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how to wash dark clothes

How to wash dark clothes?

There's one laundry rule you should never break: Always wash dark clothes separately, and in cold water. 

Washing dark clothes in warm or hot water can quickly cause the dark color to fade. (Not to mention the risk of shrinkage.)

And before you know it, those black and dark blues will fade and look washed out and old before their time.

Your laundry efforts will pay off in the long run with dark clothes that stay dark and will last longer in your wardrobe lineup. 

1. wash dark clothes separate from whites and light colors.

Dark clothes should always get the separate treatment in cold water (60 to 80 degrees F) to preserve the bold original colors and to prevent bleeding onto your lighter clothes.

Turn your dark clothes inside out to further reduce fading. Always select "cold" for the rinse-water temperature - and this goes for all your clothes, regardless of color. A cold rinse cycle saves energy and is just as effective as warm or hot water.

Sort lint givers, like towels, from lint takers, like corduroy. And be sure to separate delicates from heavy clothes such as jeans.

Don't wash heavily soiled clothes - such as gardening duds - with your fine lingerie, either.

Try to combine items of similar weight in the wash to minimize abrasion. Otherwise, those delicates are likely to emerge with snags or tears in the fabric.

To keep snags and lint to a minimum, button buttons, brush away lint, and empty pocks before tossing clothes (dark or otherwise) into the hamper.

2. wash dark clothes in the shortest cycle that will get them clean.

Washing dark clothes in the shortest cycle appropriate for the soil level and the fabric is the best way to minimize color fading. Regular cycle is fine for most clothes; but if you've just worn a pair of dark pants a time or two and they are without stains, you can choose a light wash to get them clean.

The less time dark clothes are soaking in soapy water, the better chance they have for staying that way.

3. use a laundry detergent without additives, such as bleach.

Stick to a basic laundry detergent when washing dark clothes.

Specifically, avoid laundry detergent that has added boosters such as color-safe bleach, bleach, or a fabric softener included.

These will quickly strip the color of your dark clothes, causing them to fade prematurely.

If dark clothes are heavily soiled, or if you're washing a large load of darks, add extra laundry detergent to ensure the load gets clean the first time.

4. check washed clothes for lingering stains before placing into the dryer.

After washing dark clothes, check for remaining stains and re-wash if needed. If you dry stained dark clothes in the dryer, the heat will set the stains.

5. don't overdry dark clothes.

Set the dryer heat and time for the most delicate dark garment in the load. 

Don't use a high or regular setting out of habit. The longer your dark clothes are hit by heat, the more chance of fading.

Fibers that don't absorb lots of water, such as microfibers, nylon, and acrylic, dry faster and need a lower temperature setting than other fabrics do.

Keep that in mind when choosing dryer time.

Drying a load for too long can not only cause fading, it can also cause shrinkage and buildup of static electricity. Leave clothes in the dryer just long enough to remove wrinkles and moisture.

Check out the Clean Organized Home Store for laundry products specially made for dark clothes, and other laundry supplies to help ensure all your clothes stay clean and bright - safely.

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About the Author

Tara Aronson

Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.