How to wash dark clothes? Here are 6 simple rules that should be followed to both get dark and black clothes clean and help them retain their bold color:

  • Sort darks from blacks, and wash separately;
  • Know that washing white clothes with colors is always a no-no;
  • Use a laundry detergent that won’t fade clothes;
  • Wash in the shortest cycle that will get them clean;
  • Hang dark clothes to dry if possible; if not, machine dry at a lower temperature and remove while still slightly damp.

Washing colored clothes safely will reward you with items that last longer and look bold and clean. Here’s how to wash darks safely in 6 easy steps.

1  separating laundry by color to prevent dye transfer between clothes.

The first step when washing dark clothes is separating laundry according to color shades. Separate light colors from darks, and darks from black clothes, and wash each separately.

Washing lights and darks together is a recipe for color transfer between clothes – and both will emerge looking worse for wear.

It’s less expensive to wash dark clothes correctly than to replace them, so keep that in mind as you sort.

You’ll also want to be on the lookout for stained stains, and set stained items aside for pretreating before you toss them into the washing machine.

Treat stains you encounter with a small amount of laundry detergent that doesn’t contain bleach. Pour a bit of the detergent directly on the stained area and gently rub the detergent into the fibers, allowing it to sit for several minutes before washing.

2  turn new dark clothes inside out and wash in cold water the first time.

For a first washing, turn dark clothes inside out and machine wash cold (60 to 80 degrees F) in the gentle wash cycle.

Using a cold temperature to wash colors the first time slows the dye transfer process, while warmer water loosens up fabrics, and has the opposite effect – allowing color to be released from the fabric more quickly. This is key to prevent clothes fading.

Always select “cold” for the rinse-water temperature – and this goes for all your clothes, regardless of color. A cold rinse cycle saves energy and is just as effective as warm or hot water and helps prevent dark clothes from fading.

3  wash dark clothes in the shortest cycle that will get them clean.

Washing dark clothes in the shortest cycle appropriate for the soil level and the fabric is the best way to minimize color fading.

Regular cycle is fine for most clothes; but if you’ve just worn a pair of dark pants a time or two and they are without stains, you can choose a light wash to get them clean. The less time dark clothes are soaking in soapy water, the better chance they have for retaining their original color.

4  use a laundry detergent that won’t fade clothes.

Choose a laundry detergent laundry specially formulated for dark clothes, or stick to a basic, additive-free detergent when washing dark clothes.

Specifically, avoid laundry detergent that has added boosters such as color-safe bleach, as it will quickly strip the color from your dark clothes.

If dark clothes are heavily soiled, or if you’re washing a large load of darks, add extra laundry detergent to ensure the load gets clean the first time.

The one thing you will want to add, however, is a fabric softener to protect against fading and fuzz.

5  remove dark clothes from the washing machine promptly to avoid color transfer.

Remove dark clothes from the washer as soon as the cycle finished. Allowing dark clothes to sit in the machine may cause the colors to leech onto other items in your load.

6  drying tips to prevent clothes fading.

Avoid machine drying your dark clothes if possible to keep them from fading. In addition, a dryer can set any missed stains. So avoid it altogether if at all possible.

Instead, hang your dark clothes to dry away from direct sunlight, which can quickly fade colors.