How can I keep my clothes from fading?
May 31, 2009 4:25 PM   Subscribe

How can I keep my clothes from fading after washing them?

Most of my clothes end up fading over time after they have been washed several times. It is most noticeable with my black clothes, but it also happens with my bright colored clothes. I recently bought some clothes, and I don't want this to happen to them. What can I do to help fight the fading process and keep my clothes looking somewhat new?
posted by Four-Eyed Girl to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Hand wash your clothes; the agitator on washing machines is harsh. If you must use a machine, turn your clothes inside-out before washing them, add a bit of vinegar to the wash and use cold water. Also, obviously don't wash them anymore than necessary.
posted by Polychrome at 4:34 PM on May 31, 2009

* Wash them in cold water
* Turn them inside out
* Use the delicate cycle
* Buy a gentle detergent
* Air-dry instead of using the dryer
posted by aquafortis at 4:39 PM on May 31, 2009

The dryer is the key. Don't. Hang them to dry, iron to get the wrinkles out, if you care. And use water as cool as possible (if they get greasy, you need at least warmish water).

And work on getting all superior because you have cool old faded clothes, instead of garish new clothes.
posted by kestralwing at 4:48 PM on May 31, 2009

Wash inside out, in cold water, and don't put them in the dryer.
posted by Kololo at 5:27 PM on May 31, 2009

This is what I do:

Wash in cold water, inside-out, as mentioned above.

Put in dryer (still inside-out) on delicate cycle, low or no heat, just long enough for the wrinkles to get jostled out of them.

Hang up (right side out now), with all buttons buttoned and zippers zipped.

Rarely do I have to iron anymore, and my dark clothes stay dark much longer.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:46 PM on May 31, 2009

Before you wash them for the first time, soak overnight in a tub/bucket of cold water with a cup of plain white vinegar. It helps to set dark colours. Wash everything in cold water and dry warm/cool just to the point of dampness and hang up or skip the dryer. I add a bit of ammonia to the wash if to get out grease or set in dirt and still use cold. If using warm, I add a bit of washing soda. Easy on these, too, or you're destroying the fabric.
posted by x46 at 6:50 PM on May 31, 2009 [2 favorites]

Don't use bleach, or Oxi-Clean, or any laundry detergent that contains bleach or bleaching agents (read the labels!). Use half as much detergent as the box recommends. Do not use hot water -- warm or cold will get nearly everything clean (I use hot when I'm washing camp bedding, and not much else). Use white vinegar instead of fabric softener. Do not overdry.

I have shirts that are older than my HS grad that aren't faded other than at wear lines (collar seams, hems, inseams, etc) or from the sun. I don't handwash anything except handknits (and not all of them).
posted by jlkr at 7:03 PM on May 31, 2009

Change detergents. Tide, I've noticed, is especially bad. My clothes never fade anymore since I switched from Tide and I'm pretty cavalier about laundry. I'll turn some things inside out if I'm washing a load of delicate shirts, for example, but everything else pretty much gets washed on cold with Kirkland HE liquid laundry detergent.

Also, avoid optical brighteners and fabric softeners.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 10:29 PM on May 31, 2009

I hang all my dark clothes under cover to stop them fading. I'm in a sub tropical climate, so they dry no problem, but consider hanging them on a drying rack indoors if you have the space. Small frequent loads help with this. Save the sunshine for underwear. If you must hand things in the sun, turn them inside out so they fade on the side that no-one sees.

I also use a specialist wash on my clothes - Radiant Black Wash. Wool wash is also good because of how gentle it is. Always use cold water. Vinegar is also awesome for setting color, and I'd reccomend running a litre of the stuff through clothes that get a lot of sweaty body contact (t-shirts and the like) every now and then to kill off any BO causing bacteria.
posted by Jilder at 2:19 AM on June 1, 2009

posted by dseaton at 4:01 AM on June 1, 2009

I'm confused as to why turning them inside out does anything. Wouldn't it be more friction when the insides are rubbing against each other as it would be when they were randomly bumping up against things in the machine?
posted by sully75 at 4:31 AM on June 1, 2009

If the water in your area is chlorinated, it tends to accelerate fading. Cheer Dark works well. In my experience, dryer use makes no difference. No bleach, and don't hang black clothes in the sun. Hang white things in the sun to get rid of stains, though. Mo matter what I do, though, black clothes fade.
posted by theora55 at 6:53 AM on June 1, 2009

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