Top Tips to Prevent Colors from Fading

The best way to keep colors from fading is to wash your clothes as little and as gently as possible. Or better yet, not at all. The water, the friction from agitation, the detergent, and the drying—all of these contribute to pulling out that bright color from your clothing. But since hand-washing and line-drying aren't always practical, you need to learn how to wash clothes in the machine to minimize fading. As it turns out, most of these tips are good for your clothes in general and will...MORE help them last longer and look better, not just brighter. 

  • 01 of 08

    Wash Dark Colors Together

    Sorted laundry
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    Sorting clothes is a great opportunity to check the care label and place your clothing in the correct pile. Anyone who has ever washed one red sock with an entire load of whites knows the pain that can happen when colors fade away. To prevent dark colors from fading, keep like colors together.

  • 02 of 08

    Turn Clothes Inside Out

    Jeans inside out
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    Some of the wear and tear that happens on your clothing can be prevented by turning your clothing inside out before washing and drying. Washing and drying clothing is rough on the outside of your clothing. Turning garments inside out reduces pilling, which dulls the look of the fabric. It's even more important to turn clothing inside out when you hang clothes outside to dry. While the sun is an excellent and efficient drying tool, it will zap the color right out of your clothing.

  • 03 of 08

    Read the Care Label

    It takes only a few seconds, but reading the care labels may save a lot of heartaches when your clothes come out of the wash. Check for instructions, which might say to wash only in cold water, or with like colors. Don't forget to check for drying instructions as well. The label may indicate that the clothing needs to be dried on low, or drip-dried.

  • 04 of 08

    Don't Stuff the Washer

    Full washing machine
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    Stuffing the washer to capacity is tempting, but it comes with several drawbacks. It makes the machine work harder, and it is tougher on your clothes. The detergent and rinse water aren't distributed properly, and clothing doesn't come out as clean when it is packed into a washing machine. Similarly, clothing takes a lot longer to dry when a dryer is stuffed. Let the items move freely by leaving a bit of room.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Wash in Cold

    One of the best pieces of laundry advice is to wash colors in cold. Detergents have come a long way in recent years, and most perform as well in cold water as they do in hot or warm.

  • 06 of 08

    Don't Overdry

    Laundry dryer
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    It's easy to let clothing overdry. While this is bad for all laundry, it is particularly bad for bright and dark colors. Overdrying will cause your colors to fade. Set a timer and don't forget about your clothes. Clothes should be slightly damp when they are pulled from the dryer. Since drying adds heat and friction to the equation, it's even better to line-dry clothes to retain colors. Just remember to turn colored items inside out to prevent fading from the sun. 

  • 07 of 08

    Add Vinegar

    Vinegar in various bottle
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    Vinegar doesn't have the most pleasant smell, but adding a cup to your washing machine will give you a natural fabric softener and help prevent colors from fading. The good news? The vinegar smell goes away in the wash.

  • 08 of 08

    Use the Gentle Cycle or a Gentle Detergent

    Basket with laundry and detergents
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    If you want to make sure your colors last as long as possible, wash using your machine's gentle cycle, or hand-wash your special clothing. There are several detergents on the market that are formulated to prevent fading and color loss.