how to wash red clothes

How to Wash Red Clothes in 9 Simple Steps

Your vivid and vibrant reds command attention and power, but they also seem like the most notorious for shedding dye. If you own a couple that are made of natural fibers, you know how the story goes.

A bleeding spree during the first few washes, gradual reduction in dye shedding at some point, and retention of color when they already look pale and irredeemable. But you might be lucky and own a few that hold dye much like synthetic fibers.

Whether your red clothes are the fading or colorfast type, the most important thing is to wash them properly to protect them as well as your other clothes.

But first….

Do Red Clothes Actually Shed Dye the Most?

Like black clothes, reds are great offenders when it comes to shedding dye. But for the sake of facts, they do not bleed more than other colors. They only appear to because of the kind of dye that some textile manufacturers use.

According to Rinse, clothes fade more when bathed in direct dye. This kind of dye is commonly used with red clothes, resulting to persistent bleeding issues unless the right cationic dye fixative is utilized as a treatment measure.
Not all red clothes bleed because the fabric was soaked in direct dye. It is normal for clothes bathed in other kinds of dye products to release excess dye that stays on the surface of the fabric during the first few washes.

Some red clothes do not bleed at all. The credit goes to the type of dye used, the type of fabric as well as the fixative used.

How to Wash Red Clothes

how to wash red clothes

Learning hot to wash red clothes is important because you protect them from premature wear and tear, and you also ensure that they do not release dye to the rest of your clothing items.

#1. Sort Laundry

Red clothes fall in the category of colors. That being the case, separate them from whites and darks. If you are sure that they are colorfast, you do not need to separate them any more by color. You can safely wash them with the rest of your colors.

If they are non-colorfast, separate them from other colors in your laundry basket. Washing them together will result stains on the rest of your clothes as a result of dye transfer. Alternatively, wash them together but use a color catcher.

Separate red bedsheets and towels from the rest of your red laundry. They are best washed separately.

#2. Read the Care Label

You are not done with sorting after separating your bunch of red clothes from the rest of your laundry. You have to take one garment at a time, read the care tag and determine the right washing method.

Some reds are machine washable, others are hand washable and the rest are dry clean only. Follow washing instructions on the care label to avoid ruining your clothes.

#3. Treat Non-colorfast Clothes with a Fixative

There is something you can do to stop your clothes from fading or at least slow down the rate at which they shed color. The move is to use a dye fixative.

You most likely have heard of how people use salt or vinegar to set dye on clothes. These two are only 100% useful during the manufacturing stage where clothes are bathed in dyebath,

Salt is used to enhance the absorption of dyestuffs whereas vinegar is used during the production of acidic dyes to color fabrics such as nylon and wool.

Whether salt and vinegar can set dye on ready-to-wear clothes is debatable. Some people believe that it works, others perceive it as a waste of time and money.

I would use these home agents to satisfy my curiosity but a reliable way to control garment bleeding is by using a dye fixative. I recommend Retayne. It is a reputable dye fixing agent that you can use safely on cotton, linen and rayon.

#4. Wash on Cold

Most Americans have been conditioned to believe that warm water is the best for doing laundry. This is simply not true.

If you do not have warm or hot water, you can still wash your clothes effectively. You should in fact wash most your clothes in cold water without experiencing any issues. One way to ensure that cold water cleans your clothes thoroughly is to use the right detergent and stain removing agent.

When washing delicates such as non-colorfast reds, pair cold water with an efficient detergent. If you notice that the clothes are not getting as clean as you would desire, think about agitation.

Perhaps using your hands to wash one part of the clothing against another might help. Alternatively use your fingers to rub a few drops of detergent on the dirty sections and scrub them gently with a soft brush.

#5. Choose a Gentle Detergent

 Most regular detergents can get dirt out of your clothes effortlessly. That said, bear in mind that they contain harsh sulfates and brighteners that can fade colors and make most fabrics weak.

 A safe approach is to wash sensitive fabrics with a mild detergent to keep them looking new. Gentle detergents are mostly bleach-free, and have the right composition to condition most fabrics.

One of the best gentle detergents is Puracy Natural. It is safe to use on most items including baby clothes.

#6. Turn Clothes Inside Out

Most clothes can go into the washer with the wearable side on the outside. However, turning them inside out is good, especially if they are delicate.

Some of the advantages for washing clothes while they are inside out include reduced fading, reduced pilling and formation of pills on the outer surface of the fabric, and reduced wear and tear.  

#7. Choose a Delicate Cycle

Wash clothes on a delicate cycle to preserve colors and reduce pilling. However, you can run a normal cycle if they are heavily soiled.

Alternatively, wash them gently by hands.

#8. Avoid Fabric Softener

Keep off fabric softener during the rinse cycle and use vinegar in its place. Fabric softener coats your clothing to achieve fabric softening but vinegar achieves the same results by removing soap and product residue from your clothes.

Vinegar is also a better alternative because it imparts clothes with a fresh odor and has the ability to destroy mold and mildew.

#9. Hang to Dry

If possible avoid the dryer and hang your red clothes to dry. Hang them while they are turned inside out, and preferably under a shade.


How do I wash red clothes for the first time?

When washing red clothes for the first time, the first step is to read the care label. It tells you whether the garment is colorfast or not, and gives you laundry directions. If the tag indicates that the clothing is non-colorfast, it means that it will bleed during the first few washes.

You can presoak the garment in a solution water and vinegar or water and salt. Alternatively use a cationic dye fixative. It is a more reliable method for setting dye, which gives you the assurance that the garment will lose little or no color during the first and future washes.

After treating your garment, launder as directed in the care label.

Can I wash red clothes with other colors?

There is no harm washing red clothes with other colors if they are colorfast. However, wash them separately if they are non-colorfast to avoid staining. Alternatively, use a color catcher. This is a sheet that you place in the washing machine so that it can trap loose dye during a wash cycle.

How do I stop clothes from bleeding color?

You stop clothes from fading by using the right fixative to set the dye. In most cases, clothes bleed do not (unless there is excess dye residue on the surface of the fabric) because of the type of dye and fixatives used by textile professionals during the manufacturing process.

But when clothes are bathed in direct dye, bleeding occurs and you have to use a fixative. Salt and vinegar are commonly used as household laundry fixatives. Unfortunately, they do very little to help because they only play a significant role when used during the dyeing process.

A better fixative to use is a commercial product such as Retayne.

Should I wash red clothes in hot or cold?

Wash red clothes in cold water to preserve color and the quality of the fabric. Cold water can clean most clothes effectively if paired with the right detergent. If your local area has hard water, soften it with washing soda.

How do you wash red clothes in the washing machine?

Follow the instructions on your clothing care label to wash red clothes in the washing machine. If you cannot find the information, wash your reds on cold and use mild detergent. Run a delicate cycle and use vinegar in the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener.

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