How To Keep Black Clothes From Fading

September 21, 2016 by Justine Schwartz
shefinds | Style

Hey, while we’re talking about laundry today, let’s talk about how to keep your black clothing from fading (it is almost black jeans season, after all!). The worst thing in the world (okay, not really) is when your jet black jeans or tops start to fade slowly wash by wash, wear by wear, until they’re basically dark grey. Then it makes matching black clothes with each other more difficult–now you’ve got a 50 shades of grey situation going on. The worst!

READ MORE: The Best Black Leggings That Don’t Go See-Thru

We spoke with Tide & Downy Principal Scientist Mary Johnson to get the low-down on how laundry experts keep black clothes from fading. Her advice was this: “Wash them in cold water, inside-out and don’t dry in the dryer–lay flat to dry.”

Well, that’s simple enough! Here’s more info on Mary’s tips, as well as a few others:

Don’t over-wash them. Remember that you don’t actually need to wash jeans that much (or ever), and this is one of the big reasons why black clothing starts to fade in the first place. Put jeans in the freezer to kill germs and spot clean them with a wet wash cloth instead of running them through a complete cycle. Black clothing that’s worn over other layers, like a black cardigan worn over a t-shirt or a black skirt worn over tights, doesn’t need to be washed after every wear (especially if it’s worn mostly indoors!). The only exception is black underwear, tights, bras and socks–which should be washed after every wear.

Separate your delicates. Washing delicate black fabrics like camisoles, silk, cashmere, etc., with normal or heavy loads causes more wear and tear on them that leads to fading. Washing delicates with the normal wash causes more pull on the fabric’s weave, which causes the appearance of discoloration and fading over time. Always wash your delicate darks with cold water to prevent bleeding.

READ MORE: How To Wash Your Jeans So They Last Forever

Turn clothes inside out. Decrease the exposure of the outside/front facing side of the garment by turning it inside out to wash it. This will help preserve the color on the surface (the side that matters most!). Again, the washing machine is the main culprit for why your clothes fade.

READ MORE: How To Get Those White Dots Off Black Clothing That Can’t Be Lint Rolled

Use the shortest wash cycle. Most washing machines have different time settings for laundry loads–8 minutes, 10 minutes, 12 minutes. Use the wash cycle that you know to be the shortest–this, again, minimizes the exposure of your blacks to the harmful wash cycle which causes black clothes to fade more quickly.

Always wash with cold water. The ideal water temperature for washing black clothing and other darks is between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 and 26.7 degrees Celsius).

READ MORE: 5 Ways To Make Black Jeans Appropriate For Any Occasion

Use fabric conditioner. Use fabric conditioner like Downy Fabric Conditioner to keep clothing looking newer for longer by helping to prevent fading.

Use “Darks” detergent. Brands like Woolite make detergent specially formulated for dark and black clothing. The detergent is designed to prevent bleeding and fading. If you have a favorite piece of black clothing, it’s worth purchasing the detergent and using it every time you wash that item (which should be seldom!).

Skip the dryer. You should line dry or lay flat to dry your darks. The heat from the dryer causes black clothing to fade more. If you absolutely have to use the dryer, put it on the lowest possible heat setting and never use dryer sheets as they are also harmful on fabrics.

READ MORE: How To Prevent Crocking–When The Dye From Your Jeans Rubs Off On Everything

So, there you have it–the 7 things you can do to make black clothing stay black. Let us know if you have more laundry or clothing care questions by leaving a comment on this post, and we’ll do our best to answer them.

READ MORE: 5 Ways To Make Black Jeans Appropriate For Any Occasion

[Photo: Song of Style]


Editorial Director

Justine Schwartz is a veteran women's lifestyle editor; she's written extensively about style & beauty tips, health advice and wedding planning for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in New York Magazine, Huffington Post and New York Weddings. Justine has been with SheFinds since 2010; you can reach her via email at [email protected]

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