How to Wash Colored Clothes? Steps & Guides
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How to Wash Colored Clothes? Steps & Guides

You’re upset because your laundry has running colors. Here’s how to wash colored clothing properly to stop bleeding, slow fading, and maintain the vibrancy of your colors.

Fun as they may be, colorful clothing requires special care because it can fade and lose color more quickly than light or dark clothing. Your colored clothing will last longer if you wash and care for it properly.

So how to wash colored clothes? The very best way to keep your colored clothes from fading is to wash them less frequently. And that’s a fantastic way to save money on laundry supplies, energy, and water as well!

Use the tips below to maintain the best possible appearance for your dress shirts, pants, skirts, sweaters, and blouses.

Steps to Wash Colored Clothes

Your favorite outfits can last longer and the colors will stay vibrant if you wash colored clothing with the proper detergent, wash cycle, water temperature, and drying technique according to the care tag.

Gather the supplies below and walk through eight easy steps that teach you ways to wash colors in any type of washing machine.

Check Labels

Finding the proper wash temperature and cycle using the instructions on your clothing labels can help you preserve the appearance and life of your clothes. Before you toss your clothes in the washing machine, take some time to double-check labels and set aside clothes that need hand washing or are dry clean only.

Sort Clothing

How to Wash Colored Clothes? Steps & Guides

Sorting clothes before washing helps keep your clothes from fading and bleeding during wash and dry cycles. This step is relatively simple and can be a great chore for your kids if some extra help is needed in the laundry room.

Try to combine similar hues; place pastels in one group, then separate red, orange, and yellow items from darker-hued green, blue, or purple items. If your brights are brand-new, wash them separately for the first few washes to prevent dye bleed onto other items of clothing.

Sorting by color can help keep your clothes looking vibrant, but sorting by fabric type and weight can be just as important, especially when washing wool. By combining fabrics of the same weight, you can prevent harming clothing fibers.

While you’re sorting, separate towels and sheets from your clothing and wash them using a long, hot wash cycle to get a thorough clean.

Pretreat Clothes

If the clothing is very dirty, pre-treat it and put it aside to wash it separately. In accordance with the care label for the item, the level of soiling, and the use of cold water, select the shortest wash cycle possible.

Avoid putting the stained item in the dryer because heat will set the stain if one of your brights bleeds onto another. Instead, wash this item alone in cold water until the dye is removed.

Load the Washer

Loading the washer seems pretty straightforward, but there are some best practices by washer type that ensure your clothes are thoroughly cleaned. Assemble the load evenly and arrange the objects loosely around the impeller or agitator to give them room to move.

How to Wash Colored Clothes? Steps & Guides

Add items that loosely fit into the drum to a front-load washer. Make sure you don’t pack the washer drum too tightly because an overfilled washer won’t allow clothes to tumble or clean effectively.

Before you shut the door, make sure that all of the clothing has been loaded into the drum. Add a few fresh towels to the load to help balance it out if you’re only planning to wash one or two items.

Add the Right Amount of Detergent

Using more detergent than you need can leave residues on clothing, visually fade colors, and attract more dirt. Choose a detergent without boosters or bleach substitutes to help prevent dyes from bleeding.

Set Water Temperature

Do you wash colored clothing in hot or cold water when setting the cycle now? Clothing that is colored—especially clothing that is bright and bold in color—should be washed in cold water. Cooler water temperatures are used during cold cycles to help stop color bleeding and fading.

Don’t forget to check the care tag on your clothing before washing because elements like fabric type can also affect the wash temperature.

Set Cycle Type

Washing clothes always contributes to some wear, but a gentle cycle limits the amount and time of agitation in the washer to help care for clothing fibers— and can help reduce how rapidly clothes pill and colors fade. Pretreat heavily soiled loads as much as possible, but if they require a more thorough cleaning, increase the intensity with a Normal wash cycle.

Avoid putting the stained item in the dryer because heat will set the stain if one of your brights bleeds onto another. Instead, rinse this item thoroughly in cold water to remove any remaining dye.

Dry With Low Heat

How to Wash Colored Clothes? Steps & Guides

The sun from outdoor drying may cause colors to fade, so it is best to dry colored clothing in a machine dryer or on an indoor drying rack.

Hanging your clothes indoors and out of direct sunlight can help preserve the color and quality of your clothing, but tumble-drying on a low-heat cycle can also get the job done with minimal wear to your favorite outfits.

Use the lowest dryer cycle heat setting advised by the care label on your item, and take out your laundry as soon as it is finished.


How to Wash Lighter-colored Clothes?

Due to their lack of heavy dyes, lighter-colored fabrics are delicate and therefore absorbent when washed with darker or more vibrantly colored clothing.

Always check the care label on your light clothing for information on the wash cycle and water temperature. This will ensure the best results. then group them with other items of clothing that are light in color into separate loads.

Regardless of the fabric type, lighter clothing is typically washed in warmer water. While reducing the likelihood of shrinking or wrinkling by balancing the cleaning power of hot and cold water, washing should always be done in accordance with the care label’s instructions.

How to Wash Dark-colored Clothes?

Given that dark and black clothing is frequently heavily dyed, extra care should be taken to prevent fading. Always check the care label before washing to make sure you’re using the right cycle and temperature. The rule of thumb is that the water temperature should be colder the darker the clothing, as this will help prevent fading.

Moreover, run a delicate cycle while washing the clothes inside out. Use minimal or no heat when drying. To reduce fading, air drying your clothes on a rack or clothesline is preferable if you have the time.

Further Reading: Why Do Your Clothes Smell After Washing?

How Does Colored Clothing Fade?

How to Wash Colored Clothes? Steps & Guides

Dyed clothing fades in three main ways:


Color can transfer between dyed fabrics when they rub against one another. This is known as crocking, and it can take place in both the dryer and the washing machine.

Color Bleeding

When dyed fabrics are wet, the dye leaks from the fibers and into the water. Some bleed a lot and stain other fabrics in the water. Some bleed very little and don’t get on other clothes.

Exposure to Bleach Or Sunlight

Your clothes’ colors are chemically removed by bleach. Chromophores, chemical bonds in dyes that absorb light at various wavelengths, are deteriorated by the UV rays from sunlight.

How to Reduce Color Bleeding?

After a few washes, many clothes will stop bleeding dye. Others will always bleed. Here’s what to do to help prevent it:

  • Set the dye: You can sometimes—but not always—set the dye by mixing half a cup of vinegar into the wash water.
  • Wash solo: To see if the colors bleed when you buy new clothing, wash it by itself. Always wash them with items that are very similar in color if they do.
  • Turn bleeders inside out: Turn new clothing inside-out for the first few washings, and always turn denim jeans inside-out, unless you like the faded appearance.

Final Words: Wash Colored Clothes

Experts claim that a variety of factors, such as using the wrong detergent or warm water that breaks down fabric fibers, can result in faded colors.

When washing colored clothing in the washing machine, it’s safe to use water that’s as warm as the care label recommends. By doing this, you can increase the cleaning power of your machine while preventing your clothes from shrinking, wrinkling, or fading. Obviously, before washing a garment, you should read the care label.


Do You Wash Colored Clothes in Warm Or Cold Water?

Washing in Cold Water can assist in reducing fading and color bleeding. The fibers of clothing are more harmed by hot water. To maintain the vibrant, deep colors’ best appearance, wash dark-colored clothing in cold water.

Is It OK to Wash Colored Clothes Together?

It’s very important to wash your light and dark clothes separately, as darker dyes can ruin lighter fabrics. Sort your pinks, lavenders, light blues, light greens, and yellows into one laundry load and your greys, blacks, navies, reds, dark purples, and similar colors into another.

Will Colors Bleed in Warm Water?

Hot water opens up fibers in the clothing, which releases dye, while cold water helps keep them closed, trapping the dye to help prevent color bleeding. In particular, during the cold and flu season, sheets and towels are an exception to this rule.

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