It's important to handle clothing carefully when washing and drying -- taking a few extra precautions before you begin the chore can help keep your wardrobe looking as good as new. First, check the temperature of the water before you toss the entirety of your hamper into the wash. Warm water breaks fibers down quickly, causing colors to fade, so select the coldest temperature available on your dial. You should also choose liquid detergent over powder. Liquid detergents dissolve better in cold water, while powdered detergents aren't guaranteed to saturate the water completely and thoroughly clean your clothes.
Be aware that in some areas, tap water contains high levels of chemicals that could also cause dark garments to fade. Hard water -- water rich in magnesium and calcium -- can actually lessen the effects of detergents and leave clothes dingy and dirty. While hard water can certainly damage clothing over time, there are ways you can take action to counteract these chemicals. Add a water softener when washing clothes with powder detergent, or use a safe liquid laundry detergent to help remedy the problem. For example, Tide Coldwater is specifically designed to clean clothes effectively on a cold water cycle, helping to neutralize chlorine found in tap water.
When dark clothing needs to be dried, avoid steam and high temperatures -- starching or tumbling clothes in a hot dryer will cause them to lose their hue and fade over time. Dry cleaners use high heat when handling your clothes as well, so while they may be convenient, skip a trip to these outfits unless it's absolutely necessary. If you can, hang or lay garments flat to dry, and if you use an outdoor clothes line, be mindful to keep clothing out of direct sunlight.