Buying new clothes is always a blast for me. However, one thing I hate more than anything is just how quickly the colors start to fade. All it takes is a few washes and that new red shirt of mine will start turning pink. Sadly, the same happens with any fabric, be it silk, wool, linen, or denim.
Of course, fading is inevitable with age, but there are ways to prevent that favorite pair of trousers from looking like it had just been worn through the desert. In this review, I’ll provide you with a list of amazing laundry detergents that will keep the colors of your clothes looking bright. In addition, you’ll get an amazing guide on how to reduce color fading by using some simple, DIY methods and common sense.
The Best Detergents for Color Fading Reduction
For Bright-Colored and White Outfits
In order to wash white and brightly colored items, you will need a solid product that won’t damage the fabric. Usually (though not always), white products tend not to be as strong as dark-colored ones. However, that doesn’t mean that the right detergent won’t be able to give them back their shine.
Let’s start with Ultra Tide Professional with OXY Power. Tide has long been a name associated with good quality, and this detergent proves it. The new highly-concentrated formula removes more stains than before. But more importantly, you will use a smaller amount of powder than other house name detergents to do so.
Next, we have the all Powercore Pacs with a whitening core. With a combination of liquid and powder, Powercore can restore the faded colors of any light or white shirt. In fact, all you need is a single packet and you’re good to go. Interestingly, it will dissolve in any water temperature, so you don’t have to worry about that lack of hot water during the wash.
My final product for bright clothes is actually not a powder detergent, but rather a laundry bar soap. Zote comes in sets of four large bars of soap, perfect for people who would like to save money on cleaning products. It’s an eco-friendly option that will bring new life to your bright outfits, plus it’s inexpensive and long-lasting. Moreover, it removes even some of the nastiest stains.
For Black and Dark Clothes
As someone who owns a lot of dark suits and trousers, I have to say that “faded” doesn’t go well with “black.” In fact, I wouldn’t even leave the house in a pair of faded black pants. So, the minute I heard that there were detergents out there that could help me with this problem, I started doing my research. In the end, it resulted in three amazing products that I can’t recommend enough.
The first of the three is Oxiclean Dark Protect. Using the patented Anti-Fade technology, Dark Protect will breathe new life into dark fabrics. More importantly, it keeps the fabric looking and feeling smooth. No stain will remain unremoved; the only thing that will linger is the amazing scent emanating from the laundry after the wash.
Now, when you take a look at my next product, Puracy Natural Liquid, you don’t get the impression that it’s a detergent for dark clothes. Of course, looks can trick you, as Puracy is not only a spectacular solution for your black attire, but it works just on all other colors as well. In fact, it’s even amazing enough to cover some sensitive fabrics like silk.
Finally, Woolite Darks liquid laundry detergent is the third product I found to be the best for dark-colored items. Thanks to its formula, this detergent works well with clothing made out of different fabrics. It will not only strengthen them and brighten up any signs of fading, but it’ll also leave your clothes soft and pleasant to the touch. The product works well for all temperatures and wash cycles, and unlike other commercial options out there, it won’t leave any residue on your clothes.
For Colored Clothes
The products I’m about to list have worked well with both bright and dark clothing. However, I still felt like they deserved to get the spotlight when it comes to covering colored items that fall somewhere in the middle.
It’s hard to argue that The Laundress Darks Detergent isn’t a classic. From the packaging to the simple design, it feels like a product from a bygone era. Usually, I don’t talk about how a detergent looks, but it’s always nice to have that little bonus when shopping for the right stuff.
But how does the Laundress Dark Detergent preserve vivid colors? To put it simply, it pulls it off without a hitch. I’ve used this detergent for at least a year and it hasn’t failed me so far. Not only does its formula help “revive” old, faded clothes, but it’s also environmentally safe with all-natural ingredients. Moreover, you can use this product with a different detergent in order to get an even better result.
The second and final product in this category is, once again, a Tide; more specifically, it’s the Brights and Whites Rescue Laundry Pacs. Judging from the name, you can tell which clothes this product is best suited for. But it goes far beyond cleaning stains off of white shirts and light underwear. In fact, it’s just as good, if not better, at reviving fading hues of regular-colored clothing.
Machine-washing delicate items is a bit different to handling regular clothes. If I want them to shine and stay strong after a wash, I need the proper detergent that won’t wear them out after a few tumbles in the machine. Luckily, there is a product out there that’s great at both keeping the delicates in one piece and making them look good as new — the Rockin’ Green natural powder.
Rockin’ Green is a HE (high-efficiency) washing machine powder that used to be known as Motley Clean. We can use this detergent at any water temperature, from cool to boiling hot, and it will be just as effective. In addition, it contains a healthy, biodegradable formula that makes it perfect for washing underwear, lingerie, and the like. You don’t have to fear any rashes or allergies when using Rockin’ Green.
Of course, Rockin’ Green isn’t alone when it comes to dealing with faded delicate clothes. A few people have suggested that I try Ovacion, a product I had honestly never heard of before. After a few washes, I could definitely see why it appeared on several top 10 lists of best detergents of 2020.
Ovacion is, admittedly, better at dealing with dark laundry than anything else. While it will definitely get the stains out of white and colored underwear, you will most likely use it for black and dark items the most. Thanks to its solvent-free, biodegradable formula, Ovacion will leave the delicates feeling smooth, fresh, and bright. The pleasant scent is but the icing on the cake.
Methods for Preventing Clothes from Fading
The detergents I have listed all do a great job keeping the colors of my clothes vibrant. However, sometimes we don’t need to change detergents just to get that sheen back. There are quite a few methods out there that will not only prevent fading, but will also make our clothes last longer and feel better to the touch.
Separating Laundry by Color
A well-known cliche in comedy films is when a wife washes the husband’s white shirts with a single red sock. Needless to say, everyone knows what happens next — the shirts all turn pink, the sock turns dim-red, and everyone at work mocks the husband because of his new fashion choice.
Of course, the reason this is such a popular cliche is that dark clothes and bright clothes just don’t mix. That’s why it’s a good idea to separate your laundry before doing the wash. A good rule of thumb is this:
- Whites on one pile
- Blacks on another
- Bright colors on the third
- Dark colors on the fourth
Broadly speaking, you can wash dark clothing items altogether, even with jet-black clothes. In the case of pure whites, I would personally separate them into their own, third pile just to be safe. More often than not, you can wash them with light-colored items, but I still recommend caution.
Reading the Label
There’s a reason why clothes have labels that can sometimes get annoyingly big. As a kid, I used to hate wearing this huge linen shirt that my grandmother got me simply because the label on the back was too sharp. It would always irritate the back of my neck and feel unnatural even if I tucked it in.
However, these labels contain some basic information about washing and drying an item. Some clothes don’t go in hot water, others will shrink or shrivel in cold water, etc. And if we don’t follow those instructions written on the labels, we risk getting faded clothing. Worse yet, we risk actual damage to the fabric.
For that reason, I suggest always checking the label. In fact, the best time to do it is while sorting laundry for the next wash. That way, you’ll know to separate different items, even if they’re of the same color.
Stuffing the Washer is Bad
It might sound like a good idea to put as many clothes as possible into the washer. However, the machine has to compensate for the load. It has to work twice as hard, which can cause rips and tears in your clothes.
Similarly, the rinse water, the detergent, and the softener won’t get equally distributed during the cycles. That way, you risk clots of detergent stuck in pockets, creases, and folds.
Finally, clothes that come out of the stuffed washer will dry more slowly than usual. Leaving space inside of the washer allows the clothes to “breathe” and water gets evenly distributed all over. As a result, they dry quickly in either direct sunlight or a strong gust of wind.
Turning the Clothes Inside-Out
There are several reasons why you should turn your clothes inside-out during a wash. Most of the time, the outside of your clothing items is exposed to the water inside of the washer. Constant washing will definitely take its toll on the fabric. So, instead of letting it wear out the side that everyone can see, just flip it inside-out and the inner layer will take all the “damage”.
I should note that you also need to do this when you hang your clothes to dry. Sunlight can be pretty strong and fading is almost inevitable. But if the inside of your clothes is the one that fades from sun exposure instead, you have nothing to worry about.
Two things are instantly clear with vinegar:
- Like baking soda, it’s used as a “cure-for-all” in many DIY procedures
- It has a distinctive, unpleasant smell
Most people would balk at the idea of putting vinegar in the washing machine. However, despite its smell, vinegar actually has some great fabric softening abilities. More importantly, it’s cheaper than most fabric softeners out there.
Naturally, I don’t suggest that you use too much of the stuff. A single cup of vinegar is enough for a single wash. Plus, the scent will be gone the second the cycle is over, so you can spare yourself any embarrassment (and any lingering odors).
Using Dryers and Sunlight
Both the dryers and direct sunlight have their benefits. For example, a typical dryer will have your clothes ready in a matter of minutes. More importantly, they’ll come out soft and smooth, incredibly pleasant to the touch.
Sunlight, on the other hand, is great at causing the trapped water to evaporate from your clothes. But it’s also a great disinfectant, killing off any lingering microorganism that remained there before you did the wash.
This might sound strange, but I would avoid these two methods of drying clothes if you want to prevent fading. Sunlight can do lasting damage to the fabric while a dryer uses the same spin cycles that a washing machine does, which makes it rough for the clothes in the long run. If you can, try drying your clothes inside, on a drying rack. Alternatively, if the sunlight is too strong, hang the clothes somewhere in the shade.
If and when possible, try to hand-wash your laundry. While it might be more difficult than using the machine, it definitely comes with certain benefits.
First off, hand washing allows you to focus on specific stains and rub them out properly. Even the best washing machines can only work on a stubborn stain for the duration of a single cycle. And with some stains, that’s just not enough.
Next, washing by hand will save you water and money. An average washing machine uses roughly 50l of water for a single batch of laundry. Hand washing, however, uses 20l at most. More importantly, when you wash by hand, you save yourself hundreds of dollars in electric bills.
Finally, washing by hand keeps your clothes strong and durable. A machine, on the other hand, might cause tears, rips, and excessive friction.
Doing the laundry in 2020 has never been easier. With so many wonderful products out there, I can rest assured that I don’t have to worry about faded clothing any time soon. However, it never hurts to try an old-fashioned method like the ones listed above. Alternatively, you can combine the two and give your fading clothes back the illustrious colors they used to have.