14 Tips For Preventing Black Fashion Pieces From Fading

Even if you love wearing colorful, pastel, or earth-toned clothing, there's a high likelihood that you at least have some black items in your closet or dresser. Black is a popular color in fashion for many reasons; it goes with everything, often carries an air of sleek sophistication, and has a slimming effect on the wearer (why do you think we love our little black dresses so much?). 


When it comes to color psychology, black can make the wearer feel powerful. It's also known as a protective color that can offer a sense of balance when you're having an anxiety-filled day. No matter the reason you wear black, and whether or not it's the most common color in your wardrobe, caring for black clothing isn't always easy. Like bright-colored garments, black clothing can fade over time. By following some simple care principles, you can keep the black pieces in your wardrobe blacker for longer.

Why your black clothing is bound to fade

All colored clothing will fade over time with enough wear and washing. However, you are more likely to notice color changes in darker clothing. Fabrics are not designed to last forever, and friction from wearing and washing will break them down even faster. Additionally, some materials fade faster than others. If you want a fabric that is less likely to fade, choose synthetics. Natural fabrics are more porous, which makes dye fade faster.


Where you wear and store your clothing can also affect how fast it fades — it's not just how you wash or dry it. Avoid placing your black clothing in direct sunlight, as UV rays will speed up the fading process. The heat from the sun also can contribute to this. If your closet or dresser is near a heat source, consider relocating your clothing to a cooler area.

Be sure to separate those loads

if you're the type of person who just tosses clothing in the washing machine without a care in the world, now is the time to stop. Not only should you sort your clothing by color, but also by fabric type. First, when it comes to colors, only wash black clothing with other black clothing. Why? Other colored clothing can cause future fading of your black clothing, and your black clothes could also leave whites and other lighter-colored garments looking dingy.


Second, for fabrics, there are a few reasons to separate them. Wash heavy fabrics, like jeans, separately from fabrics that are likely to pill, like sweatshirts. Heavy fabrics damage your lighter ones. Wash delicates with other delicates, and consider using mesh bags for extra protection. Wash clothing with zippers and buttons in mesh washing bags as well, as this will help protect all of your other clothing from unwanted rips and tears.

Always wash in cold water

We often believe that hot water is necessary to clean clothing effectively, but in fact, cold water is just as capable of removing dirt. For bright colors and black clothing, it is best to stick with cold water washing to stop stains from setting in, reduce shrinkage, and prevent fabrics from fading. "Testing shows that warm water or hot water helps accelerate fading in darker colors," GE Appliances director of engineering in washer systems Stephen Hettinger told Better Homes & Gardens.


Whether your machine requires you to select a specific temperature or you can just pick cold water on the dial, always opt for cold water when washing your black clothing, regardless of fabric type. According to Wash, a water temperature of around 80 degrees is recommended, as some detergents do not work well in colder water. However, you can go with a cooler temperature when using a detergent specifically designed for cold water washing or handwashing.

Use the right detergent

Not all laundry detergents are created equally, especially when it comes to black clothing. It's important to invest in a gentle detergent that won't be harsh on your garments and strip away color faster than it should. While saving money may be tempting, laundry and dry cleaning service Sienna Cleaners warned that lower-priced detergents often contain unnecessary chemicals that can ruin the color of your clothing. If you've ever used powdered detergent and noticed a white residue on your garments, it's because the wash load wasn't hot enough or long enough to dissolve the detergent fully. For dark clothes, it's best to stick with the liquid variety.


Fortunately, there are detergents made specifically for dark clothing that helps keep them from fading as fast. If you don't have any luck finding them locally, you can also opt to use any detergent listed as gentle or for hand washing clothes, as these won't have harsh chemicals. Be sure not to use too much detergent either — follow the instructions on the detergent bottle for best results.

You're probably washing your clothes too much

If you wash your black garments after every wear, you are washing them far too often. The more frequently you wash them, the quicker they're going to fade. "If you're wearing something for a few hours, and not sweating, it's probably okay to wait 2 to 4 wears before washing. Or, after a full day's use," dermatologist Dr. Annie Gonzalez told Brightly. "If you're working from home, it's probably okay to wait after 3 to 4 wears before washing your clothes."


According to Whirlpool, jeans only need to be washed after around five wears. Undergarments should be washed after every use (with the exception of non-workout bras, which can go a few wears before washing). If your clothes have absorbed smells from cooking or a campfire, you can spray them with a scented fabric spray to make them smell fresh and clean again.

Spot clean more often

Spot-cleaning your clothing instead of washing the whole garment can help colors last longer, reduce water usage, and extend the life of your clothing. Washing not only fades colors but breaks down fabrics over time. "Washing your clothes less will also help them last longer, because every time you wash them, particularly at high temperatures, it damages the fibers," smol chemist Kathleen Bell explained to inews.co.uk. "And it is better for the environment, as fewer washes mean less energy and water is being used."


If you dribble a little sauce on your shirt, take it to the sink right away and give it a quick cleaning. By treating spills immediately you can avoid the need to wash the item in your next load because you've already removed any potential stains. For light spills, use stain bars for quick spot cleaning. You can also use a gentle detergent made for handwashing clothes to help deal with spills. Then hand dry the garment until it's ready to head back to the closet for at least one more wear before washing.

Gentle is the key

Using a gentler setting on your washing machine for your black clothing can help it stay dark and fashionable for longer. This is partially due to agitation. On the delicate setting, there's less agitation, which means that your clothing is getting tossed around less in the machine than it would on a setting that offers a tougher clean, such as one used for extra dirty work clothes or towels.


It's also partially about the length of the wash setting. The shorter the time your black clothing spends sitting in water, the better. The delicate wash setting is usually one of the shortest, so it is an excellent choice when you want to help keep your clothing from fading. Avoid the permanent press option unless you only have cold water hooked up to your machine since the warm water from this setting can contribute to fading.

Solutions for tough stains

If you have tough stains on your black clothing, pre-treat them before washing to reduce the need for multiple washes to get the spots out. Grease stains and deodorant marks are common culprits that can make black garments look unsightly. Instead of throwing them away, try to get the stains out first. If your item is labeled as dry clean only, be sure to point out stains to your dry cleaner.


To remove stains from black clothing, soak them in cold water with a stain remover that is safe for that shade of fabric. Do not use any product containing bleach, as this can cause orange spots on your dark garments. You can also use an enzyme treatment that will help lift various types of stains and prevent fading of your black clothes. Always soak your clothes in a clean receptacle, such as a bucket or the bathroom sink. Scrub the receptacle beforehand to avoid adding stains from something that was previously inside.

Clothing labels can help

If you're unsure about how to care for a piece of black clothing, check the care instructions on the label. The care label provides important information, such as whether the item should be dry cleaned, hung to dry, or washed by hand. These instructions are intended to guide you in the best washing and drying practices for that particular garment and its fabric.


Unfortunately, care labels sometimes use only symbols, making them difficult to understand. Cleaning company The Maids has an excellent guide to decoding these symbols. Numbers often indicate what temperature to use when washing the item, while an "x" over a symbol means you should not do that particular thing with the garment. Even if you know how to properly wash your dark clothes, you still don't want to wash them after every wear as this can cause them to fade more quickly.

Turn your clothing inside out

There are many benefits to turning your clothing inside out before washing it. One important benefit is that it helps prevent fading by protecting the visible part of your garment. It can also lead to fresher-smelling garments, as the washing machine can more easily cleanse the areas that usually rest against the skin and collect more sweat. This is especially important for items like leggings and socks.


For clothing items that tend to pill, turning them inside out can prevent the problem from getting worse. It can also keep the exterior of your garment in better shape in general by reducing the friction it experiences during a cycle. Additionally, if your black clothing has embroidery or printing on it, turning it inside out can protect those designs. This same step should also be taken when drying your clothes in the dryer for the best overall results.

Think about investing in a fabric softener

Have you been skipping the fabric softener? If you're a fan of black clothing, we highly recommend you invest in some liquid fabric softener to care for your darker garments. What does fabric softener do, aside from making your clothing feel soft? It cuts down on the friction between garments, which helps avoid those nasty issues like pilling and fading.


If you don't have fabric softener on hand, white vinegar can be used as a substitute (and is much more affordable). White vinegar has all sorts of helpful uses around the house, so it's smart to have some stashed away under the kitchen sink. To use it in place of fabric softener, add it when it's time to add the fabric softener to the softener port. A half cup is just the right amount for a normal wash load. As a static buster, white vinegar can also assist in keeping your clothes free of lint and pet hair — a real boon for dark clothing that shows every little speck of debris.

Consider hang drying

The best way to dry black clothing is by hang drying. If you hang your garments indoors, they may take a little longer to dry, but they are safe from the elements, especially the sun. If you choose to hang your clothes outside (because, let's face it, clothing dried outside smells like fresh air and happiness, and it dries faster), be sure to keep them turned inside out and remove them as soon as they are dry to avoid fading. Consider placing your clothesline in an area that gets a natural breeze but less direct sunlight.


"The life-span extension that you get with [air drying] is pretty incredible," Cosette Joyner Martinez, an Oklahoma State University associate professor, told The Washington Post. If you don't have space in your laundry room for a clothing rack, a great alternative is to hang your clothes on your shower rod, as long as nobody will be taking a shower in the next few hours.

Or dry on the lowest setting

Heat is bad for your black clothing, as it fades the garments faster by breaking down the dyes used to color them. You should never dry any of your bright-colored clothes or darks on high heat. Even medium heat may be sketchy. Even if you need to dry it quickly, it's essential to think twice about it and consider how many times you are hoping to wear that little black dress while it's still a crisp black!


If you absolutely don't have time to wait for a piece of clothing to air dry, dry it on the lowest possible dryer setting. It may take longer for your clothing to dry, and you may need to run it through the dryer two or three times, but that's still better than the possible damage that could occur from higher settings. The best option to extend the life of your black clothes is to hang dry them.

Don't iron them

Heat can cause damage to your black clothing, so it's best to avoid ironing, even if your black garment is the most wrinkly thing you've ever seen. That heat is going to increase the fading of your clothing. Plus, ironing seems to take forever, doesn't it?


Instead of grabbing the iron, you can toss your clothing in the dryer on the air-only setting that is meant to help remove wrinkles without heat. Or, you can use a steamer to gently add warm steam that will help get rid of those wrinkles without damaging your clothing. Using a steamer also takes less time than ironing. Plus, you don't have to try to find room for using or storing a clunky ironing board. Instead, you can just hang your clothes in the bathroom on the shower curtain rod to get rid of the wrinkles.

Wash your new black clothing with salt

New clothing has a tendency to bleed — even after a couple of times through the washing machine. Not only do bleeding dyes have the potential to ruin other garments (if you're not properly sorting your laundry), but they can also lead to quicker fading of the clothing that is bleeding. One way that you can help prevent bleeding is to add salt to your wash load. Just dump about four ounces of regular table salt into your washing machine — directly into where you put your clothes — and wash the load as normal.


There are also color-catching sheets that do practically the same thing, but also absorb any colors that do bleed. You toss them after one use. However, if you're looking to be more environmentally friendly and trying to keep stuff out of landfills, we say stick with the salt (plus it's the much cheaper option).

Recoloring can fix what's already faded

If your clothing has already started fading, you don't have to accept this loss. Instead, you can dye your stuff black again. It may not turn out the exact shade of black it once was, but you can at least make it look like it's not a faded black garment — you can give it a fresh new look (and it even may feel new to you with a different shade). It's as easy as purchasing black dye for clothing and following the instructions on the bottle.


Not sure about using dye? Perhaps you're not a fan of harmful chemicals or you're worried about it damaging your washing machine and other clothing. There is at least one alternative option — Try some espresso! All you do is dump a couple of cups of espresso into the wash. Just know that if you do this with anything but black, it will not necessarily be a happy surprise, as the brown color of the coffee will stain other stuff too (whites will look dingy or brown).