How To Stop Black Clothes From Fading

If we lived in an ideal world we'd take all our clothes to the dry cleaners and it would be magically teleported back to our wardrobes, free of charge. But we don't, so let's do this instead.


by Zing Tsjeng |
Published on

In an ideal world, we would all drop off our clothes at a drycleaners and then they would be magically teleported into your wardrobe, perfectly washed and folded. Sadly, life doesn’t work out that way, which is why I systematically ruined countless black tees and jeans by putting them in the wash. That is, until I came up with a foolproof system to stop dark clothes from fading – and now, you too can save your black T-shirt from fading when it’s been through the wash a zillion times.

Two things cause the colour to fade from your garments: vigorous wash cycles and water temperature. During washing, your clothes slam into one another and collide with the inside of the machine at high speed. This causes fibres in the fabric to tear, exposing raw fibre ends that disrupt the surface of the garment and tricking the eye into seeing faded colour.

The best way to avoid this happening? Don’t overload your washer – it makes the machine go into overdrive and makes it tougher on clothes. Use a gentler, shorter wash cycle. And even if it’s a pain, make sure you fasten all the hooks, do up all the buttons and turn clothing inside out so the surface of the garment doesn’t have anything to catch onto.

Putting on a high temperature wash also encourages dye loss. Ideally, opt for a cold-water cycle; there are lots of detergents, like Persil, that work in lower temperatures. Plus washing your clothes in colder water can cut your electricity bill – result! (Pro tip: liquid detergents are usually better for washing at low temperatures – powder detergents might not dissolve properly in cold water.)

Don’t forget to separate your clothes by colour. Yeah yeah, it’s totally annoying when you want both your white T-shirt and your black jeans to be clean. But much the same way it takes one red sock to turn everything pink, your dark clothes will not benefit from being washed with wildly varying colours. Sort your dark garments from your light ones and your clothes will thank you.

Black T-shirt all washed and clean? It doesn’t end there. Try not to rely on the dryer every single time – like a high-speed wash cycle, it tends to damage the fabric. Instead, hang dry dark garments, and for god’s sake, keep them out of direct sunlight. The sun doesn’t just bleach your hair, it also bleaches your clothes; I’ve come home once to find out my dark denim shirt had transformed into a stonewashed one after hanging it near a sunny window.

If everything else fails and your dark clothes still keep fading in the wash, just buy more expensive clothes. Seriously. There’s a reason your black Primark tee goes dark grey in the wash: high quality pieces use better dyes and fabrics, and that means they won’t wear out as fast. So go ahead – treat yourself to that pair of £150 J Brand black jeans. It’s not like you need our permission, right?

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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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