Back in the ‘90s, I had a pair of white Filas I so desperately wanted to keep pristine that I carried around a bottle of whitening cleaner. Actually. No scuff was safe.
Surely, I thought, this was the perfect EDC. A normal thing sneakerheads do. Until it backfired. I remember reaching into my cargo pocket (hey — it was the ‘90s) one day only to bring back a hand that looked like it had been plumbing a can of white paint thinner.
The stuff. Got. Everywhere. The bottle had popped open, and there began my real journey: the quest to keep summer whites white. Whether it’s your kicks, shirts or jeans, here are a few things to keep in mind as the weather heats up and you begin breaking out your whites.
1. Understand the problem. If we’re to look at what causes yellow armpit stains on white shirts, the root cause is not purely sweat. It is, in fact, a combination of sweat and your antiperspirant, which probably contains aluminum that builds up to create an unsightly blight.
2. So commit to keeping things clean. Technical knowledge aside, regular maintenance is key. It is entirely possible for whites to remain white and last for a long time if you stay vigilant. As a routine: rotate your garments. Let them rest. Also clean and air them — which is as simple as giving them a proper hanger to rest on. This helps fabric circulate and perspiration evaporate.
3. But don’t be obsessive. See cautionary tale above.
4. For shirts, be proactive. Wine, grass and other summer stains — spot clean immediately. And by spot clean, we mean dab with cold water and soap. No rubbing. With your regular wash, make it a point to soak the stains in cold salt water. Another trick we love: denture cleaning tablets. Otherwise: there’s OxiClean, and for the more environmentally conscious, this All-Purpose Bleach Alternative from the Laundress.
5. For shoes, never wear them outside. Kidding. Wear them. Run amok. But every now and then, give them a brighten. Spot cleaning for white canvas sneakers requires only a mixture of water and baking soda. White leather sneakers can do for a weekly horsehair brush session and a wipe down with a shoe cloth.