Any advice for keeping chef whites white?
– Culinary Student, Philadelphia, PA
The problem with most cleaning advice is it’s stain-specific. For red-wine stains, juice, blood, chocolate and so on, advice varies. The problem with chef whites is that by the end of the day, you may have multiple stains from multiple ingredients. Further, you’re probably too tired to analyze the makeup of each one so just toss it in the hamper.
Adrienne Hall, a chef at Congress Hall in Cape May, NJ and chef-instructor at Drexel University says, "Wear an apron. When I wash my chef coat I use hot water, a touch of bleach and 20-mule team borax. I also use pods, I love them they work so well. Also I don't put it in the dryer, just let it air dry in sunlight. This gives you another chance to get any more stains out. Stains like turmeric and curry powder just don't come out."
My best advice is to contract with a uniform service and change jackets out frequently. My house-washed jackets never come out as well as those I professionally launder.
If you’re stuck doing your own, I discovered dish soap as a young cook. On the basis that dishwashing liquid is good at removing food residue, I tried it on my chef coats and it did work pretty well, especially as a pre-wash with laundry detergent in the next round.
After that it gets muddy—some chefs swear by a particular brand of detergent. Others mix (not recommended), and others give up.
More on washing chef coats here.