How to Keep Clothes from Fading

Three Parts:Preparing Colored Clothes For WashingWashing Colored ClothingDrying Colored Clothing

Clothing may undergo more wear and tear while you are laundering it than it does while you’re wearing it. When fibers break due to colliding with surfaces, the raw fiber ends make the surface look dull. Over time they will also lose dye and become faded.[1]Although you can’t prevent it completely, you can extend the life and color of your clothes by years by following some simple sorting, washing and drying guidelines.



Part 1
Preparing Colored Clothes For Washing

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    Turn all dark and bright clothes inside out before you wash them. The majority of the fiber breakage will occur on the inside of the fabric, where no one will see.[2]
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    Clasp buttons, zip zippers and wash belts separately. These closures can be extremely hard on soft and colored clothing, so eliminate abrasion and fiber breakage by taking a few extra minutes to fasten up before each load.
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    Separate black clothing, pastel clothing, bright clothing and white clothing into different loads. While you may already sort by the temperature (cold or hot), you can improve the brightness of your clothes by reducing the amount of off-color dyes the clothes come into contact with.
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    Place delicates, belts and lingerie in a pillowcase or laundry sleeve. A bra strap wrapped around a delicate garment will break down fibers faster.[3]
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    Place blue jeans in their own washer load. Denim and other tough fabrics can cause more wear and tear on fibers. Just as you wouldn’t wash your athletic shoes with lingerie, you shouldn’t wash hard worn items with delicates.

Part 2
Washing Colored Clothing

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    Purchase a high efficiency (HE) washer. Modern HE washers use a slow, longer tumbling action to wash clothes. Although any contact with the washbasin can be hard on fibers, it is gentler than the traditional agitator washbasin.[4]
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    Use a mild detergent. Purchase a detergent that is intended for HE washers. Fill it to less than the maximum amount, unless there is very heavy soil.
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    Wash new bright or dark items separately on the first wash. You want to use a cold setting of approximately 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius) and the minimum level of mild detergent.
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    Choose a cold wash for all colored, bright and dark (separate) loads. Don’t let the temperature rise above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius). Most modern detergent brands are just as effective in cold water.[5]
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    Set your washer to the shortest cycle. Again, unless there is heavy soil, it will be enough to wash the clothes and prevent fading.
    • If you have heavy soil in your socks, gym clothes or underwear, purchase an enzyme detergent. Wash these heavy soil items separately at 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 26 degrees Celsius).
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    Adjust your wash routine in cold winters. If you live in a cold climate, your cold-water wash may run at 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) instead of 60 (16 degrees). Since this temperature is too low to wash your clothes with most detergents, you will need to use a warm setting while the water is colder.[6]
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    Pour one-half to one cup (118 to 237 ml) of white vinegar into your wash cycle with your bright loads. Vinegar is said to set colors.
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    Add one-half cup (146 g) table salt to the wash cycle while washing bright colors that are likely to bleed. Textile makers use salt to set dye in fabrics, so the clothes are less likely to bleed.[7]
    • Salt is a commonly used ingredient in color safe detergents.

Part 3
Drying Colored Clothing

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    Hang dry all your colored garments, if you have the space to do so. Heat and tumbling in the dryer will contribute to fading. Buy a rack and hang your clothes to dry inside.
    • Lay wool items out flat on a towel to dry them.
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    Line dry in out of direct sunlight during the warmer months. Your clothes will usually smell fresh and retain more color than they would with constant drying cycles.
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    Set the dryer to the lowest amount of time possible. Overdrying will beat up the clothes and fade them prematurely.
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    Change into different clothing if you are in bright sunlight all day. Direct sunlight will start to bleach the fabric almost immediately. The closer you are to the equator, the stronger this effect will be.

Tips

  • Always read the care label when you purchase a new item of clothing. Take expensive items to the dry cleaners. Since many dry cleaners use chemicals or gentle washing, your items will fade more slowly.

Things You'll Need

  • Pillowcase/laundry sleeve
  • High efficiency washer
  • HE mild detergent
  • Enzyme detergent
  • Drying rack
  • Clothesline
  • Towel
  • Measuring cup
  • White vinegar
  • Salt


Article Info

Categories: Laundry