The Natural Way to Keep Fabric from Fading

If you’ve been sewing or quilting for any amount of time, you’ve probably come across the age-old dilemma of whether or not to prewash your fabrics. In addition to getting any shrinkage out of the way before you sew with the fabric, prewashing can keep dark fabric dyes (reds and purples) from bleeding onto lighter-colored fabrics.

But wait… don’t you want the vibrant dyes to stay in your fabrics, thus keeping them bright and pretty?

Fortunately, there are several natural remedies to help fabric colors stay bright when laundered. To keep fabric from fading in the wash, follow these simple quilting hacks for using some well-known items from around your house! Don’t let those brilliant hues escape your fabrics, especially if you’ve already invested hours into stitching up completed projects, like a garment or quilt.

Colorful Quilt

Photo via Craft Buds

Here are suggestions for how to naturally keep fabric from fading:

Salt

Add a tablespoon of salt to the wash, and the chloride will help our clothing pack a colorful punch when it comes out of the dryer. The reason? Chloride found in salt actually helps to seal the color in fabrics, thus keeping it from fading. Try this out on your finished quilts to keep the colors bright, or treat your clothing. Everything, including handmade garments, should come out of the wash with all of its color intact.

But what if your fabrics have already faded? Some say that salt can actually help restore the brightness of over-laundered and dull fabrics.

Cold water

Washing fabrics in cold water will not only help you cut down on your bills, but it will also help to keep your fabric colors from fading. Pair the cold water cycle with a color brightening detergent to boost your colors in the wash.

Vinegar

Did you know that white vinegar can help to keep fabric colors from fading? If you add ½ cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle, the liquid will freshen up your laundry and help colors maintain their intensity. Prior to a first washing, you can also soak dark fabrics for 30 minutes in water mixed with ½ cup of vinegar and 2 teaspoons of salt to help set the dyes. Organic Authority shares more tips on using vinegar to help fabric colors set.

Baking soda

It’s not just for keeping your teeth white (or erasing odors from your fridge). Baking soda can also be added to your laundry to help fabrics maintain their brightness. Add ½ cup of baking soda during the wash cycle to try it out.

Air drying

If you want to help your fabrics maintain their color after washing, you can let them hang to air dry. But remember to keep them out of the sun for best results, since exposure to the sun can fade fabrics even quicker than a spin cycle.

We’d love to hear your tips to help keep fabric colors bright!

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6 Responses to “The Natural Way to Keep Fabric from Fading”

  1. ALEK

    First, I'm from the old school. Our mother had us sort laundry by colors. Darks, lights, dark and light towels, and reds. Yes, reds got their own load. I still do this. I throw in new reds with old reds, hoping they will brighten up the old reds. This helps maintain both old and new colors. The second thing is a question, to Carlo Volti. Where do you buy alum for prewashing new fabrics, and how much do you use?

    Reply
  2. Carlo Volti

    Instead of using salt with vinegar, use alum. The salt laundry hack is just an old wives tale that doesn't work. The only thing salt can do that's washing related is keep your homemade liquid soap liquid. Alum is used as a mordant when dyeing because it helps the fibers of the fabric accept the dye. As an added bonus, both vinegar and alum also help soften clothes. For normal colors, most color-safe bleaches work fine, as long as they are hydrogen peroxide based (most are). These can also disinfect your clothes without the need for chlorine bleach.

    Reply
  3. Marlynn Allen

    In a room that is not direct sun light but bright are quilts in an open door side fade resistance. Should I cover the open side even not direct sun

    Reply
  4. gäbe

    fact: I once cycled paßt the dylon factory sat in a foreßt in subüban south east london kent unaware it existed there

    Reply
  5. Shamim ali

    I tried soaking coloured fabrics cotton and silk in cold water with white vinegar and salt 3 times and still the colours bled when washed and ruined other clothes

    Reply
    • Sara

      It was probably the silk fabric that faded. I have had a particular red silk garment 10 years that continues to bleed. I always put a color catcher in the wash.

      Reply