It’s Wimbledon season once again and that means only one colour – white. An afternoon of tennis in the hot sunshine makes a pitcher of Pimms and a punnet or two of deliciously ripe and juicy strawberries an absolute necessity. I mean, come on, what is Wimbledon without strawberries and cream, right? But, if you are one of the many people who choose to wear white as a nod to the dress code set for players at this historic sporting event, there is a high chance your outfit may not be quite as white by the end of the match.
Roughly, 27,000kg of strawberries are consumed at Wimbledon each year, which makes the likelihood of juice squirts and strawberry splatters staining clothes, pretty high. Don’t let that put you off though, because if you do accidentally get strawberry juice on your white cotton sundress there are certain things you can do to help get the stain out.
Strawberry Stain Removal
- If you have a bottle of water with you try to rinse any excess strawberry juice from the fabric by dabbing some onto a tissue. Be careful when you do this though, as white is notorious for becoming see through when wet, so you may not want to do it if the stain is in an inappropriate area! Also, don’t use too much water and remember to remove any excess as too much could result in the stain spreading out further.
- When you get home, mix up a solution of half a teaspoon of liquid laundry detergent combined with a tablespoon of white vinegar and some of warm water. Leave the stained garment to soak in this solution for approximately 15 minutes.
- After this time, rinse the garment thoroughly with cold water.
- This should hopefully be enough to have got most of the stain out, but there may still be a slight pinky tinge to it, so you now need to run it through as hot a wash as you can on the washing machine, without it damaging or shrinking the garment. Try using a specialist stain remover product, such as Vanish, to really get to work on the remains of that stain.
- Always make sure you have got the stain out as best you can before drying the garment, especially if you are putting it into the tumble dryer. The heat from the dryer will set the stain and then there will be no chance of getting it out in future.
- You could also try using a small amount of washing up liquid, followed by lemon juice on the stain prior to putting it into the washing machine as these are both very effective at removing stains.
Strawberries aren’t the only things to worry about when it comes to stains on whites, though. Just think about how sweaty the players get when they’re running around in 30-degree heat! So, why do players have to wear white when it is such a difficult colour to keep clean? Wimbledon has the strictest dress code in tennis and it is a tradition that dates as far back as the 1800s. When tennis was first invented it was very much a social event and, like today, it was seen to be very unpleasant if people had sweat marks on their clothes. To solve this problem instead of wearing coloured garments, which darkened when sweat absorbed into the fabric, everyone wore white and it just kind of stuck. The All-England Tennis Club take this dress code very seriously, so much so that last year a 10-part ‘decree’ was included in the competitor’s guide, which outlined exactly what was and wasn’t acceptable. This included the rules:
- “White does not include off-white or cream”
- “A single trim of colour no wider than one centimetre” is allowed
- “Any undergarments that either are or can be visible during play (including due to perspiration) must also be completely white except for a single trim of colour no wider than one [centimetre]”
If you want to keep your whites looking as pristine, fresh and bright as the moment you first bought them, then there are some useful tips you can follow.
Sort your laundry
It goes without saying really, but always make sure you wash your whites in a separate load to your colours and darks. If you put your white shirt in with a coloured wash there is every chance the colour will bleed and transfer onto the shirt, which will leave it looking grey, drab and as though you’ve had it for years.
Always wash your white garments after just one wear. It may look clean, but body oils and perspiration will initially be invisible to the naked eye. If left they will very quickly turn the garment a shade of yellow, so it is always best to err on the side of caution.
Clean the washing machine
If your washing machine isn’t clean then how can you expect it to clean your clothes? Always drive off inside the washing machine and around the door after each wash to avoid mildew and clean out the drawer and filter every couple of months to ensure there is no build up of leftover detergent.
Don’t use as much detergent
Many people believe that the more detergent you use then surely the cleaner the clothes will be…wrong. Using too much detergent or fabric conditioner actually does more harm than good, as it coats the fabric and leaves a residue, which attracts dirt. So, in actual fact, using more detergent makes clothes dirtier.
Where possible dry your white garments outside. Ultraviolet rays from the sun will help to brighten and whiten the garment. Not only that, but you will also save money on your electricity bill and be helping the environment too.
We’ve all done it; shoved a few extra items into the washer because there’s not quite enough to make up another load. But, if the washing machine is absolutely crammed full, when the detergent loosens the dirt from your clothes, there is no space for the water to wash this dirt away. So, rather than being rinsed and drained away, the dirt resettles onto the clothing.
Treat stains immediately
If you put a heavily soiled item into the washing machine without pre-treating it, you are only likely to set the stain.
If you live in a hard water area think about investing in a water softening system or adding a water softener to each laundry load. Hard water contains minerals that will leave deposits on your whites and will make them look dull a lot sooner. To find out if you live in a hard water area go to www.ecowater.co.uk/post-code-checker/.
Dry clothes on a low heat
If you are going to dry your whites in a tumble dryer always make sure you dry them on a low heat setting, as high heat can singe or scorch fabrics, which make them look yellow.
So, that’s game, set and match to whites and a load of old balls to stains!