of the washing machine sporting a very pink tinge. All I could do, save for crying, was be grateful that I had spawned a girl.

Cold water is definitely the way to go. Trust me on this. There are no amount of natural stain remover tips that can get red dye out!

White and Yellow or Grey Stripes

Yellow and grey stripes are thankfully much less headache-inducing. Wash white with yellow or grey stripes in with your whites, on a 30°C wash. I’ve never had a problem with these colours before. They are definitely my favourite of the stripes if you can have a favourite stripe colour!

So there we have it. I hope I have solved the how-to-wash white striped clothes puzzle! And I hope this helps you to go forth and wash your white-striped clothes with confidence!

Need More Laundry Advice?

If you need more laundry advice, then I also have a ton of other laundry tips that you might find useful. 

Firstly, here’s how to make your own fabric conditioner

Secondly, this is a good one to legitimise laziness – answering the question of how often should you wash your clothes

I also have handy guides on how to wash wool, and how to dry clean at home.

Also, if you have a laundry question do ask! I am here for all your laundry-based queries!

Stripe jumper and a pair of jeans, with a blue text box that reads how to wash white striped clothing without ruining it.

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