Dark clothes are a fun part of our wardrobes. But to keep the dark colors we love so much intact, they need 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 in the load. If you wash dark clothes properly, however, they'll stay colorful and last longer.
Here's how to take the best care of your dark loads on laundry day.
Come wash day, take the time to sort your clothes according to color, separating lights (and whites) from darks. Always wash dark clothes separately from their lighter cousins.
Washing lights and darks together is a recipe for color transfer between the clothes. And both are likely to emerge looking worse for wear. This guide to choosing the right laundry temperature can help.
Wash new dark clothes separately or the first time in cold water (60 to 80 degrees F) in the gentle wash cycle to set the color. Cold water will protect most dark or bright-colored clothing from running and minimizes shrinkage.
Warm water washes have the opposite effect: Warm water loosens up the fabric fibers, allowing dyes to be released from the fabric more quickly. Always select "cold" for the rinse cycle. A cold water rinse can reduce the energy per load by up to one-third and minimizes wrinkling in synthetic and permanent-press fabrics.
To lessen the toll that agitation takes on clothing, wash dark clothes inside out in the shortest machine cycle. The less time dark clothes are in the water agitating, the better.
How much laundry detergent should you use? The answer varies by the load.
When reading the product directions, keep in mind that package recommendations should be considered only a starting point for determining proper amounts.
The amount of detergent you use will depend on water hardness (the harder the water, the more detergent needed), the amount of soil (more soil requires more detergent), and the water temperature (colder water requires more detergent).
The hotter the water, the more effective the detergent will be. When using cold water for washing, increase the amount of detergent to one-and-a-half to two times the recommended amount.
Detergent works by loosening dirt and gunk from fabrics. Then it holds the removed dirt in the wash water until it can be rinsed away.
If you use too little detergent, clothes can become dull and dingy, body soils are left on cuffs and collars, and lint isn't held in the water until it is rinsed away; instead, it's redeposited on clothes.
You might also notice greasy-looking stains because, if you regularly use too little detergent, it allows gunk to build up on the outer tub of the washer. These soils then wash off and redeposit on other loads. Ick. Err the other way.
To minimize fading when washing dark clothes, avoid laundry detergents with added boosters such as bleach, which can strip the color from dark clothes.
Avoid frequent tumble-drying and dry-cleaning. Heat may damage fibers, and dry-cleaning may cause discoloration. The tumbling action of the dryer roughs up the surface of the fibers, creating a halo of fuzz that catches the light and makes dark clothes appear faded.
When necessary, tumble dry while the dryer drum is cool and use delicate settings. If possible, hang dark clothes to dry or lay flat to dry on a clean towel in a cool, dark place.