The Ultimate Guide To Keeping White Pants White

The perils of wearing white pants are well known, and it’s basically an act of significant bravery to walk outside your home into the dirty world in one giant stain magnet. But, if you’re a courageous person who wants to throw caution to the wind, I salute you and I’m here to support you.

Let’s begin with the two cardinal rules of wearing white pants:

1. Carry a Tide to Go pen at all times.

This is just basic smart planning.

2. Say no to all picnics, barbecues, wine tastings, or events that take place outside of an isolated bubble.

If you want to wear white pants, be my guest. But you simply cannot go anywhere.

If that fails you, you’ll need to be ready to do some damage control in the wash when you get home. Remember that bleach is your best friend here when push comes to shove (and if these treatments fail), but I implore you to read the laundry directions on each garment because bleach ruins everything when it comes to certain fabrics. It certainly doesn’t work for everything (it makes sweat stains worse, but we’ve got you covered!).

Let’s start with removing some common stains:

Grass stains

While there are certainly commercial products available that are specifically aimed at removing grass stains, you can make a mixture of bleach and hydrogen peroxide at home instead. Mix 1 part bleach and 1 part peroxide with three parts cold water so that it forms a paste. Apply it to the grass stains, and let it sit for an hour or so. Launder as usual, but check it before throwing the garment into the dryer. If there’s still stain left, repeat the process. Don’t dry it until the stain is fully out.


So, I think we all know the biggest peril of wearing white pants is that whole menstruation situation. Let’s be honest–this is an awful idea all around. Of course, there are other types of blood you can find on your lower half (hello, chronic nosebleeds!), but the one that worries me the most is the kind that exits my vagina. There are specific products removing for menstrual blood (brilliant), but if you don’t want to shell out for that, you can make something at home. The best-case scenario involves getting to the stain before it dries and sets in, and in that case, soak it in cold water immediately. Apply some soap, or if the stain is dry, spray a stain treatment onto the stain and keep soaking. If you have some ammonia on hand, dab that on. Then launder as usual.

Red Wine

Okay, this is going to sound really crazy, but I heard about this trick in college and I’ve been using it ever since on wet red wine stains. Pour milk over the stain and let it absorb the wine. The wine stain disappears in an hour or so! If you’re working with a dried stain, soak the garment in vodka before laundering. Don’t be alarmed that the above photo looks like a wine glass filled with menstrual blood. Should you spill a wine glass full of menstrual blood on yourself, we’ve already learned the tools to deal with that.


I don’t even know what to say to you if you’re drinking coffee while wearing white pants, but I’m here to help regardless of your flagrant disregard for the world around you. Quickly blot up whatever you can, but don’t rub the coffee around your garment. Blotting is key. Soak your pants in 1-quart warm water and 1/2 teaspoon dishwashing detergent for 15-30 minutes. Launder as usual. Check before drying and repeat if needed. When this fails, go to a commercial stain pre-treatment.

Olive Oil

Oil-based salad dressing is a hidden culprit–it doesn’t leave a bright red stain like wine, and yet it can be just as destructive. Apply baking soda or cornmeal directly to the stain and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Then launder as usual. If this doesn’t work (again, check before drying), directly apply dishwashing soap to the stain and let it soak before laundering again. The soap will cut the oil in a way that water won’t.

Now that we’ve covered stains and preparation, you’re basically good to go. My final recommendation for keeping white pants clean is simply not to wear white pants. It is a recipe for disaster. But if you must, you’re now well prepared. But don’t. Just don’t do it. Just say no.

Photo: WENN

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