Tips on washing black clothes

Written by shelley moore
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Several techniques can keep your black clothing looking great for a long time and most of these guidelines are perfect for making any outfits last longer. Using the right kind of soap, the appropriate temperature and avoiding heat and sunlight in the drying process all contribute to a super-looking black outfit that holds its colour.


Use cold water unless the tag specifies warm. Some manufacturers, such as Lands' End, design their fabric to hold colour better in warm water. Always check the tag for care guidelines, but typically dark clothes should be washed in cold water.


The first wash should be in vinegar water without soap. This will help lock in the dye. Use 1/4 cup of vinegar for a small load and 1/2 cup for a large load to work wonders in making the colour last.


To be extra careful, wash black clothing in a colour-fast-friendly detergent such as Woolite Dark Laundry or Cheer Dark. Other brands are available as well. Regular Woolite soap is good, too. Although specified for wool and delicate fabrics, it is very mild and less likely to make dark colours fade. Liquid detergents are better all-around when it comes to dark clothes, because powder sometimes leaves a residue. Use the least amount of detergent possible to get the clothing clean. Soap manufacturers are notorious for recommending overuse of their product. You can usually get by with about half of what the cup instructs you to use, particularly if you are doing laundry in soft water.


Turn the garment inside out to wash, to protect the fibres on the outside from any slight damage caused by agitation. Also, any lint that sticks to the clothing will then be on the inside. Use a gentle setting. Every time an outfit is washed, a very slight amount of fabric damage occurs, accounting for the fading and fraying that you see over time. The more agitated the washing, the more significant this is.


Line-dry your outfit, but not in the sun. Heat and sunlight both cause fading and can weaken fabric. If you must use a clothes dryer, make sure it is set to very low heat. Also, don't iron black clothes unless you must. Again, the heat causes damage to the fabric each time the iron is used and an iron is excessively hot.

Expert Insight

Know your fabrics. Wool is darker than cotton right from the get-go, and will maintain that colour better over time. Cotton with a little synthetic added fibre, such as Lycra, will also hold colour better than 100 per cent cotton.

Time Frame

If the outfit does eventually fade, you can use black dye to make it black again. The dye typically can be used right in the washer, and you'll just need to follow the instructions. You also can use the dye on occasion to maintain colour, about every 10 washes.

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