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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Tips on Mixing Grays with Whites

By Dr. Laundry June 8, 2006

I wanted to address RB’s question from last week on mixing grays with the whites.I think it’s great that you have the sweaty clothes (exercise is great!!). And I know just what you mean about wanting to make sure they get clean and disinfected. Nothing better than detergent and Clorox Regular Bleach for that job.

It’s usually OK to put grays in the whites load with bleach. A couple of things to consider here:

First, since it probably is a cotton item, we want to make sure that it can be safely bleached. So you will want to perform the simple bleachability test first on the garments in question. Any color change noted will give you a clue about how fast the hue may change. I would expect some small portion of the grey to be bleached out each time you wash, but my experience is that this is usually almost imperceptible. A larger change would make you reconsider adding it to whites since there is concern about dye transfer to the other white items.

Second, if the items are a set (shorts and shirt), always wash both items together. Since you can expect a slight color change to occur, this will help keep the set looking the same.