Tips for washing your coloured clothes in the washing machine

Coloured clothes are stylish but also need special care, as they tend to fade and lose colour more quickly than light or dark clothes.

So how do you wash coloured clothes in the washing machine to preserve them? Here is our guide.

Instructions for machine-washing coloured fabrics

Wash all dark garments together, then all white or light-coloured garments. Treat colours like this: ‘bright’ coloured garments such as purple, red, orange and bright yellow in one load, bright blue and green garments in another.

As with any other wash, always check the labels on each garment to ensure you use the correct cycle and water temperature. And remember to wash new clothes separately as they may lose colour.

If stains are present, do a pre-treatment with a small amount of laundry detergent: pour it on the stain and rub the fabric to penetrate the detergent into the fibres.

Do not overfill the washing machine and, except in special cases, always try to use a delicate or medium cycle, selecting a washing temperature appropriate to what is stated on the label.

How to avoid fading and discolouration of coloured garments

In order to avoid fading and discolouration of coloured garments, there are numerous steps you can take:

  • always separate dyed garments from white or light-coloured garments, as they can release pigments during washing and stain light-coloured fabrics;
  • turn dyed garments inside out before washing, or place them in special bags: you will protect the colours from friction and abrasion with other garments;
  • use a mild detergent or one specifically designed for colours: as they are less aggressive than normal detergents, they reduce the risk of fading;
  • wash coloured garments at 30/40°C: high temperatures can make colours fade faster;
  • do not overload the washing machine, to avoid damage to clothes;
  • avoid using bleach, or detergents containing it;
  • Dry coloured garments outdoors or in a well-ventilated place, preferably in the shade. Avoid tumble dryers, as high temperatures can damage colours;
  • Iron them inside out or use a protective cloth between the iron and the fabric to avoid damage;
  • if your garments are a little faded, you can use specific colour renewal products.

Detergents and specific products for washing coloured fabrics

There are dozens of detergents on supermarket shelves. So how do you choose detergent for coloured clothes? The best choice is the one that fits your family’s needs in terms of efficacy, personal preference for fragrance, format and price.

Consider your family’s typical laundry, including the types of stains and the amount of dirt you typically deal with. If most clothes are only lightly soiled and have few stains, you may find that a cheaper detergent and a good stain remover is all you need. If you have children who play outdoor sports, or if someone in the family does a job that often causes grease or oil stains, you will need a heavy-duty detergent instead.

Also, read the labels of laundry detergents: it is important to look for surfactants and enzymes capable of removing dirt and stains. Cheap brands have fewer of them, which is why they also clean less. The ideal is to have a double choice next to the washing machine: a detergent for lightly soiled clothes and one for heavily soiled clothes.

And if choosing between powder or liquid detergent is a matter of preference, special attention should be paid to concentrated detergents. Although packaged in smaller sizes, they have the same cleaning power as their non-concentrated counterparts (excess water and/or fillers are simply removed from these products, which is why they are easier and less expensive to ship or store). To determine the correct amount to use, follow the instructions on the label and use the measuring cup provided.

Many people finally choose detergent based on its scent. Remember, however, that ‘smelling clean’ is not the same thing as being clean: make sure that the dirt actually comes off!

Apart from the fragrance and formula, there are special detergents for coloured clothes. Alternatively, you can use the Color Bag, an 85×70 cm bag that allows you to wash coloured and white clothes in a single wash, saving energy, water and detergent. All you have to do is put the light-coloured garments in one bag, the coloured ones in another, and close the zip before putting them in the washing machine. Each bag is guaranteed for up to 50 washes at 60°C.

Washing coloured garments in the washing machine: recommended temperatures and washing cycles

When washing coloured garments in the washing machine, it is preferable to use cold water at 20-30°C, as this is less aggressive and reduces the risk of fading. Furthermore, it is advisable to set a delicate wash cycle for coloured garments, especially if they have details such as sequins or beads, and if the fabric is delicate. For durable coloured garments, on the other hand, the normal wash cycle may be fine.

Remember that washing at 0° C is ideal for silk and wool. For synthetic and cotton, coloured and lightly soiled garments, jeans, towels and household linen, set the temperature to 30°-40° C. Reserve washing at 60° C for heavily soiled garments.

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