Keeping black clothes from fading is an ongoing battle. Black fabric tends to lose its rich, dark color over time from washing, sun exposure, and daily wear and tear. Luckily, there are some simple tricks you can use to stop your black clothes from fading or restore the color if it starts to look dull and grey.
Why Do Black Clothes Fade?
There are a few key reasons why black clothes tend to fade and lose their color:
- Frequent washing – The detergent, agitation, and water temperature used in regular washing causes the dye in black fabric to break down and fade over time.
- Sun exposure – The UV rays in sunlight can cause the dye molecules in black fabric to break down, resulting in fading and discoloration.
- Sweat and body oils – The acids and oils naturally produced by our skin can weaken and strip away black dye with repeated wear.
- Abrasion – Rubbing and friction against backpack straps, seating surfaces, etc. wears down black fabric and causes pilling/fading.
- Inferior dyes – Cheaper black dyes that are not colorfast are more prone to fading than high-quality pigments.
How to Wash Black Clothes
Washing plays a huge role in keeping black clothes looking their best. Follow these tips when cleaning black items:
- Wash in cold water – Hot water causes black dye to fade faster. Wash in the coolest temperature possible.
- Use a color-safe detergent – Look for a gentle, dye-preserving formula like Woolite Darks detergent.
- Skip the bleach – Never use chlorine bleach on black clothing as it will strip the color.
- Air dry – Tumble drying can accelerate fading. Hang-dry black pieces instead.
- Wash darks separately – Blacks should be washed apart from lights and whites to avoid dye transfer.
- Wash less frequently – Wash blacks only when needed to limit dye breakdown from detergents.
How to Dry Black Clothes
Drying black clothes properly is also key. Follow these dos and don’ts:
- Hang dry – As mentioned, air drying prevents fade-causing heat damage from the dryer.
- Dry in shade – Direct sun while drying oxidizes and fades black dye. Dry indoors or in shade.
- Remove promptly – Take clothes off the line as soon as dry to avoid over-exposure.
- Dry flat – Hang shirts, pants, etc. on hangers to prevent stretch and crease marks.
- Check labels – Follow garment care instructions for heat settings if machine drying.
How to Protect Black Clothes from the Sun
UV exposure is public enemy number one for black clothes. Take these precautions to limit fading:
- Wash before sun exposure – Treat new black clothes with dye fixative before wearing in strong sun.
- Cover up – Wear a cover-up over black swimwear when not in the water.
- Line dry in shade – As mentioned, dry black clothes out of direct sunlight.
- Wash and dry inside out – Turning black clothes inside out protects the dye.
- Store out of sunlight – Keep black clothing in dark closets or drawers.
How to Remove Stains on Black Clothes
Prompt stain removal preserves the richness of black fabric. Here are some stain busting tips:
- Treat spills quickly – Attend to stains right away before they have time to set.
- Blot don’t rub – Rubbing can grind stains deeper into the fabric. Gently blot instead.
- Use cold water – Warm or hot water can set some stains. Rinse under cold tap.
- Pre-treat with stain stick – Use a stain remover stick before washing to lift stains.
- Make a DIY spray – Mix a solution of 1 part dish soap, 1 part hydrogen peroxide and 4 parts water.
How to Touch Up Faded Black Clothes
If your black clothes have already started to fade or discolor, these techniques can restore them:
- Use color-safe bleach – Soak in a bath of oxygen-based color-safe bleach to revive dye.
- Try black fabric dye – Use an at-home fabric dye kit to paint or soak item in new black dye.
- Replace belts, collars, cuffs – Swap out the most faded parts of clothing with fresh black trim.
- Attach black appliques – Sew or iron on black lace, ribbons, patches to cover discolored areas.
- Wear a dark camisole – For faded black tops, wear a black cami or tank underneath.
Black Clothing Care Checklist
Keep this checklist handy for easy reference on caring for your black wardrobe:
|Wash in cold water||Use the coolest temperature to prevent dye breakdown.|
|Use color-safe detergent||Look for a gentle, dye-preserving formula.|
|Air dry||Line dry or lay flat to prevent heat damage.|
|Dry in the shade||Keep black items out of direct sunlight when drying.|
|Wash darks separately||Prevent fading and dye transfer by washing black clothes separately.|
|Store in dark spaces||Keep black clothes in closets and drawers away from light exposure.|
Homemade Black Dye Recipe
You can make your own fabric dye at home to touch up faded black clothes. Here is an easy recipe to try:
- 1 cup strong black coffee
- 1 cup black tea
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups warm water
- Brew 1 cup of strong black coffee and allow to cool.
- Steep 1 cup of black tea for 5-10 minutes and allow to cool.
- Mix together coffee, tea, salt and 2 cups warm water in a pot or bucket.
- Add clothing item and make sure it’s fully submerged. For heavy fading, allow to soak overnight.
- Remove clothing and rinse until water runs clear.
- Wash as normal and dry. The color should be restored!
Preserving the deep, rich color of your black wardrobe does require some extra care. But armed with these laundry, drying, storage, and touch-up tips your blacks will stay look their absolute best. With a little extra attention while washing and wearing, you can keep your black clothing looking like new for many seasons to come.