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A Cleaner World Blog

How to Prevent Fabric Bleeding & Fading

In past blog posts, we’ve talked about things that cause color loss, but what about garments where the color fades or runs?  Let’s start with a little lesson in chemistry:

  • Color is added to fabric when it encounters a special solution that contains both dyes and certain chemical compounds.  Once the process is complete, the dye molecules have a chemical bond with the fiber molecules.
  • When a dye keeps its color after the fabric is exposed to conditions of use (like wearing in the sun, machine washing or dry cleaning, and ironing), it is called a fast dye.
  • If a dye fades when exposed to the same uses as mentioned above, it is known as a fugitive dye.

According to the International Textile Analysis Laboratory (ITAL), an independent organization based in Laurel, Maryland, fugitive dye color loss is one of the biggest manufacturer-related problems reported.  What happens is that the dye dissolves when a garment is machine washed or dry cleaned as instructed on the attached care label.  This issue doesn’t always occur over the entire garment and can be confined to a particular area or design on a garment.  It seems that there are certain colors that are more vulnerable than others like pink, red, blue, and black.

What can you do to prevent fabric bleeding and fading?  Many of these suggestions we’ve shared in the past as general guidelines for providing proper care for all your garments, and they apply in this situation as well.

  • Always follow the directions on the garment’s care label. 
  • If you have an ensemble, be sure to clean all the pieces at the same time.
  • Wash similar colors together in case there is color bleeding during the wash to keep the dye from transferring to other items.
  • Blot stains and spills with a clean, white cloth making sure not to rub and then clean the garment as soon as possible.
  • Spray on perfume and hairspray before dressing and allow it to dry completely before putting on clothing.
  • Launder or dry clean items as soon as possible after wearing to prevent color loss from perspiration.
  • Always store garments away from natural and artificial light.

If you purchase a garment that can be dry cleaned and are concerned about color loss, A Cleaner World can always test it for colorfastness.  If the results show that the colors may bleed, that gives you the option to either keep the garment or return it for a refund. 

Finally, even if you do everything right, a garment may still have issues with color.  I’ve personally had this happen, and I simply took the garment and the receipt to the department store where I purchased it.  I explained the issue, and they refunded my money. 

clothing shirts
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