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Topic: Clothing White Enough for a Sheik?  (Read 877 times)
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« on: July 23, 2008 10:50:37 PM »

When I watch a television show about Iraq or a movie about the Middle East, it seems like the men wearing dishdashas (those long white shirts) keep them impeccable.  They are so white as to be blinding.  So, how come my clothes don't stay so bright?  What is the magic thing they do, I wonder. 

Does anyone know anything about how those garments are kept so beautifully pristine?  Does it involve bleach?  Starch?  I was looking through some Arab websites to try to research this and all I found was a sales site that has polyester dishdashas. 

« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2008 08:13:07 AM »

What is the magic thing they do, I wonder. 
 Does it involve bleach?  Starch? 

I expect it involves bleach, starch, and many many women to do laundry.
Could also involve changing dishdashas after every prayer... and that's 5X a day.

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« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2008 07:05:50 PM »

It may actually have to do with the fact that the light there is brighter.

(I'm going to get really physics nerd-ish right now... tried not to get too technical and give the short version though!)

Certain compounds, minerals, etc. exhibit a property called fluorescence. Essentially, this means if you hit them with UV light. Many detergents for clothes take advantage of this property by adding these fluorescent materials to their detergents--particularly those with bleach or intended for white clothing. (This is why when you put white shirts under black light, they glow brightly--they absorb these chemicals and fluoresce under the UV radiation of the blacklights. Interestingly enough, you can do the same thing with a lot of washing powders themselves, too!)

Anyways, these chemicals make whites appear brighter when they're hit with UV. So perhaps the brighter whites are related to the fact that there's more sun?

Wow this is embarrassing.  Tongue

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« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2008 08:08:46 PM »

I agree. I've know for years if you really want your whites WHITE you hang them out to dry in the sun instead of tumbling them in the dryer- the UV light counteracts all the dulling agents in most processed water & detergent. Hard water doesn't rinse things as clean as soft water does, calcium can build up in fabrics just like it can build up on your kitchen faucet, dulling the colors.

So I think a combination of: carefully done laundry combined with lots of UV light (both drying & while wearing) makes a significant difference.
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« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2008 08:18:16 PM »

ScotSkipper402, I was afraid of that - I don't have anyone on staff here (except me!) to get my blouses their brightest white!  

The fluorescense effect must be part of the explanation, CinnamonCrane.  I went to watch a play this afternoon, put on by a youth theater group.  When the house lights went down, the kids on stage in white shirts seemed to glow in the dark!

And Penlowe - I remember now that my grandmother hung her clothes and sheets out on the line and everything was so white.  (And smelled great!)  I forgot all that because now I live in Alaska, and it's not often that I can set out my clothing to dry outside. 

Great thoughts, everyone.  Thanks for all the answers!
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