How to wash coloured clothes
We all want our favourite pieces to live on in full colour, and it’s easy if you know how. Follow our step-by-step colour-washing guide to keep your laundry days shining bright.
Step #1: sort and separate
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It’s super important to always separate your laundry by type and colour, as it reduces the risk of strong- or dark-coloured items ‘bleeding’ onto lighter-coloured ones.
~ Darks: black, navy, red, brown, dark grey.
~ Lights: white, pastel, light grey, and white background print.
~ Items of the same/similar colours: for example, a selection of blues.
~ Delicates: delicates and lighter items (such as lingerie, blouses and shirts) should be washed apart from more resilient fabrics and items of a heavier weight (like denim).
~ Patterned items/items with more than one colour: if you’ve got items containing more than one colour, sort each item based on the colour in the majority. This is likely to be the case with patterned items, such as stripes, florals, plaids, and polka dots. For items with an even balance of colours, sort according to the strongest colour in the mix.
~ Bright colours: test whether vibrant-coloured items will bleed when washed by washing them alone by hand. This might happen with woollen items in particular, but it’s nothing to worry about - it’s just the yarn dye releasing some colour, and won’t have any noticeable effect on the colour of your garment once you’ve finished washing.
Step #2: pre-treat discoloured areas
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Pretreat any discoloured or soiled areas first. Simply dilute some of our detergent in cool water and gently work it into the garment using a clean cloth, then dab away the residue with another clean, wet cloth. Continue to dampen the cloth with cool water as necessary until the stain disappears. We also recommend treating the stain from the back, to push it out rather than in: treating a stain from the front can set it even deeper into the fabric.
Step #3: wash with Kair
Many laundry products contain bleaching agents, such as chlorine bleach. Yet these chemical-stuffed detergents will quite literally blitz the life out of your fabrics, damaging the fibres and causing irreversible fading. Our gentle yet effective plant-based surfactants, by contrast, are here to Kair for your favourite pieces, rather than play tricks. We want your fabrics to live on in full colour, not fade away and fray at the edges.
Step #4: keep it cool
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A 30°C wash won’t negatively affect colour retention, so you can go cool with confidence! Plus, heat can damage and discolour coloured fabrics over time - especially delicates. The washing cycle you choose depends on the fabric (check out our article explaining washing machine cycles), but for most loads a normal cycle will be fine. But for delicate items (or if you’re ever in doubt), always choose the delicates or hand wash cycle.
Step #5: air dry only
Most colour fading occurs in the tumble dryer, so if you must, set your tumble dryer to the lowest setting. But we recommend ditching it altogether, as well as other heat sources like radiators, and air drying instead. For most non-woollen items, line drying is best: it not only preserves the colour, but can also help maintain your garment’s elasticity, shape and overall integrity. For woollens, dry in their natural shape on a flat surface.
Step #6: freshen between washes
To maximise colour preservation, avoid washing after every single wear! Instead, spot-treat where necessary, and freshen up with finishing spray between washes.
Step #7: clean your machine
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Prevent colours from becoming dull by regularly cleaning your machine. As we explain in Laundry Myths and Truths, a machine that cleans clothes doesn’t clean itself! Simply run a hot service wash (60º C or higher) once a month at a high temperature, with no clothes in the machine, and in place of your usual detergent add a large cup of white vinegar or lemon juice together with some baking soda to disinfect the tub. We also recommend leaving the drum door open between washes, to let in air and reduce mould build-up.
Now you know how to care for coloured clothes. So say goodbye to faded favourites and colour run casualties, and hello to stress-free, colour-washing confidence.
Cover image by Getty Images