Laundry Tip: How to Keep Clothes from Fading

If you’re having problems with colors fading in the wash, don’t bother with fancy detergents. For keeping your darks dark and brights bright, all your laundry really needs is a little extra TLC.

4 Ways to Protect Laundry Colors

Colors fade from our clothing for a few simple reasons. Once you know what they are, you can prevent fading and keep all of your laundry looking good—without having to splurge on special soap!

1. Water Temperature

Washing colors in warm and hot water encourages dye loss. To protect your darks and brights, it’s best to use cold-water cycles. At that setting, the water temperature is usually be between 60-80 degrees. When running your machine in the wintertime, though, it’s better to bump up the temperature to wash in warm water and rinse with cold. Freezing weather outside can bring your washer’s temperature below 40 degrees. And when that happens, even cold-water detergents won’t work right.

2. Water Quality

The quality of your tap water and its chlorine level has a major effect on laundry. Because municipal treatment centers use chlorine as a disinfectant, essentially all of the unfiltered water we use at home contains a diluted form of chlorine bleach. (And we know what bleach does to laundry!) Having clean, chlorine-free water from a whole-house water filter means your clothes can get clean without going through an unintended bleach cycle.

3. Color Sorting

Once you’ve taken care of your water, protecting the color of your clothes comes down to how you sort your loads. Separate articles by color intensity (darks, whites, brights, and pastels) so if the dyes bleed, your similar-color clothes can reabsorb the dye that’s in the water and your lighter clothes won’t get stained.

4. Wash Inside-Out

It’s also important to wash items inside-out to protect their original color. As your clothes get tossed around in the washing machine, the friction inevitably causes some of the fabric fibers to break. When this happens, the “broken” surface makes the color look faded. Washing your clothes inside-out means you won’t be able to see those split fibers when you’re dressed. With these easy tips, your family’s laundry can stay colorful wash after wash. Even if the dirty pile doesn’t stop growing—let’s face it, the laundry is never all “done”—at least you’ve got a few more tricks up your sleeves to make each load more efficient and fade-free!