How to get whites white again

How to get whites white again: The Style Confessions

White is one of the biggest fashion trends of the season. All-white outfits are popping up like mad on my Pinterest feed while everyone from Garance Dore to Bittersweet Colors are posting articles on how to wear the trend. Recently I’ve gushed about white dresses on Twitter but from the responses I’ve received I can see that not everyone is with me on this one. It’s not that white isn’t pretty, it’s that it stains too easily and is too much work to keep really, really white. Well, you can embrace the white clothing trend this season because I’ve discovered how to get whites white again.

The Stained Shirt

Here in Los Angeles I’ve already pulled out all my white blouses, skirts and jeans from their winter storage. I came across my first white clothing problem quickly. My not-very-old white cotton Gap t-shirts had some strange phantom stains on the front. These weren’t brown or even yellow, they were pale blue-grey, and they drove me nuts.

Anyone who owns anything white knows how difficult it is to get stains out. Bleach often turns the stain yellow, and although the oxy miracle stuff is useful in keeping white, well, white, it doesn’t help much once pasta sauce splatters on the item of clothing, and don’t we ALL get a little splatter once in a while? All my stain-fighting sprays are useless once a smudge has set. I’ve even tried my mother’s technique of squeezing lemon on a spot and leaving it in sunlight for hours. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

I was pondering turning the t-shirt with the blue-grey phantom shadows into rags like I usually do with stained garments when my mother-in-law stopped me.

“Why don’t you try THE SOAP?”

The soap?

How to Get Whites White Again:

Use soap! Zote soap that is.

How to get white really white - The Style Confessions

I had never heard of this stain-fighting technique but I trust my mother-in-law implicitly. If she says the soap works, then the soap must work. So I handed all my stained white blouses and t-shirts to her. She proceeded to show me how to wash them by hand with a big bar of  soap. The t-shirts had the worst stains. We boiled them with thin shavings of soap and then let them soak overnight.

The result? White! White! White! The stains have disappeared.  In addition to washing my blouses my mother-in-law also attacked my daughter’s white sneakers, which had turned a rather unappealing shade of pale brown. Those are white again too. Here they are.

White Sneakers are White Again

How to get whites white again

So what’ in this soap? It contains Sodium Tallowate, Sodium Cocoate, fragrance, an optical brightener and violet dye. According to the Zote Website the soap is made with natural ingredients and is good for hand-washing delicate fabrics. Zote comes in both pink and white versions.

How to get white really white - The Style Confessions

What can I say. It works.This is the best way I’ve ever found to get whites white again.

Disclosure: No, I was not paid for this! I just think it’s a great product and I wanted to share. 

In Los Angeles Zote soap can be found at the 99 Cent store. Yep. It’s cheap too.

Do you have any great stain-fighting techniques to share with me? Have you ever tried this soap?

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45 Responses to How to get whites white again

  1. Jeannie
    April 26, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

    I’ll have to remember this! Thanks to your MIL! :)
    Jeannie recently posted..Catch of a Lifetime….My Profile

  2. Sherryl Perry April 26, 2013 at 7:07 pm #

    It sounds like you get a long really well with your mother-in-law. That’s great! (I get along well with mine too.) I have never heard of Zote soap but boy do I need it! I just dugg out my favorite pair of white jean capris and sure enough, there’s a stain on them. I’ll keep my eyes open at the dollar stores but I have a feeling this soap is a West coast thing. (I’m on the East Coast.) I did find it on eBay though and I have a bar on it’s way now. Thanks for the tip. I have confidence that it will work. :)
    Sherryl Perry recently posted..Friday Finds for Weekend Reading – WP Security & Best Website AwardsMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca April 29, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

      Yay! Be sure to let me know if it works for you Sherryl.

  3. Nicolene Richards April 26, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

    This is excellent advice, being a lover of White clothes I am always faced with the dilemma of keeping things clean. I am traveling with White canvas Flatforms and will be trying this product out!

    • Heather Fonseca April 29, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

      I don’t know if it will work with your platforms but let me know if it helps.

  4. Rosario April 27, 2013 at 2:00 am #

    I hope I can find Zote soap here. I have a stain on my white leggings and my white Keds are just trashed.

  5. Rosario April 27, 2013 at 2:08 am #

    Hope I can fine Zote soap here. I have a pair of stained white leggings and my white Keds are trashed.

    • Heather Fonseca April 29, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

      Looks like you found it and it worked on the leggings!

  6. Sharon April 27, 2013 at 7:16 am #

    I tend to throw out white items once they get stained. So, this soap would be a money saver. Only I never heard of this soap but, I am going to have to see if I can find it.
    Sharon recently posted..BCBGMAXAZRIA Architectural WedgeMy Profile

  7. Arash Mazinani
    April 27, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    I hope they have something similar in the UK. I might have a look, usually with white things if you look after them you can get decent mileage from items. But after a while you just need to bin them and re-invest. I’m really interested in trying this those sneakers look amazingly bright!
    Arash Mazinani recently posted..Who Do YOU Dress For?My Profile

    • Heather Fonseca April 29, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

      There must be something similar in England. I get the feeling laundry bar soap is an old-fashioned product that’s still available if we just look in the right places.

  8. Tav W. April 27, 2013 at 10:32 am #

    I SO need something like this soap for my wash! For one thing, hubby’s work shirts are always ending up with those yellow stains on the collars and nothing seems to help. I try to keep my wash as “green” as possible so I refuse to use bleach. And whites ,in general, tend to yellow with age, so I’m sure I’ll get a lot of use out of Zote soap. I see on their web site, they also make a “Blue” version, but their “Where To Find” section is still under construction. I’ll have to just start looking in all the stores.

    Thanks, Heather (and mom-in-law) for the excellent information. My mom and my husband’s mom have both passed away, so I don’t have anyone to coach me along anymore. You’re a lucky lady, Heather. :)

    • Heather Fonseca April 29, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

      Thank you Tav. I AM a lucky woman! My mother-in-law is really wonderful in many ways. I hope you can find the soap. Let me know if you are able to find it.

  9. Stacey - Total City Girl
    April 27, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    Thanks for the tip! I find I am avoiding buying white lately for the very reason of it NOT staying white very long. Never heard of this soap but I will be on the lookout.
    Stacey – Total City Girl recently posted..A New OutfitMy Profile

    April 27, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

    I have not tried this soap or heard of it. I do love wearing white, especially in the summer time, but don’t wear it often … I usually take most of my nicer white garments to the dry cleaners. But, this sounds amazing. I wonder where else they sell this product, as that part of their site says ‘under construction.” :)
    FASHION TALES recently posted..Elegant Expeditions: Pasotti OmbrelliMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca April 29, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

      Try the 99 cent store if there are some near you. If not they sell it at Walmart and it can be found on too, or you can sign up for my give away!

  11. Tina April 28, 2013 at 3:52 am #

    I am another one who throws stained white clothing away, so this news about Zote soap is very exciting! I found that it is available on Amazon, too.

    • Heather Fonseca April 29, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

      It’s available on Amazon it’s much cheaper at the 99 cent store. Only 39 cents! I read that they sell it at Walmart too. Please let me know if you’re able to find a bar.

  12. Rosario April 28, 2013 at 7:51 am #

    The soap completely removed the stain from my white leggings but it didn’t have much effect on the stains on my Keds champion white sneakers. :(

    • Heather Fonseca April 29, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

      Sorry to hear that Rosario! My mother in law scrubbed my daughter’s sneakers with the soap then rinsed and dried them in the sun. There are still some black spots on the laces, but the shoes are bright white.

  13. Tav W. April 28, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    Rosario, maybe you need to soak the Keds overnight? Or did you try that already? If you haven’t though, I’d soak the Keds overnight, rinse them thoroughly and then let them sit in the sun for a day or even two. What the Zote didn’t get, sun bleaching just might. Good luck!

  14. No fear of fashion April 28, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    It is probably useless to look for that soap in The Netherlands… Bummer.
    We have some all environment friendly soap too, called Driehoek (Triangle in English). Works miracles as well. When chemical products made their entry in the fifties and sixties, these products were pushed aside. But they were and are good.
    The only problem I have with your story, is the boiling. You have to be talking about 100% cotton otherwise you cannot boil them.
    If I am at a loss sith stains I bring the garment to the dry cleaner. They usually get it out but it is expensive. (They love me; I think I am paying for their old age pension…)
    No fear of fashion recently posted..Long Acne tunic with lots of scarfs and necklacesMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca April 29, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

      Greetje that’s such a good point. Thank you. My stained t-shirts and blouses were all cotton. Not only that but they are also old. The blouses are mostly second hand and the t-shirts are about six months old. I have no fear that they’ll shrink.

      I wonder if every country doesn’t have an old-fashioned soap like this that works really well. Zote is from Mexico.

  15. Alexis Grace April 29, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    Can you send me a bar?! Seriously how am I just learning about this stuff?? Amazing!
    Alexis Grace recently posted..Wish List: RumbaTime Orchard WatchMy Profile

  16. 33 April 29, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    wow thank you so much for the tips. i have never been in a 99cent store before and its time i pay it a visit (the one on Fairfax and Wilshire) to buy a few bars of this soap. :-)

    i can’t stand seeing stains on white that’s why i stop buying and wearing white. it bugs me like a chipped manicure would (that’s also why i never paint my nails, just toe nails, them being far to see imperfection).

    • Heather Fonseca April 29, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

      I feel the same way about white and it’s one of the reasons I normally avoid it. But the last couple of years it’s just looked so RIGHT. I’m really excited I found the soap because I hate using bleach and I hate stains. Please let me know what you think when you try it. The 99 cent store near me has the bars of soap selling for 39 cents.

  17. anne the SpyGirl
    April 29, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

    We vote for Zote! Thank your MIL — tell her she’s enlightened and enWHITENED the blogging community! I didn’t know about it either! All my dingy white huipils are going to get Zoted STAT!
    anne the SpyGirl recently posted..My Captcha Crusade — Stop the Captchas Today!My Profile

    • Heather Fonseca April 29, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

      39 cents at the 99 cents store. Just can’t beat that price! Be sure to hand wash any cotton things with the soap, boil in the soapy water and then let sit over night in soapy soup. It’s amazing.

  18. Alyssa W. April 29, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

    Heather, what was the soap to water ratio do you think for the boil pot!! A handful of shavings or half a bar??

    • Heather Fonseca April 29, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

      According to my mother in law you should scrub the item with the soap and then put in water with a few shavings of soap for the boil. Let me know how it works!

    May 31, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

    I enjoy wearing white. (Yes, I do have some white in my wardrobe!) I want this product. Will see if I can find it locally.

    • Heather Fonseca June 1, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

      If you’re in the US you should be able to buy Zote at Walmart. And I’d love to see you in white!

  20. Jennifer July 10, 2013 at 8:41 am #

    Can you give more of a step-by-step process of how to do this? Like when you wash the shirt by hand do you just rub the soap all over it? When you boil clothes do you shave a whole bar into a pot, and how much water? How did your MIL do your daughter’s shoes exactly? Also, how would I do this with a whole load of whites that need to be whitened?

    • Heather Fonseca July 11, 2013 at 10:53 am #

      Hi Jennifer. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.
      My MIL washes whites by hand, rubbing the soap all over but especially on the stains. She often scrubs the stain parts too, and then leaves the item soaking in the soap for a while. For real problem stains she literally boils the garment in the soapy water, but not with the whole bar of soap. As for the pot, just a regular kitchen pot, the kind that fits on the stove. (Obviously this only works with cotton or linen, and other washable fibers.)

      As for the shoes she scrubbed them with the soap and a scrubber, then left the soapy residue on for a while before rinsing.

      And for using the soap in a machine I haven’t tried it personally, but my MIL says she puts a few shaves of soap into the wash.

      I hope that helps!

      • Jennifer July 18, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

        Great, thank you so much!! I’m excited to try it! I actually make my own laundry soap and I’ve been using Fels Naptha but I’m going to try Zote for my next batch :)

  21. Jennifer July 18, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

    Sorry, me again — so what drew me to this post was the picture of the Jack Purcell’s because I have white ones just like them — are those your daughter’s actual shoes after your mother-in-law scrubbed them? Because I just scrubbed mine with Zote and let it sit for quite a while and they don’t look much different at all :/

    • Heather Fonseca July 19, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

      Hi Jennifer, Yes, those are my daughter’s actual shoes after my mother-in-law scrubbed them and let them sit in the suds of the zote soap. I’m sorry it didn’t work for you!


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