Colorful Laundry

It’s an inevitable cycle. After constant wearing and never-ending rotations through the washer and dryer, your favorite t-shirt has faded to a dulled out version of the bright hue it once proudly flaunted. You’ll probably wear it anyway (It’s a classic!), but how do you keep your other colors from succumbing to the same shabby fate?

You could pump the wash cycle full of the petroleum-based chemicals found in commercial color guard detergents, but you greenies wouldn’t do that. Instead try these four natural methods to keep your colors as vibrant as your personality.

1. Vinegar

Add one cup of white vinegar to a load during the rinse cycle. Vinegar helps “set” colors and prevents build-up of detergent residue, which contributes to color fading. Plus, it’s a natural clothing softener.

The vinegar won’t leave your clothes smelling like salad dressing—it should evaporate during the rinse cycle. If any of that potent smell does linger, let the clothes air dry outside. 

2. Black pepper 

Spice up the colors in your laundry by shaking a few teaspoons of black pepper into each load. Don’t worry about flakes of pepper dotting your clothes. The pepper will wash out during the rinse cycle.

3. Salt

It’s like cooking—for clothes. Pour ½ cup of salt in the wash cycle to prevent the dyes in colored fabrics from bleeding. This method works especially well on new clothes. Salt can also help restore the once-vivid colors in fading fabrics.

4. Baking soda 

This handy dandy cleaner helps brighten whites AND colors. (There’s no end to this pantry staple’s amazing uses.) Add ½ cup of baking soda to the wash cycle and watch your vibrant colors stay that way.

Good laundry practices

Using these four natural color protectors isn’t enough to keep your colors colorful. A few easy laundry methods (you probably do some of them already) will keep your colors brilliant and help your clothes last longer. 

1. Sort by color
Anyone who has ever accidentally washed a red sock with the whites, knows the importance of this step. Washing like colors together not only prevents unwanted pink underwear, but it also keeps colors from fading. 

2. Turn clothes inside out
Prevent colorful clothes from turning drab by flipping them inside out before tossing them in the wash. Doing this will add one more step to the laundry routine (go ahead, groan), but it will make your colored clothes more vivid in the long run. 

3. Use cold water
Double score! Using cold water is better for your clothes and the environment. 

4. Line dry
Heat can quickly zap the color from your clothes. Line dry clothes whenever possible. Be sure to keep bright and dark colors out of the sun.