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 May 15, 2005
Dilemma of the Month: Nov/Dec 2004
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Can you help us to solve this fellow viewers household dilemma?

If you have suggestions, please reply below. We'll pick a select number of replies to post and one of them may be yours!

This month's dilemma:

I like to have a lot of black colored clothes in my wardrobe, but after a few washings, the clothes start fading out. This also happens with other darker colors, but black is worse. If anyone knows of a way to lock the color into clothes, please let me know.

- Asked by Patsy Griffin of Georgia.


Most people think their clothing is not clean unless it is washed in hot water. This is not true. You avoid ading, shrinking, stain setting by using cold water. Laundry detergent is a corrosive (hint: the warning on label). When using detergent follow the instructions.  Betsy, IN

I have always soaked red OR black clothing items in cold salt water to set the color in and prevent color bleeding. It seems logical that it might help to prevent fading also.This is a tip shared with me years ago by my Mother-in-law.  Bobbee, PA

Put a cup of salt in the (water) washing machine so the black won't wash out.  Alicia

Always turn clothing inside out, use cold water & detergent formulated for dark colors.  Dry rightside out.  Cheryl, OH

Use WOOLITE and COLD Water.  Lesa, GA

Woolite now has a cleanser just for black clothing.  Helen, TN

Before laundering with detergent cover the new item with cold water mixed with white vinegar. I do this in the washer on the rinse cycle & let them set for about thirty minutes. I then wash the items as I normally would. This has worked well for me. (Black & colored clothes)  Janet, MO

To lock in colors, I soak the item in a mixture of 1/2 cup white vinegar & 2 gallons of water.  We golf & our colored caps & shirts can fade fast in the sunlight.  This has dramatically lengthened their life & appearance.  NOTE: I've only used this on 100% cotton & cotton/poly blends.  I'd recommend checking with a quality fabric store before trying this on other fabric blends.  Janis, OR

Black clothes (or other dark clothes, for that matter) begin to look faded after just a few washings. The drier does more damage than the washer, believe it or not. To help this problem, always turn the clothes inside out before putting them in the washer, and hang to dry, if possible. If not, dry on low heat.  Helen, GA

Dissolve one cup of salt with hot water.  Add cold water and stir.  Wash clothes in this the first wash.  Follow all future wash with cold water only.  Turn pants inside out, so they will not rub together with other like colors.  Shirley, CA

1.  Zip, button, and turn inside out before washing
2.  Use cold water. Start with hot to dissolve detergent, as soon as it's dissolved, turn to cold. (Undissolved detergent will leave a film)
3.  Keep the item turned inside out when you put it in the dryer.  DO NOT USE SOFTENER.  Softeners leave a whitish haze on everything!
4.  If you are ironing a dark piece, iron the entire thing inside out! This not only preserves the darkness, but eliminates the graying on seams, collars and cuffs.  If it sounds like too much effort, to press on the right side, use a press cloth.  (I use an old kitchen towel or an old hankie, as long as it is smooth.)  Put the press cloth between the fabric and the iron.  For an extra crisp look, you can dampen the press cloth.

In addition, there are now many good detergents on the market that support
dark colors.  Cheer and Woolite come to mind.  Patti, VT

I've tried the hot water, bleach, and soak method, and it really works well if you add a bluing agent to the rinse water like Mrs Stewart's Bluing. This was a trick that I learned from my grandmother! Works everytime.  Donna, TX

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