Are these cotton twill pants ruined from the dryer?
September 5, 2011 6:52 PM   Subscribe

I have some cotton pants that I just washed for the first time (prior to now, I've worn only wool pants that were dry cleaned or jeans that were very sparingly machine washed). The new cotton pants were washed on the cold cycle and came out of the dryer (warm or hot, can't remember, but the pants are machine washable/dryable) with large patches of faded-looking spidery marks on the legs. I've ironed the pants, with lots of sprayed water, but the marks are still there. Have I ruined them, or is there something that can be done to get them back to a nice even navy blue all over?
posted by The Michael The to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total)
i'm guessing that these spider-marks are behind the knees? if so, this is known as honeycombing, where your natural walking/moving has caused enough friction on the pants for them to lose color. here's a photo (on denim, but it might apply to your pants as well).

if this is the case, those marks are irreversible. a picture would help, though!!
posted by raihan_ at 6:58 PM on September 5, 2011

No, the lines run along, not across the leg, and I've only worn them two or three times. Also, the marks weren't present prior to the wash/dry cycle like honeycombing would be. No photos now, but if this is still a mystery in the morning, I should be able to work one up.
posted by The Michael The at 7:01 PM on September 5, 2011

And they're on both the front and back of the legs. It's definitely not like what one sees with denim.
posted by The Michael The at 7:02 PM on September 5, 2011

Up and down on the legs, almost like really messy, twisted pleats? Edges of said pleats faded? Dryer too hot or too long. Return the pants to J. Crew with a color fastness complaint and try again with the next pair. Cotton is a natural fabric; it will scorch. I prefer to take it fromn the dryer slightly damp, when it is a lot easier to iron.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:03 PM on September 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

You don't say in your ask, but it may help in the future to wash and dry your pants inside out, to prevent losing color by abrasion in the washer and dryer. That said, a pair of pants you've worn 3x and washed once or twice that get so messed up so quickly need to be returned to JCrew for satisfaction.
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:03 PM on September 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

It's also possible that the pants went into the dryer twisted up? Agreed, return them for "color fastness" and next time you wash pants (or anything really) give it a shake before you put it in the dryer. Helps prevent this wrinkly fading.

Always take things out of the dryer as soon as they're dry, preferably a moment before. (I know, this takes lots of practice. One thing I do is wash things of similar weights together. But then, I have lots of clothes collected over a huge amount of time, but well cared for they seem to last forever.)
posted by bilabial at 7:10 PM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nth return unless -- any chance you had some bleach in your wash?
posted by kmennie at 7:11 PM on September 5, 2011

A picture would help.
posted by rhizome at 7:27 PM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

For the future... NEVER heat a stain. Just no. Heating the fabric will set the stain.

Hey - could it be soap residue that wasn't rinsed properly? This happens to me with darks if I use too much detergent. Try rinsing them again (no detergent) and check on them after the that.

If it is color bleed - return to store. Absolutely.
posted by jbenben at 7:37 PM on September 5, 2011

I have had a similar problem with clothes that are washed in the washing machines in my apartment building. I use liquid detergent, but others use powder, and I sometimes get the residue on my dark clothes. It is remedied by using a lint brush on the item when it is dry. I have to use the kind of lint brush that actually combs the clothing, not the sticky kind. If detergent residue is the issue, this should solve it. In the future, you can rinse the item one more time after washing to get the residue off.
posted by bedhead at 9:02 PM on September 5, 2011

Also: "cold cycle." How cold? What does it say on the label? Some dyes bleed when washed colder than specified (as well as hotter than specified).
posted by Namlit at 2:18 AM on September 6, 2011

Thanks everybody. It's definitely scorching and/or abrasion as suggested by DarlingBri and toodleydoodley, and they'll be going back with color fastness complaints (this was indeed the first wash). To answer further questions, no, there was no bleach, this was not a stain and isn't unrinsed soap residue, and I already shake things out before they go into the dryer.

Bonus best answer to bedhead, because we've seen the detergent residue on other clothing, though it's not the issue with these.
posted by The Michael The at 6:01 AM on September 6, 2011

(In a situation where you can't return something, you can often salvage the item (if it's mostly/all cotton) by using fabric dye fractionally darker than the original color - so if your pants are medium blue, use navy, etc. I've done this with things I couldn't return/replace and didn't want to throw out. Rit dye is fine, but be sure to run a load of darks through the machine after rinsing it out, just in case.)
posted by Frowner at 6:39 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

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