How to Wash Dark Clothes Without Fading

Line-drying your clothes may not be the most preferable way to keep your darks dark, but it'll work.
Line-drying your clothes may not be the most preferable way to keep your darks dark, but it'll work.

We all have a go-to piece of clothing that we can't live without -- black pants that flatter your figure, a dark T-shirt from a memorable concert or a black hat featuring a team logo that also happens to be a self-proclaimed lucky charm. No matter how strong your superstitions, your most cherished articles of clothing must be washed, and eventually your precious garments are likely to fade. After all, fibers are fragile and don't last forever, but they don't have to lose their color so quickly. With a little know-how and careful consideration, you'll be able to wear your favorite dark-colored clothes until they inevitably go out of style.

First, help preserve your dark clothes by choosing a mild laundry detergent. Regular-formula liquid detergents are known to contain harmful chemical additives that damage fibers, so use a mild detergent to prevent clothes from fading. Optical brighteners -- chemicals added to keep clothing brighter -- can ironically cause colors (including darks) to fade over time. There are several detergents for sale that don't contain these chemicals, such as Woolite or All Free Clear. Be sure to read labels carefully before you buy; if a detergent is listed as biodegradable, it's more likely to be free of optical brighteners and safe to use on dark clothing.

While reading laundry tags will set you back a few minutes before you wash, taking the time to do so will keep your clothes in tip-top shape. Certain fabrics retain darker dyes, like washable nylon and wool blends, but linen and acetate are known to fade much faster. Remember to use color-safe bleach when a label specifies that non-chlorine bleach is needed; otherwise, never use liquid bleach on dark clothes. Above all, if a tag states that a garment is dry-clean only, it's probably best that you don't take any chances and leave the job to the pros.

To keep dark clothes looking vibrant, turn blouses, pants and shirts inside out before you wash to keep them from rubbing together. When clothing is churned inside a crowded washing machine, friction causes garments to lose their hue. Single out dark clothing, and if their tags allow, wash them together in cold water. Always wash on a short, gentle cycle, and resist tossing clothes into the dryer. Instead, hang garments to dry. If you must, use low-heat when drying clothes -- temperatures above 130 degrees Fahrenheit could damage fibers and cause clothing to lose its original color.