How to Wash & Dry Clothes So They Do Not Lose Color

Brightly colored clothes look vibrant when you bring them home from the store, but they can fade with repeated washing. Although a certain amount of fading over time is inevitable, laundering your colors correctly can minimize color loss. Not only is it important to wash with the right detergent in the right temperature water, it matters how you dry. A little extra care will keep your colored clothing brighter longer.

A close-up of a woman washing a striped t-shirt in warm soapy water. (Image: tfexshutter/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Wash colored clothing less often to slow fading. Do this by wearing clothes more than once unless they're really dirty. If you only wear them for a couple of hours and they still smell fresh, hang them back up to wear again.

Step 2

Separate your colored clothes from your whites before doing laundry. White clothing, such as T-shirts, socks and underwear, often needs to be washed in hot water, which can accelerate fading.

Step 3

Turn non-white garments inside out before you wash them, because friction between clothes can dull colored fibers. Inside-out washing prevents the fronts of the garments from rubbing together.

Step 4

Always wash colors in cold water. Hand-wash your clothes, if possible. In a machine, wash them on the delicate cycle and set the water temperature to cold.

Step 5

Use color-protecting laundry detergent and one tablespoon of regular table salt in the wash. Salt helps set the dye in the fabric. Read the package directions to see how much detergent to add.

Step 6

Add your clothing to a top-loading washer after it fills with water. Run the washer for the shortest amount of time the settings allow. The less time the clothing has to experience friction, the less fading occurs.

Step 7

Minimize how much time clothes are in the dryer, or dry clothing on hangers out of direct sunlight. Create an indoor clothesline by placing clothes on hangers and hanging them on a shower rod. If you use an outdoor clothesline, take the clothes off the line as soon as they're dry, because bright sunlight causes fading.

Things You'll Need

  • Color-protecting detergent

  • Salt

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