Laundry. You either hate doing it or accept it as one of those household chores that just has to happen every week. But very few people actually enjoy it.
Why? Well, it’s easy to damage your favorite shirt and annoying to hunt down those missing socks that the dryer always nabs after a cycle.
But no matter what, you still have to wash your clothes. And the longer you can keep your clothing looking nice and new, the more money you’ll save in the long-run.
The average American household spends close to $150 a month on clothing. And though the reason for those new clothing purchases varies from person to person, many end up having to go shopping because their brightly colored towels or shirts faded, leaving the items looking old and worn.
The best way to save money and your closet at the same time is to learn how to prevent color-fade in the first place.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at some simple ways to prevent faded colors and keep your brights bright and your darks dark.
Follow the Care Instructions on the Tag
Every piece of clothing, set of sheets and towels, and even throw rugs come with care instructions. These instructions tell you how to wash the items to keep them looking like new as long as possible.
Before you ever put an item inside the washing machine, take some time to look at the care instructions on the tag. This handy chart explains everything you need to know to interpret those symbols.
Follow these instructions as closely as possible. Doing so will help reduce the risk of color fading and keep your clothes from wearing out prematurely.
Wash Your Clothes Inside Out
In most cases, faded colors are not caused by the dye bleeding out of the fabric. Instead, it’s due to the friction caused by the clothes rubbing against each other in the washing machine.
The best way to protect your colors and any designs screen printed on the fabric is to wash your clothes inside out.
When you toss items into the wash, the inside of the clothing gets rubbed at first. Since the inside of your pants and shirts typically has less dye than the outside, you’ll keep colors looking bright for longer.
Wash with Like Colors
Unfortunately, you can’t wash all items inside out. But that doesn’t mean you can’t protect your towels and linens from color fade.
All cloth will leach some dye in the wash. This is natural and will happen in almost every load, no matter how old the items are. But you can minimize the color loss by washing like colors together.
Wash blue jeans and other dark colored items in one load, reds in another, and light colors or whites in yet another load.
Any dye that leaches out during the wash gets absorbed by the other similarly colored clothing. Instead of losing color, your items will help keep each other looking great.
Don’t Overfill the Washer
We’ve all overfilled the washing machine at some point. After all, no one wants to spend an entire afternoon washing multiple loads of dirty laundry!
But doing so can damage your clothes more quickly.
When the machine is overfilled, the clothes can’t spin around as easily. This makes it hard for the soapy water to spread throughout the load evenly. Worse, it makes the machine work harder to finish the cycle.
This can increase the amount of friction each item experiences in the wash. Worse, it makes it easier for colors to bleed onto other items. And no one wants a bright pink shirt when it’s supposed to be white!
Instead, fill your machine until it’s no more than ¾ full for a large load. This will let your clothes move in the drum more easily.
Forget the Hot Cycle
Washing in warm and hot water loosens the fibers and the dye attached to those fibers. The more you wash your items on hot, the more you’ll have to deal with color fading.
Instead, wash your items on cold. The cold water helps keep the dye where it belongs. Though some dye will still leach out into the water, it will be far less than on other settings.
This will keep your clothes looking great for as long as possible.
Don’t Over-Wash Your Items
Washing machines come with soil settings for a reason. It gives you control over how much agitation your clothes experience in the cycle.
Really dirty items like gym clothes and workwear will need the heavy soil setting to get rid of the dirt and grime. But items you wear daily or those that are delicate probably won’t.
Instead of running everything through the normal or heavy cycle, wash items according to how dirty they are.
And don’t’ be afraid to run delicate or heavily-colored items through the gentle cycle. This puts less wear and tear on the fibers and helps keep the dye where it belongs.
Skip the Softener and Use Vinegar
Fabric softener is not the same as fabric conditioner. It leaves your clothes feeling soft and comfortable, but it does this by loosening the fibers. This makes color fade happen more quickly.
Instead of reaching for the fabric softener, ditch it entirely. Use a quarter cup of white vinegar in each load. The vinegar will soften the fibers without stretching them and helps the dye lock into each piece of clothing.
Don’t worry about the smell. It will wash out with the rinse water.
Stop Faded Colors from Becoming a Problem
These tips should help you keep faded colors from ever becoming a problem. But you still need to start with high-quality fabrics in the first place.
Browse our selection and replace those faded items in your linen cabinet with beautiful vibrant colors. If you have questions about the materials or want help finding the right options for your home, contact us today.