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how to wash dark clothes

Dark clothes are a fun part of our wardrobes.

But to keep the dark colors we love so much intact requires a bit of special care and the separate treatment on laundry day.

That's because dark clothes are prone to fading during the wash cycle, which is bad for them, and worse for other non-dark garments that happen to be in the load.

If you wash dark clothes properly, however, they'll both stay colorful, and last longer. 

Here's how to wash dark clothes safely, keeping their bold colors intact in the process.

Wash Dark Clothes Separately

Come wash day, take the time to sort your clothes  according to color, separating lights (and whites) from darks, and then launder each load separately.

Laundering lights and darks together is a recipe for color transfer between clothes - and both lights and darks are likely to emerge looking worse for wear.

Also, take the time to read the fabric care labels on all your clothes, especially dark clothes.

Your clothes will last longer (regardless of color) if you launder them in the water temperature recommended.

Wash New Dark Items Inside Out

For the first washing, turn dark clothes inside out, and plan to machine wash cold (60 to 80 degrees F) in the gentle wash cycle (this step is to set the dark dyes, regardless of the clothing label instructions on water temperature.).

This is the key to preventing them from fading.

You'll follow those label instructions the next time, when your goal is to get the clothes clean. 

Using the washing machine's cold wash cycle the first time you wash a garment, will help slow the dye transfer process. 

Always select "cold" for the washing machine's 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 and helps prevent dark clothes from fading.

Wash in the Shortest Washing Machine Cycle Possible

Dark clothes should be laundered in the shortest machine cycle possible. The less time dark clothes are in the washer - and in the water - the better. This will help minimize color fading.

Minimize Abrasion During the Wash Cycle

To keep abrasion, snags, and lint to a minimum, zip zippers, button buttons, brush away lint, empty pockets before putting clothes into the washing machine. Also, only wash items of similar weight together - that is, don't wash a cashmere sweater and jeans in the same load because they're the same color.

Choose a Laundry Detergent That Won't Fade Clothes

Choose a laundry detergent specially formulated for dark clothes, or stick to a basic, additive-free detergent when washing dark clothes.

To minimize fading, avoid laundry detergents with added boosters such as bleach, which can strip the color from dark clothes.

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

Extra detergent is necessary because laundry detergent is designed to be fully activated at warmer temperatures. When washing in cold water, you'll want to increase the amount of detergent to one-and-a-half to two times the recommended amount. 

Skip the Dryer If Possible; Line Dry Instead

Avoid putting dark clothes in the dryer, as heat can cause dark clothing to fade faster, and the heat will also set any missed stains.

Instead, hang your dark clothes to dry away from direct sunlight, which can quickly fade colors. Or invest in a space-saving clothes drying rack.

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› How to Wash Dark Clothes