Trivia

Hard

Counterintuitively, “Bluing” Fabric Doesn’t Turn It Blue, But?

White
Black
Yellow
Green
Photo of a laundry bluing kit from France.
Monnin Jacques/Wikimedia

Answer: White

For centuries, people have improved the appearance of their clothing through a process known as bluing, but despite what the name might imply, it doesn’t turn fabric blue. The process does add blue dye to the water, but the end goal is not to turn the fabric as blue as the source material, but to make white fabrics appear a crisper, cleaner shade of white.

How does adding small amounts of blue dye to a load of whites produce a crisper looking white fabric? White fabrics yellow over time. Add a little blue dye to the mix and, by the magic of complementary color theory in the subtractive model of color perception, the combined blue and yellow tints make the white fabric appear brighter than in its unaltered state.

Today, laundry detergents may include bluing agents but, unlike their historical counterparts that were actual blue dyes, modern bluing agents are actually fluorescing agents designed to bind to white fabric and give the fabric a brighter white appearance. None the less, if you’re so inclined to experiment with traditional bluing methods to brighten your whites, you can do so—old fashioned laundry bluing can still be found alongside modern detergents and fabric softeners.

Trivia

Hard

Stephen King’s “The Shining” Was Inspired By Which Of These Real Life Hotels?

Trivia

Easy

What Is The Only Day Of The Week That Derives Its Name From Roman Mythology?

Trivia

Very Hard

The World’s Oldest Surviving Aerial Photograph Captures What City?

Trivia

Easy

The Great Lakes Were Formed By?

Trivia

Hard

Which Planet’s Days Are Longer Than Its Years?

Trivia

Hard

The Strongest Winds In Our Solar System Are Found On?

Trivia

Easy

Which Automotive Company’s Name Is Astronomical In Origin?

Trivia

Hard

Work On Which Of These Sci-Fi Movies Actually Led To Real World Scientific Papers?

Trivia

Easy

Standardized Time Keeping Was Brought About By The Advent Of What?

Trivia

Hard

During World War II, Which Of These Types Of Correspondence Were Banned To Prevent Spying?