Just about every laundry detergent in the world claims to whiten whites and brighten brights, so why do our most colorful clothes seem to come out of the wash looking less vibrant than before they went in?
Preserving the original color can also help you save money by extending the life of your clothing since the best techniques for brightening colors tend to be gentler on fabrics than the old tried-and-true method of jamming as much as you can into the washer and hit “start.” (It’s OK, we’ve all done it!)
Ready to wow your friends and family with your newfound knowledge of how to brighten colors while washing your clothes? Read on!
Tips for Brightening the Colors of Your Clothes
Colors fade when the chemical bonds between the dye and the fabric break down, so the best way to keep your colors bright is to wash clothes in a way that either prevents dyes from dissolving, protects the fibers in the fabric — or both. Follow these tips, and your colors will look as good as new!
1Turn clothes inside out
According to experts, the tumbling action of the wash cycle and the dryer can cause fabric fibers to break as clothes collide with each other and against the walls of the machine. While you can’t prevent the damage entirely, turning clothes inside out before you wash them will keep the worst of the fraying on the inside, where it’s out of sight. If you dry your clothes on a clothesline, hang them inside away from direct sunlight to help prevent fading.
2Soak clothes in salt water
Salt is inexpensive, environmentally friendly and great for keeping your colors bright. Before you wash that colorful new top, soak it overnight in salt water. Simply fill your washer with cold water, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of salt, and then add your clothes. In the morning, just add detergent and run the washer as you normally would. You can add additional clothes at this point, too — just be sure not to overfill the washer.
3Wash only when necessary
The simplest way to prevent colors from fading in the wash is to wash your clothes less frequently. If you’re careful, you can get several wears out of clothes you wear to work in an office or for a few hours to a dressy event. Promptly blot and spot-treat any liquid spills, and use a dry sponge or a fabric softener sheet to remove white deodorant streaks or powder makeup.
4Wash in cold water
Washing in cold water instead of hot not only helps keep your colors bright, it also conserves energy and saves you money. For best results, use a detergent formulated for bright clothes and cold-water washing.
What kitchen staple helps you lock in the color on your brightest bathing suit? For the answer, CLICK the right arrow for more great tips on the next page.
More Great Tips for Brightening Clothes
1Break out the vinegar
If you guessed white vinegar, you’re right! Some swimsuit manufacturers recommend soaking new suits in a mixture of white vinegar and cold water to prevent fading and bleeding. Use 1 tablespoon of white vinegar for every 1 quart of water, and soak for at least 30 minutes before wearing your new suit. To keep your dark jeans dark, soak in a 50:50 solution of vinegar and water before the first washing.
The heat from the dryer is harsh on dyes and clothing fibers, so be sure to take clothes out as soon as they’re dry. Try to wash and dry similar fabric types together, or remove quick-drying items before the cycle ends. If your dryer has a moisture sensor setting, use it!
3Coffee or tea?
Add 2 cups of brewed coffee or strong tea to the rinse cycle to restore the color to black or very dark clothes. Skip the cream and sugar!
4Go blue for bright whites
To brighten whites in the wash, add a bluing agent. Bluing agents don’t remove stains; instead, they make whites appear brighter by adding microscopic blue particles to the fabric during the wash or rinse cycle.