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How To Keep Black Clothes From Fading

Posted on October 06 2017

Raymond Truong

Black denim fabric

We’ve all got our favorite go-to piece of black clothing. They’re an easy and versatile choice when you don’t really know what to wear and quite frankly, everyone looks good in black. Whether it be a pair of black jeans or t-shirt, it’s always heartbreaking to see them fade from its original glory. While some fading over time is inevitable, there are some easy ways to prolong the life of those deep dark colors.

What causes fading in clothes?

There are a couple of factors that cause clothes to fade over time and they are a direct result of how we care for our garments.

Washing clothes in hot or warm water

Both hot and warm water is damaging to the color of your clothes. Higher temperature washes contribute to the breakdown of fibers in your clothes causing the colors to fade.

Putting clothes in a hot dryer

The friction combined with the high temperature in the dryer wreaks havoc on the tensile strength of clothing fibers causing them to lose their hue. These microscopic tears accumulate over time and the proof is in the lint. Just take a look at your dryer lint tray the next time you tumble dry something – the colored lint you see is evidence of micro-damage.

How do you prevent black clothes from fading?

Wash only when needed

If the washer and dryer are the main culprits behind fading, then it’s only logical that avoiding putting your clothes in them whenever possible would help color longevity. However, I know that this is kind of unrealistic cause clothes must be washed when they’re dirty.

The tip here is to only wash when you need to. Wearing your black shirt or jeans for a couple hours while you run some errands does not warrant a wash unless you’ve really sweated or spilled on them. Minor stains or spills can be spot treated with some stain remover and let it air dry.

Gentleman, please do your lady (and everyone else) a favor and sniff test before you decide whether or not you can re-wear that shirt.

Turn clothes inside out before you put them in the washer

Friction is one of the factors that lead to fading. Turning your clothes inside out before washing puts the friction on the inside of the garment instead of the outside where everyone can see it.

Use detergent that’s specially formulated for dark clothes

In recent years, I’ve seen the detergent industry come out with detergents created just for dark clothing. To my surprise, these actually work pretty well. These specialized detergents work by utilizing an active ingredient that acts as a color dye magnet which prevents bleeding and color transfer during the wash cycle. I personally use Woolite Darks which helps keep a lot of my dark denims looking fresh.

Wash with cold water on the delicate cycle

I don’t know about you guys, but I used to never care which wash cycle setting I put my clothes through. I later discovered that something as simple as setting the right cycle can help prevent fading. In general, washers are really rough on your clothes. Setting the wash to the delicate cycle uses less agitation to clean which means your clothes will not fade as fast.

For the love of God, don’t nuke it in the dryer.

I’ve said it in our previous blog posts and I’ll say it again. Don’t throw your clothes in the dryer if you want to keep the longevity of its shape and color. Nothing is more harmful than a high heat setting and having the dryer beat the crap out of your nice clothes. Remember: heat + friction = fade. Instead, opt to air dry your clothes on a drying rack. You can get one of those at Target or Amazon for less than $20.

Extra Tip

Many people believe that dry cleaning is a solution to keep your darks looking fresh. That is actually false. Dry cleaners use high heat to handle and press your clothes, so go ahead and save some of that pocket change and treat yo’self.