Dark purple and green clothes spinning in a washer

How to keep black & dark-colored clothes from fading

Learning how to wash dark and black clothes will help them stay vibrant, while also protecting lighter clothes from color transfer. If you want to keep your wardrobe looking fresh, it’s important to know how to prevent the fading of black and dark-colored clothes. The simple steps in this guide can go a long way towards preserving your clothes so they look their best.

Woman loading clothes into a front load washer

What causes clothes to fade?

Clothes tend to fade in the laundry cycle due to hot water washes, harsh detergents, agitation during washing and overdrying. The dye itself can also cause bleeding and fading if it is not well-set or if the wrong type of dye was used on a certain fabric. Friction between articles of clothing can also cause fabric fibers to break, resulting in a faded appearance.

These factors affect the dye in your clothing, but they can be minimized by washing clothes with cold water on a delicate cycle, as well as air drying garments to avoid overdrying.

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How do you keep black clothes black?

To keep your black clothes and black jeans dark, wash your garments inside out in cold water on a delicate cycle. Be sure to use a low heat setting in the dryer or air dry to prevent fading.

Remember to always check the care tag on your clothing for proper washing and care instructions.

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How to prevent clothes from fading

Follow this simple 8-step guide for best practices to keep your dark-colored clothes from fading in the wash.

What you’ll need:


  • Laundry detergent

  • Fabric softener


  • Washing machine

  • Dryer

Clothing care label on a blue shirt

Step 1: Read clothing labels for washing and drying instructions

Before washing your clothes, always check your garment’s care tag for proper washing and drying instructions, including any dry cleaning requirements. The care tag symbols and recommendations for washing and drying can help prevent fading to keep your clothes looking vivid and new, as well as prevent deterioration.

The care tag will let you know if you need a normal or delicate cycle. Delicate cycles are shorter and gentler, making them a good option for washing dark or black clothes.

Person taking clothes out of a hamper

Step 2: Wash black clothes and dark-colored clothes separately

Sorting your dark-colored clothing before washing helps prevent dye transfers and color absorption with lighter colors. Additionally, separating your laundry by fabric type and weight can also prevent unwanted lint and pilling to your dark fabrics, which may cause a faded, aged appearance.

In fact, if heavy duty fabrics like denim rub against more delicate fabrics in the wash cycle, it can exacerbate wear and tear on the more delicate item, leading to a distressed look.

Clothes soaking in soapy water inside of a washer

Step 3: Turn clothes inside out before washing

To wash your clothes without fading, be sure to turn the garments inside out before placing them into the washing machine. This allows the inside of the clothing to take the brunt of the agitation and fading from the washing cycle, while still ensuring a thorough, clean wash.

Be mindful to avoid overloading the washing machine to allow clothing to move around freely inside the drum.

Person selecting cycle settings on a dryer

Step 4: Use cold water and a delicate cycle to wash dark clothes

After you have separated your dark-colored clothing and turned the garments inside out, activate a short, delicate washing cycle in cold water. The shorter cycle and cold water temperature minimize the agitation to your clothing and help prevent the dyes from bleeding.

For more laundering tips, learn how to wash dark and light-colored clothing with this handy guide.

Swash® Laundry Detergent being added to washer

Step 5: Choose the right laundry detergent to preserve dark colors

A liquid detergent tailored for dark clothing is the best method to prevent fading. However, if you only have regular detergent on hand, using a small amount is recommended in the washing cycle, preferably liquid over powder to avoid unwanted residue on your clothes.

Make sure to add the detergent to the drum prior to inserting your clothing. Adding detergent directly on top of clothing may cause unwanted spots or stains.

For additional care with an optimized cleanse, check out Swash® Laundry Detergent from Whirlpool Corporation for your family’s needs.1


Small amount of detergent being added to washer

Step 6: Avoid using too much detergent

If your washing machine does not include an automatic dispenser, it is recommended to use a small amount of concentrated detergent. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the right amount of detergent for your load size.

For added convenience, features like the Load & Go™ Dispenser in select Whirlpool® Washing Machines take the guesswork out of how much detergent to add and handle the process for you.

Front load washer opened with colorful clothes inside

Step 7: Use fabric softener to prevent fading

Adding fabric softener to your washing process can prevent dark clothes from fading by reducing friction in the wash. This step also leaves your clothes feeling brand new with a fresh scent and soft touch.

Dryer knob being changed to low heat

Step 8: Dry clothes on a low heat setting or air dry

Drying clothes on a low heat setting or air drying can prevent damage and keep clothes from fading. To avoid exposure to sunlight, opt for an indoor drying rack instead of an outdoor clothesline.

Additionally, utilizing the tumble dry setting without heat on your dryer can also provide an efficient, convenient alternative to air drying.

Explore Whirlpool® Washers and Dryers

Are you looking for an efficient washer and dryer to add convenience to your family’s laundry needs? Discover how Whirlpool® Washers and Dryers help streamline your routine and keep laundry day under control.

Shop top picks below:

Shop Whirlpool® Washing Machines

Shop Whirlpool® Dryers

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1. Swash and the recommended brands are owned and distributed by Whirlpool Corporation.