Pink doesn't suit me
July 28, 2011 7:23 PM   Subscribe

How do I keep reds(or other bright colors) from ruining my laundry?

I never used to have any problems with bright colored clothing bleeding onto other clothing when washed, but after a couple recent mishaps I've gotten a bit worried. My worries began when I recently bought a cheap Fruit of the Loom pocket t-shirt of a deep red color and wore it to an amusement park; I got soaked from a water ride and thought nothing of it, till after my clothes dried from being in the sun I noticed that the red shirt had bled onto my khaki pants.

Then I had also been washing a cheap dark red polo shirt I recently bought in with whites, and while at first I didn't notice any bleeding, now I'm starting to notice some of the white shirts going slightly pink.

These recent mishaps worry me because in all the years I've been washing clothes, I've never had clothes noticeably bleed before(including bright reds). I'd like to be able to get back to the point where I can mix in all the clothes together and not have to worry about colors bleeding, if at all possible.

So what are some cheap and easy solutions for getting the moderate bleeding out of my khakis and whites, and is there anything I can do to make my bright colored(red in particular) shirts "bleed-proof"? Could I wash them separately in a basin of some combination with warm water in order to make them more bleed resistant?
posted by Ryogen to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There's this concept of separating out your laundry before washing it that you might look into.

For the pink shirts: try bluing?
posted by zadcat at 7:28 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Are you washing them in cold water? Always use cold water, especially with new items.
posted by something something at 7:29 PM on July 28, 2011 [5 favorites]

Yeah, there's a special red basket in my house to prevent mayhem with other colors. Red just does not play nice with others.
posted by mynameisluka at 7:31 PM on July 28, 2011

have you never heard of separating your whites, lights, and darks when you do laundry?
posted by violetk at 7:31 PM on July 28, 2011

Shout has (had?) a product aimed at people just like you.

(I'd recommend washing bright colours separately and in cooler water.)
posted by subbes at 7:33 PM on July 28, 2011

Traditionally you launder whites, "brights" and darks in different loads. You can mix brights like reds with your darks if you like; cold water wash helps. See also: color catcher. New brights will always bleed.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:36 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hey, dudes...OP seems to be aware of the separating colors thing.

See above: I'd like to be able to get back to the point where I can mix in all the clothes together and not have to worry about colors bleeding, if at all possible.

You could try fixing the dye in your red clothes by soaking them in a salt or vinegar bath. Google "dye mordants" for a method that would suit your particular fabrics.
posted by phunniemee at 7:45 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I really like the Shout color catchers linked above. I really dislike separating out colors (I don't have too much clothing, so if I wait until I have a justifiably-sized load of either lights or darks, I'm half out of clothes) and this has pretty much stopped that. We also wash with Oxyclean and have had really good results with the combination of the two. A lot of my shirts are a dark red color and we haven't had any issues with bleeding.

We also use vinegar in the wash the first time that we wash anything new (I tend to wash all new clothes at once so I only need to throw vinegar in with that load) and it seems to help fix the color.
posted by kro at 8:07 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you don't separate your lights from bright colors/darks, the best result you will get will be dingy whites, even using the color catcher sheets (I've used them since I was postpartum and too out of my mind to sort laundry.)
posted by pinky at 8:27 PM on July 28, 2011

+1 pinky, phunniemee -- you want a mordant and cold water, and your previous laundry practices were sub-optimal -- but another option here is to just fire these hassles back at the people who sold them to you. "The dye runs" is a perfectly valid reason to return something to a store for a refund. I don't know that I would return brand-new dark denim jeans or anything else one might reasonably expect to bleed a bit on initial washings, but, you can't wear it to a splash park? Junk, and the people making and selling it should be discouraged.
posted by kmennie at 9:23 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I also do vinegar in cold to fix colours. Hasn't failed me yet.
posted by batmonkey at 9:48 PM on July 28, 2011

As far as I'm concerned, new clothes of any color other than white are always suspect until they've been washed (and worn) a number of times. So they always go in with the very dark clothes for the first several washings before I'm confident that they'll play nice with lighter colors in the wash.

The Shout color catchers work great in top loading washers, but not in my front-loader. So I use these from Carbona, which have the added advantage of being reusable.
posted by DrGail at 5:10 AM on July 29, 2011

I don't know how similar this is to the Shout product recommended above, but I've often used the Woolite Dye Catcher Sheets. It's like a dryer sheet, but you throw it in the washer.
The reason I bought the box was for repair purposes: the first time I washed a new Tshirt that was white with dark sleeves, the sleeves put gray splotches on the white body of the shirt. I was careful not to throw this in the dryer, because that tends to make stains harder to remove. I ran it through with each of the next few loads of wash, including a new dye magnet sheet, and the stains faded out. Now my standard use of the sheets is the first time I wash anything newly purchased bright-colored, and if the sheet comes out only dingy, not dyed, that means the new article of clothing is pretty safe to wash.
posted by aimedwander at 7:02 AM on July 29, 2011

Ryogen: "My worries began when I recently bought a cheap Fruit of the Loom pocket t-shirt of a deep red color"

Ryogen: "Then I had also been washing a cheap dark red polo shirt I recently bought in with whites"

The solution to your problem is not to buy additional laundry products that introduce more chemicals into your clothes. The solution to your problem is to stop buying cheap shirts. If you have to spend additional money to prevent collateral damage from them, they're not really all that cheap, are they?
posted by mkultra at 9:48 AM on July 29, 2011

Re: salt and vinegar:

Vinegar only helps maintain a consistent pH for acid washed dyes, and those are not used on cotton, they are used on proteins. It also must be used with heat, and often, salt. Vinegar is not a mordant; it is used to adjust the pH of the dye bath. It definitely won't help after the fact on cotton clothing.

Salt is not a mordant. Mordants are metal ions, and you must use them before dying to attract natural dyes to the fiber. Salt will not fix dye to fibers. Usually what is going on with people who have success with washing their clothes with salt is that the first, extra washing removes excess dye.

So what do you do? Wash clothes separately. Even properly dyed clothes can have excess dye. You can by a true fixative like Retayne, if you really want to toss all your clothes in the same wash.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:41 AM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Shout Colour Catchers are amazing! They will do exactly what you want. They are one of the few things in life that I have found actually work as promised/advertised.

I quilt, had a fail and forgot to prewash fabric for a BLACK and WHITE quilt. These sheets saved the day!
posted by saradarlin at 9:04 PM on July 29, 2011

I wash dark dark colors - navy and black- separately, and if I have something red, it gets washed with darks. I wash whites separately because they will go dingy over time. Red is a difficult color; it fades more quickly and the dye is likely to run. If I have a smallish amount of laundry, I'll put lighter colors in with white and darker colors in with dark. I never put them all together.

Boy, caring about laundry makes me feel like an old fart.
posted by theora55 at 9:07 AM on August 2, 2011

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