How to lock colors in for good

You just bought a pair of cute jet-black denim jeans that give you feeling of being dressed up in comfort. It’s a perfect combination.

Yet, you feel certain that the color that makes you look and feel good won’t last for long. You consider your options so that what has become your go-to favorite doesn’t turn into the faded pair left at the bottom of the dresser drawer.

To help you keep those black jeans black, we’ve developed a series of tips to use on dark-load wash day.

First, why does color leave fibers?

Clothes will bleed and fade as dyes disappear from clothing fibers. Whether clothing is overdyed to look stellar in the store, dyes aren’t well-set, or the wrong dye type was used on a fabric, dye loss can create a challenge to keep clothes looking just-from-the-store new.

Some dyes transfer color when they rub against another surface. Others leach when fabric gets wet. Also, chemicals can release or bleach colors, as can ultraviolet light.

A clue as to whether clothes are more likely to bleed and fade is on the product label. If you see warnings such as “color may wash off,” “do not use detergent,” “wash before wearing,” or “use cold water,” chances are those gorgeous hues may bleed. If the label doesn’t mention these warnings, your clothing is likely colorfast, meaning the dyes are more resistant to bleeding and fading. Also, synthetic fabrics retain color better than natural fibers, such as cotton or wool, for example.

How to wash with peace of mind

The good news is that there are a few ways to keep your clothes’ original colors lasting longer. To wash without worry, use these tips to reduce fading and bleeding:

  • Separate lights and pastels from dark-colored clothes, then wash similar colors together. If any dyes are released, they won’t discolor other clothes.
  • Turn clothes inside-out to reduce friction that leads to fading on the outside.
  • Wash heavy fabrics apart from more delicate ones, and zip all zippers to reduce friction.
  • Wash in cold water, which keeps fibers closed, trapping dye inside. Warm water opens fibers and sets dye free. Many detergents work well in any water temperature, and using cold water also saves money.
  • Wash clothes using the permanent press or gentle setting, which are easier on your laundry than regular cycles.
  • Don’t overfill your washer or pack clothes into the washer. Not only will they come out cleaner, clothing also will be exposed to less friction.
  • Add 1 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle or one-half cup salt to the wash to help hold in colors.
  • Use color-catcher sheets, which trap extraneous dyes during the wash cycle to prevent bleeding.
  • Don’t overstuff your dryer. Clothes will dry faster.
  • If line drying outside, remove clothes as soon as they’re dry to minimize UV exposure.

In most cases, clothing will stop releasing dye after a few washes. But, its best to continue using these tips to minimize bleeding and fading so you can feel good wearing those jet-black jeans time and again.