Late summer is here, which means hotter temps, hazier days and hopefully more time in some kind of pool or mermaid situation. And with this extra sun comes a garment care question I hear a lot: How do I keep my summer whites and pastels clean, especially with sweat and sunscreen in play?

And note that this includes pastels so the answer isn’t bleach. Instead, this is my trick that'll work on any of your lights to prevent stains and keep them looking fresh all season long:

Step 1: Don’t let it sit in the hamper

I feel you. When I get home after a day in the sun, I just want to change out of my sweaty layers, pop open some Polar and lounge in the AC. But for the sake of your pastels and white-colored clothes, it’s important to fight this urge for a few minutes. Don’t just toss your garment in the hamper after you’ve been sweating in it all day and leave it there until the next laundry day. Instead…

Step 2: give it a quick rinse the sink.

Use cool water and a little bit of soap to wash off the sweat and sunscreen that’s on your garment. Here’s how:

  • Fill a sink or basin with cool water.

  • As it's filling up, add a tablespoon of fabric detergent (you don't need much). I recommend you use a detergent that works on delicates and is free of optical brighteners, chlorine, phosphates and fragrance.

  • Once the sink is filled, add your garment and thoroughly swish it around so it’s soapy.

  • Drain the sink.

  • If your garment is durable: Rinse the garment under cool water to wash out the soap.

  • If the garment is delicate: refill the sink with fresh cool water being sure not to shoot water directly on the garment. Then swish the garment around in the fresh water and drain the sink again.

For makeup, dirt or any other visible stains on your garment: gently spot clean those ares with a gentle soap or detergent (I like to use Dawn) and some warm water.

Step 3: Remove the excess water and let it air dry overnight.

  • In the sink, gently squeeze your garment to remove as much water as you can without wringing or twisting it. The item can still be dripping, but not waterlogged.

  • Lay your garment flat on a towel. Then roll them up together like a burrito, gently squeezing as you go. This gets the excess water out.

  • Unroll them and lay out both your garment and the towel you just used to air dry overnight.

This might feel extra, but it only takes a few minutes and is so worth it. Treat sweat and sunscreen like any other stain, and don’t let them set. Although they aren’t visible right away, they add up over the course of a summer. If you allow them to keep setting and layering, your lavender tee or pale blue button-up will have those gross underarm stains in no time. Oh the humanity!

Okay, that last sentence was dramatic, but you know what I mean. Those stains suck. Give this a try and lmk what you think.

xKristine of Declarative