How to minimize color loss

June 13, 2016

Garments lose color for various reasons. Contact with bleach or household cleaning products can disturb dyes, resulting in white discolorations. Same with hair preparations and other moisture solutions or perfumes and other substances containing alcohol.

“Fugitive dyes” are not colorfast to cleaning solutions and are the biggest manufacturer-related problem reported by the International Textile Analysis Laboratory (ITAL), an independent organization based in Laurel, Maryland. In these cases, the dyes dissolve when an item is cleaned in drycleaning solvent or water despite the instructions on the care label. The color loss may occur throughout the garment or be localized in certain areas. For instance, the pink flowers on a pink-and-white print may be solvent-soluble but may come out completely white after cleaning.

Some dyes are more susceptible to loss of color than others. Pink, red, blue, and black are usually the most troublesome colors and can be expected to show some type of variance regardless of the precautions taken.

How can you minimize color loss?

Follow the care label. Instructions that specify that the garment be washed with similar colors, separately, or in cold water may indicate unstable dyes.

If you suspect a dye, such as red or pink, will bleed during washing, wash with similar colors in cold water on short cycle to minimize any color loss and dye transfer to other articles in the load.

Clean all the pieces of a matching outfit at the same time to avoid any color discrepancies.

Store garments away from natural and artificial light. A cool, dark closet is a good location for storage.

Treat all spills immediately. Blot – do not rub. Some spills like soft drinks may dry invisibly but can show up later.

Use care when applying perfumes, hair spray, and other alcohol-containing substances, bleach, and skin preparations.

Have garments cleaned as soon as possible after wear to prevent color loss from perspiration.

Point out any spills and examine the garment before cleaning for any type of color loss.

If you purchase a drycleanable garment that you suspect may have color problems (multiple colors or red/white combinations), ask us to test it for colorfastness. If tests show the colors may bleed, you may opt to return it to your retailer for a refund.

Remember that some garments may have color problems in spite of the care label and testing.