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How to Prevent Fabric Color Transfer, Bleeding, and Fading

Updated on October 5, 2017
How to Prevent Fabric Color Transfer, Bleeding, and Fading
How to Prevent Fabric Color Transfer, Bleeding, and Fading | Source

Why Do Fabrics Bleed, Crock, and Fade?

Firstly, let’s begin with the basic terminology.

Crocking is the color transfer that occurs when fabric rubs against something, such as furniture, shoes, or skin. This happens when the dye has not properly adhered to the fabric.

Color bleed occurs when the fabric gets wet and dye leaches out of the fibers. This commonly occurs in the washing machine and can result in color transfer between items in the load.

Color fading is when the fabric has lost much of its dye and therefore lacks vibrancy and depth.

There are a number of reasons for the dye to crock, bleed, and fade. For example:

  • Poor quality dye
  • Incorrect dying technique
  • Incorrect dye used for the type of fabric (not all dyes work on all kinds of fabrics)
  • An excess of dye left in the product because the item was not properly rinsed out during the dying process
  • The manufacturer has not used fixer or ‘mordant’ to bind the dye to the fabric
  • The mordant has washed out of the fabric due to prolonged hot washing and so is no longer holding the dye to the fibers
  • Wear and tear: friction between fabrics that can cause micro-breakages in the fibers and lead to the release of dye
  • Bleaching, which can be caused by the fabric's exposure to bleaching products, heat, and/or sun.

What Is a Mordant?

A mordant is a substance that is used to set dyes on fabrics.

Color bleed, run, and transfer occur when the fabric gets wet and dye leaches out.
Color bleed, run, and transfer occur when the fabric gets wet and dye leaches out.

How to Prevent Fabric Color Bleeding, Crocking, and Fading

A common myth circulating the internet is that washing the item in either vinegar or salt “sets” the dye and prevents it from running. Unfortunately, this is not true. Although vinegar does help set some acid dyes, it only works during the dyeing process and not for cotton dyes. Similarly, salt is used in the dying process to encourage the fiber to take the dye, but it will not stop the color from running or crocking after the garment has been dyed. If you tried salt and it appeared to work, it's only because the additional washing has removed the last bits of the unattached dye. The only real ways to prevent color transferring and fading are the following:

  • Treat your fabrics with a color fixative such as Retayne or Rit Dye Fixative. Dye fixatives reduce color bleeding in fabrics where the dye has not been properly fixed or washed out. This dye fixatives can often "fix" these loose dyes and prevent further color bleeding in your fabrics. These dye fixatives are particularly popular with quilters in order to reduce bleeding between the patches of fabric. However, be aware that they are not very effective on polyester and acrylic materials.
  • Do loads of laundry that are the same color and be aware that it’s not just new clothes that run. The chemical fixers or mordants used to hold the dye to the fiber can wear off after repeated washing, so always wash similar colors together to prevent color run, regardless of the age of the garment and how many times you may have washed it before.
  • Many of us over-wash our clothes for fear of been seen as dirty or smelly, but with delicate clothes you should try to wash as little as necessary. Before washing an item, ask yourself: “Is it really dirty, and does it really need to be washed?” If it only has an odor, try airing it or using an odor eliminating product like Febreze. If it’s only dirty in a small area, then spot clean it.

  • Wash with cool or cold water. Hot water tends to open up the fibers of the fabric which encourages the dye to escape and run. If you live in a very cold area, the water may get too cold during the winter so set the washer to “warm” 30ºC (86ºF). Make sure you are using a detergent that is designed to perform in cold water.
  • The friction that occurs during a wash cycle can cause micro-breakages in the fibers and lead to the release of dye. This is one of the reasons why you see fading in fabrics over time. You can minimize this friction by washing heavy items like jeans in a load together. Also, fasten zippers and hooks and turn items inside out. This is particularly effective with jeans.
  • For clothes that fade quickly (like jeans), use a short wash or a gentle cycle to help reduce friction.
  • Try using a color catcher product such as Shout color catcher sheets in your wash. The sheets are designed to absorb and trap loose dyes, but be aware that they are not completely failsafe. Washing with like colors is the only way to prevent color transfer.

Don't leave your wash sitting in the washing machine too long, or color transfer can occur.
Don't leave your wash sitting in the washing machine too long, or color transfer can occur. | Source
  • Don’t leave wet clothes in a pile or sitting in the machine for too long as this gives the colors time to leach out.
  • Since the sun can act as a bleach, dry your clothes in the shade and try not to use the dryer.
  • If your garment has bled heavily and become discolored despite following the care instructions, then you should consider returning the item for a refund.
  • For faded clothes with plenty of wear left in them, try re-dying using the home dye kits that are available.

Simply by turning my clothes inside out during both the washing and drying process and using cool water, there is a significant color difference between the inside and outside of my clothes. The inside becomes much more faded than the outside. This process helps maintain vibrancy much longer, greatly extending the life of my garments.

Re-dyeing clothing is a great way to get more wear out of faded clothes.
Re-dyeing clothing is a great way to get more wear out of faded clothes. | Source

Does Vinegar and Salt Prevent Colors From Crocking?

No. This is a myth. With certain fabrics it does help during the dying process itself, but not afterward, once the dye has supposedly set.

Color Bleeding, Crocking, and Fading in Jeans

I’m sure we've all had those embarrassing and frustrating experiences when jeans have crocked blue onto our legs and hands. I've had many clothes and shoes ruined (even my favorite cream knee-high Ugg boots), not to mention the mortifying moment when I realized that I had dyed my friend’s expensive white couch blue.

The indigo dye used in blue jeans is applied using a purposely inferior dyeing practice called ring dyeing. This method only affects the outer ring of the cotton fiber, leaving the core white, so after a small amount of wear and tear, this top layer of dyed fiber wears off to expose the white inside. This enables us to “wear in" our jeans and achieve the perfect worn look. This method is also used in jeans that are sold as pre-washed or pre-worn because it’s easy to create an instant age effect using a little abrasion.

The downside to all of this, of course, is that it makes the jeans crock and bleed.

Tate-ochi or vertical falling: the forming of faded vertical lines.
Tate-ochi or vertical falling: the forming of faded vertical lines.

A recent desire for unfaded jeans has not necessarily led to a change in the manufacturers' dyeing processes and many dark jeans are poorly dyed. This is partly due to the fact that indigo is a difficult dye to work with, especially for cotton (it works better with wool and silk). This is because it needs repeated applications in multiple dye baths using the correct equipment, techniques, and a good understanding of chemistry. Due to these complexities, it is often done poorly.

Ultimately, this means that unless your jeans were dyed correctly, then some crocking and fading are bound to occur, no matter what you do.

Denim Fade Types

Tate-ochi or “vertical falling” is the forming of faded vertical lines. This occurs when the thread width is not uniform. The color fades most where the thread is the thickest and that thread creates a white line.

Atari is the term used to describe the fading that occurs on your jeans with age. But it doesn’t stop there—the fading that appears in each part of the jeans has its own terminology:

  • Thigh and crotch wear: Whiskers
  • Ankle wear: Stacks
  • Back of knees wear: Honeycombs

How to Prevent Jeans From Bleeding, Crocking, and Fading

Earlier in this article, I warned against washing fabrics in hot water, as this can accelerate fading. However, for new jeans, place the jeans in a very hot wash to remove the unattached particles of dye. Set the washing machine's temperature setting to its highest (usually 90ºC or 194ºF). This will only help if the dyeing was done reasonably well.

Of course, this won’t help preserve the original dark color of the denim and may in fact accelerate its loss, so only do this for the first wash.

Can I Use a Fixative?

Fixatives may not work on denim. Products like Retayne work well on many types of dye, but not on the indigo used on most denim.

The only way that fixatives can help is if your jeans have been dyed using direct dye, another kind of cotton dye. It can also work with fiber reactive dye that has not been properly fixed to the fabric. Unfortunately, there is usually no way of knowing what kind of dye was used, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Fixatives are more likely to help in cases where the denim has been dyed other colors such as a blue-black, black, green, or brown.

Retayne Color Fixative

G&K Craft Gnkret-16 Ind. Retayne 16oz, 16 oz
G&K Craft Gnkret-16 Ind. Retayne 16oz, 16 oz

Retayne Color Fizative is for commercially-dyed cotton, linen, and rayon fabrics that bleed. Simply use in the washing machine or treat by hand washing with hot water. Note: This product does not work with indigo, so it won't prevent most jeans from fading.

 

Unfortunately there is no way to make the indigo in jeans stay dark forever. The only way to prevent the indigo from fading is to apply it correctly in the first place. However, the color will stay darker longer if you always wash your jeans following the instructions as discussed above. When your jeans have lost too much color, you could also consider re-dying them using Rit's Denim Blue dye. For darker, blue/black coloured jeans, you can achieve a similar color by mixing Rit's Denim Blue dye with their standard black dye. These dyes tend to work best with cotton jeans.

How to Remove Color Run and Bleeding From Fabrics

First of all, don't panic. There are a number of steps that can be taken before the item is relegated to the “can only wear around the house” pile. Be aware that dark clothing utilizes dark dyes that can be especially difficult to remove.

  • Don’t toss the stained item aside to deal with later because when it dries, the dye “sets,” making it very difficult to remove.
  • Treat the item with powdered oxygen bleach like Seventh Generation Natural Oxy Stain Remover.
  1. Make a solution of ½ scoop of oxy bleach to 2 cups of warm water. You may need to make a greater quantity if you have a number of affected items.
  2. Spread this concentrated mix over the stained areas and allow it to penetrate for 5 minutes.
  3. While your items are soaking, dissolve two additional scoops of the oxy bleach powder into a bucket with a little warm water.
  4. Once dissolved, stir in 4 liters (1 gallon) of cool water and place the items into the bucket to soak for one to five hours, depending on how heavily stained they are.
  5. This process may need to be repeated if not all traces of dye have been removed.

Use powdered oxygen bleach to soak garments affected by laundry color bleed.
Use powdered oxygen bleach to soak garments affected by laundry color bleed. | Source

What to Look for When Shopping

  • Feel the cloth's texture before purchasing. Does it feel kind of stiff and crunchy? This indicates that there may be excess dye left in the fabric. Be aware that you will need to wash this item several times to remove the excess dye and that this could leave it a lighter color.
  • Read the label for warning words such as “Turn inside out to launder,” “Wash in cold water,” and “Color may fade.” These are signs that the manufacturer knows the dyes are unstable. This doesn’t just apply to dark fabrics—these warnings can appear on a range of fabrics and colors because it’s dependent on what type of dye process was used. This shouldn’t prevent you from buying the item, but at least you will know what to expect.
  • Fabrics like polyester and jersey knits are usually more resistant to bleeding than more delicate materials. The fabrics least likely to run are those made of synthetics, because the color is added to the fibers while they are being created.

Make an informed decision: Check the label for warning words about color fade.
Make an informed decision: Check the label for warning words about color fade. | Source

References:

Crews, Patricia Cox. Effectiveness of Dye Setting Treatments on Cotton Fabrics Dyed with Direct, Reactive, and Vat Dyes. Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, 7(4) Summer 1989, 1-7.

© 2015 C L Mitchell

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    • C L Mitchell profile image
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      C L Mitchell 3 weeks ago

      Hi Franci,

      Screen printing (where the graphic is printed directly onto the shirt) and iron on (where the graphic is ironed onto the shirt) are a different methods than dying materials, i.e. uses different chemicals/process.

      Consequently, ironing won't help crocking in dyed fabrics.

    • profile image

      franci 4 weeks ago

      I seem to recall once hearing that dyes used for screen prints on tee shirts could be set by ironing prior to washing. Is this true? And can this method help to crocking?

    • C L Mitchell profile image
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      C L Mitchell 4 weeks ago

      Hi JustAQuestion,

      I would suggest a very short/quick wash in cool water. As soon as it's finished, don't leave it sitting wet otherwise the colours will run. You should also dry it flat, as sometimes the water can run down and the colour can bleed. Cotton can sometimes shrink a bit in the wash (think about how your jeans are always a bit harder to get on once out of the wash), but it should relax/stretch back to shape shortly after wearing it.

    • profile image

      JustAQuestion 5 weeks ago

      I have this 100% white cotton sweater with a cool print on it and I was wondering how to wash it. I'm scared I might damage the print or shrink the sweater.

    • C L Mitchell profile image
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      C L Mitchell 5 weeks ago

      Hi Emma,

      What material are your pants made of?

    • profile image

      Emma 6 weeks ago

      Hi, I have a question about my pants every time i wore the color transfer to my purse or into my hands. I washed it many times but its still the same every time i wear. Please advice. Thanks.

    • C L Mitchell profile image
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      C L Mitchell 6 weeks ago

      Hi ELISA Nutku,

      Unfortunately linen is very prone to fading. For that reason you should really only wash with cold water using the gentle cycle setting. Dry them in the shade to avoid the sun bleaching them. This can be difficult when using linen as sheets since sheets usually need a good hot wash to get all of the body oils out of them and for sanitary reasons.

      Colour fixatives like Retayne, which I mention in my article above, work well with linens, so might be worth a try as it may extend the life of the colours.

    • profile image

      ELISA Nutku. 6 weeks ago

      Hello. I am hoping you can help with my gorgeous Italian linen sheets. I purchased them as a lovely natural warm color. Kind of beige but not. Also a darker toned pattern embossed onto the fabric. This has all but faded away as has the color of the sheets. Faded to a dirty white color. As they were horrifyingly expensive the company replaced them. The same has occurred. I only use a natural washing power with no bleach ever. I have another two sets of these sheets so am looking to prevent the fading. Kind regards. ELISA

    • C L Mitchell profile image
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      C L Mitchell 2 months ago

      Hi Christie Dengler,

      Rit dye fixative works on other brands of similar dyes too. But Retayne is the most popular product with quilters who, like yourself, are creating a mix of white and coloured panels. Joann's sell this product too (well its on their website) or on Amazon, see the link above.

    • profile image

      Christie Dengler 2 months ago

      Hello, I have a question that I haven't see anywhere. What is the best way to ensure colorfastness in black and white fabric? I'm beginning to make a duvet cover for my son and his new bride, using fat quarters in varying black and white patterns. The one thing I've seen everywhere, is to wash the colors separately. Ummm. cannot do that in this case.

      I looked at the Rit Fixative at Joann's, but it sounded like it was for fabric that had just been dyed with Rit dye, not commercially. So I asked the lady at the cutting table and she looked online and found something about a combination salt and vinegar bath. I was looking today to see how much for the amount of fabric I have and I'm seeing that the salt and vinegar won't work.

      Help! I really don't want to end up with a labor of love turning grey!

      Also, if the fixative is the best option, does it make a difference if it is Retayne or Rit Fixative?

      Thank you so much for your assistance!

    • C L Mitchell profile image
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      C L Mitchell 3 months ago

      Hi Cery,

      Unfortunately dark indigo denim is frequently poorly dyed and will constantly bleed no matter what. In fact I often see them sold with a label warning buyers that the product will transfer colour. You could try a really hot wash, but I'm not sure it will help any since you've already soaked it already and that should have removed the excess dye. The fact that it is still bleeding is a likely indicator that the dye process wasn't very good.

      The only other thing you could try is a colour fixative, which I refer to in my article above. It usually works well with denim fabrics.

    • profile image

      Cery 3 months ago

      I have a dark indigo denim and it is still bleeding after soaking for 3 days. You are right it felt very stiff.. How should i go about handling it to get rid of the excess dye? Would hot water do the job

    • C L Mitchell profile image
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      C L Mitchell 3 months ago

      Hi Danielleb92,

      What material is your bra made out of? If it is synthetic, it is likely to cope ok with a good soaking in some hot water without getting too faded. If its cotton, then you can try soaking it, but just be aware that it might lose some of its colour (probably the least of your troubles at this point). You can also try a colour fixative like retayne as mentioned in my article above. But this will only work well if it is cotton or some other natural material.

      This is obviously disappointing as a sports bra you would expect that they would have tested it under these conditions and be aware that it colour runs as you sweat. My only other suggestion if above doesn't help would be to buy a top in a similar colour to wear with it so it's not as obvious when it does run.

    • profile image

      Danielleb92 3 months ago

      Help! I have this dark pink sports bra that I wore under a white tank top to a gym class. When I got home I realized that the color from the bra had bled through onto my white tank from my sweating (it was a hot yoga class, so there was a lot of sweating). Thankfully, the dye came out of the white shirt but now I'm afraid to wash the bra or wear it again. Any fixes? I was going to soak it in some detergent in the sink to see if that would pull any of the "extra" color out? Thanks in advance!

    • C L Mitchell profile image
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      C L Mitchell 3 months ago

      Hi Velvet,

      What is your velvet material made of? (Synthetic or natural fibres like cotton, silk, wool?) What are the washing instructions on the label? And how have you washed it so far (you mentioned having washed it twice - what detergent did you use and water temperature?

      This info will help me advice you further.

    • profile image

      velvet 3 months ago

      I have a velvet dress that keeps bleeding on anything I wear underneath - do you recommend anything to stop the bleeding? I washed it twice already. Thanks.

    • C L Mitchell profile image
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      C L Mitchell 4 months ago

      Hi Kate,

      Being linen, it should respond well to a colour fixative like Retayne (mentioned in the article).

      As for your white dress, give it a good soaking in a strong mix of oxygen bleach and hopefully the red dye will come out of it.

    • profile image

      Kate 4 months ago

      I have a read linen dress I wear over a white dress when I took the red dress off the under white piece was stained red the dress also stained a gray leather bag but I copped it & got it off with wet wipes . Is there anyway I can stop this from happening as i love the dress

    • profile image

      Anita 4 months ago

      Thank you for your response! I did a test run so as not to frustrate or disappoint the kiddos. You are correct, it did not work. Thank you for the great article and answer

    • C L Mitchell profile image
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      C L Mitchell 4 months ago

      Hi Anita,

      That sounds like a lot of fun.

      Retayne works very well at fixing dye on cotton fabrics and many quilters use it to ensure to the dye is 'locked in' and doesn't bleed.

      However, the concern I have is about the kind of product you are using to dye the fabric. Colour fixatives only work well on Fibre Reactive Dye and Direct Dyes. It doesn't work on Basic Dyes - most synthetic food colours fall in this category. So I'm not so sure it would actually help in this case.

      Most quality dyes would not be safe to use in the game you are planning.

      As you wash them, the colour is likely to fade/wash out, but it will just depend on how the fabric takes to the dye products you are planning on using.

    • profile image

      Anita 4 months ago

      Hi! I realize you did this article some time ago, but perhaps still monitor for additional questions.

      My situation seems to be the opposite of those I see posted. Would like my tykes to wear white cotton t-shirts and have a watergun battle using watercolors as ammo. (appropriately protected with goggles, of course)

      How do I then set the dye so the watercolors don't just wash out when laundered? Will the Retayne you referenced protect their "art"? If so, I assume I use it after a truce is called?

      We are planning to make our own liquid watercolors using reconstituted dried-up markers and cakes of paint from dollar store color sets.

      Thanks for your input!

    • C L Mitchell profile image
      Author

      C L Mitchell 5 months ago

      Hi Jenny Robins,

      Good upholstery fabrics should crock very little. To find out more, look up the Association for Contract Textiles (ACT) Performance Guidelines which provides specifications for woven textiles. Their Wet & Dry Crocking guidelines (symbol looks like a silhouette of a painters palette) recommend dry crocking at a Grade 4 minimum and wet crocking at a Grade 3 minimum.

      It would be worth asking the supplier what the Wet & Dry Crocking rating is on this fabric. If it is less than the recommended minimum, then you will need to decide whether to return the couch. There is not a lot you can do to fix poorly dyed upholstery. There are colour fixatives that can be applied to the material (the Rit Color Stay Dye Fabric Fixative I mention in the article above comes in a easy spray bottle) but they all require you to rinse the product out, and as you mentioned, the the upholstery can't be removed, so this could be very difficult to do! Also, it will depend on what type of material the upholstery is, as colour fixatives don't tend to work well on polyesters.

      Another consideration - if you try to treat the material yourself, you could potentially void your warranty, so be cautious about that.

    • profile image

      Jenny Robins 5 months ago

      I have some new furniture (red floral on light green background) which is showing signs of 'Crocking'! As the upholstery is not removable is there anything I can spray it with to stop it crocking any further? the Manufacturers have offered to replace it but I would like to know if there is anything that can be done to stop it happening again.

    • C L Mitchell profile image
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      C L Mitchell 6 months ago

      Hi Kerry,

      I'm sorry that the oxygen bleach didn't work on your shorts. You could try using a specialised colour run remover like Dr Beckmann's 'Colour Run Remover' or Dylon's 'SOS Colour Run Remover'. However, the chlorine bleach often sets the stain/colour stain, so I'm not so sure if it will work now. Also, these products also don't always guarantee a success.

      Can you remove your car seat covers to soak them? If not, you could try using a liquid oxygen bleach that bubbles up. Leave it for a few minutes then try blotting it and do this several times to see if it makes any difference. Also, making the oxygen bleach powder into a paste and working it in and leaving it for 10 minutes before rinsing off.

    • profile image

      Kerry 6 months ago

      I had a blouse transfer color all over my white shorts and the back of my new cars driver seat. Is there anything I can do to remove it? I tried soaking the shorts in oxyclean overnight. That didn't work. Then I tried soaking them in a bleach solution overnight. That didn't work either. My big concern is how to remove it from my car seat. Any suggestions?

    • orionduzt14 profile image

      orionduzt14 6 months ago

      Thanks soo much! I appreciate your quick response as I was thinking about doing a load or trying to colorsetting them. So far I have been following all your guidelines (without knowing it) to the letter. My sister thinks it's gross to wear clothes multiple times without washing but it really does save colors and extend the life of certain clothes. But it was also good a good tip when hand washing not to overscrub rub or twist them. I tend to do that when I hand wash to either get a stain out from the kids sticky hands or to try to get as much water out as possible to speed up drying time.. but I just got a new washer that has a cycle, that allows me to throw them in.. inside out..and let them go for a gentle spin for a few min to get the water out without having to go thru a wash or rinse cycle.( so that fixes that)

      (As a side note you should totally try the Lularoe brand leggings - u can find consultants all over FB-they are incredibly soft and very flattering! I hated leggings and would not wear them out except as long underwear until my sister introduced me to this brand! But they're addicting since they are sooo comfy and so pretty! hahaha!)

      Thanks again for all your help and advice! I Am so glad I asked you before I did anything! You are incredibly knowledgeable in this area. All your advice is much appreciated!

    • C L Mitchell profile image
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      C L Mitchell 6 months ago

      Hi orionduzt14,

      I'm not familiar with the leggings, but they sound like they have lovely vibrant patterns and colours that you want to retain as long as possible.

      Unfortunately, because of the type of material they are, a colour fixative product is not going to work on your leggings. Instead, I suggest following the bullet points in my article.

      In summary, only wash the entire leggings when they really need it. Just wash the dirty bits between washes.

      When you do wash them, only give them a quick handwash (don't soak them) in cool water.

      Use a gentle product that's kind to colours. Your mum's use of woolite is a good idea because its a gentle detergent.

      When you do wash them, avoid scrubbing them or rubbing the material together. The abrasiveness will cause wear and tear which will cause fading.

      Dry them inside in the shade.

      Just a side note, general wear and tear from wearing them, especially out in the sun, will also fade them. I'm not suggesting never going out in them, but just pointing out that day to day wear also fades them.

    • orionduzt14 profile image

      orionduzt14 6 months ago

      My mom has color set with salt in cold water for 24hrs since Before I was born. And her mom did it before her.So I don't necessarily think it is a fad, as her clothes do stay darker longer without fading. She also uses woolite detergent for her darks after setting to help keep those darks stay dark.

      My question actually is about the popular Lularoe brand of leggings. They are made of 92% poly and 8% spandex. Instructions say to wash on gentle cylce (or by hand) inside out & separately, only with other lularoe products, in cold water, then hang to dry. Also, to only wash after multiple wears and when absolutely necessary. (My sister doesn't have time to do all of that with her side business her day job and 3 kids and so just washes them like normal clothes - but does put them inside out & hangs them dry- and they fade considerably) Most of mine are still fairly new and still bright and colorful and I don't want them to fade or lose that brightness (most of my patterns are dark in color but have that nice pop of bright in them as well or just bright in general) so u can understand my wanting to colorfast/colorset the dye. What do u recommend for this fabric? It can't be any type of harsh chemicals as they go thru a brushing technique to maske them super soft. I don't want to soak them in something that will break down the fibers or spandex. That's why I was actually hoping to do the salt mixture.. and thought hmm maybe vinegar is a new thing added over the years since my mom & grandma started colorfasting. So I have given u all the info I have.. in your opinion what would you do to keep my amazing bright/darker colored leggings their true color or as close to it for as long as possible? Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!! Thank you!

    • C L Mitchell profile image
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      C L Mitchell 6 months ago

      Hi LuaMaya,

      Thanks for reporting back on your results. I'm so glad to hear it worked. That's a great tip re: using a magic sponge on the rubber, I'll have to give that one a try myself. But yes, if anyone is reading this, best not to use it on the fabric parts as it's abrasiveness would likely break the fibres.

    • profile image

      LuaMaya 6 months ago

      I want to tell you that I tried the oxygen bleach and it worked amazingly! My hot pink converse are nearly like new! They are bright and clean - even the hot pink soles have had their color restored, and they were looking really dingy after tromping around in all that sand! I am SO happy that my favorite shoes have been restored!

      FYI: I used a generic version oxygen bleach as that is what was on hand. I used the oxygen bleach-to-water ratio recommended on the link you provided, and soaked the shoes for about two hours, then gently brushed away at the spots of dirt on the canvas with a very soft, clean (new) horse hair brush made for shoe polishing. I also did a once-over with a magic sponge on the soles before soaking them in the oxygen bleach. I think this helped to get off some of the grime. I was careful to avoid using the magic sponge on the canvas as I think it may have an undesirable effect. I don't know whether it would have been better to use it before or after the oxygen bleach soak. I do know that if the soles - or canvas - have any kind of pattern or design painted on them, the magic sponge would take it right off, so it's best to be careful. Thanks again!

    • C L Mitchell profile image
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      C L Mitchell 7 months ago

      Hi LuaMaya,

      Check the list of ingredients, a powder oxygen bleach should only contain sodium perborate, potassium monopersulfate or sodium percarbonate. If it has any additional ingredients I would steer clear of it, otherwise many of the brands are just the same thing, they just have a different brand name.

      I like seventh generation oxygen bleach just because I know they don't add anything extra.

      I have never heard of it causing any problems with canvas fabrics, in fact campers and boaters recommend it for cleaning canvases.

    • profile image

      LuaMaya 7 months ago

      One more question about treating the pink canvas shoes: Would Oxi-clean or Oxy-Strong do the trick for the oxygen bleach? I have been on a lot of different sites researching this and some said using Oxi-clean would perhaps damage the integrity of the canvas. So I'm wondering if this is true for only the Oxi-clean brand, and it is better to specifically use the one from Seventh Generation that you have recommended, or are all oxygen-based bleaches OK?

    • profile image

      LuaMaya 7 months ago

      Thanks so much for the advice! I will follow your instructions carefully. Luckily the soles are the same color as the canvas!

    • C L Mitchell profile image
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      C L Mitchell 7 months ago

      Hi LuaMaya,

      My favourite way to remove stains is using oxygen bleach, don't worry it is completely color safe, safe to use and environmentally friendly - don't get this product confused with chlorine bleach which you definitely don't want to use! Read more about how to use it in this article (scroll down to point 8)

      https://hubpages.com/living/10-Ways-to-Whiten-and-...

      For stubborn stains you may need to use it in conjunction with an enzyme based detergent as well, learn more here http://hubpages.com/cleaning/Biological-or-Non-Bio...

      I would just use a very soft brush and wash them by hand in a tub or bucket.

      If you do find that the colour eventually fades too much, you can always redye them! If the sole is the same colour as the material, then you can just use normal clothing dye following the directions on the packet and dye them in a bucket. However, I'm going to guess that they are probably pink canvas uppers with a white rubber sole? If that's the case, then you need to cover the soles and non-pink canvas parts of your shoes with painters tape to protect these areas. Then buy a fabric spray paint (just google it) in the colour you want and spray dye them.

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      LuaMaya 7 months ago

      Hi, I've really enjoyed this article! I was wondering if you could give me some advice on canvas shoes. I recently bought a glorious pair of hot pink converse, then went on vacation to the coast. Walking on a beach path one day, the sand was very soft and my shoes got submerged and covered in "beach dust" and dirt. I tried spot cleaning as recommended for these types of shoes, but they need a lot more attention as the entire shoe is just dingy now. I have some ideas on how to clean the shoes, but would like an expert's advice as I want to preserve the color as much as possible. I'm thinking of soaking them in cool or lukewarm water with a mild detergent and using perhaps a soft brush or silk cloth to gently clean them? I was going to try the salt trick, but apparently this is not a real thing! ;) I also am thinking maybe a natural detergent would not be the best as these don't have the protective agents that some chemical detergents have? I look forward to hearing from you and thanks in advance for your advice!

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      C L Mitchell 7 months ago

      Hi Jess,

      Most of the Rit dyes require you to use salt during the dying process to set the dye - did you remember to add it in?

      The type of material that you carpet is made from will also affect whether it takes the dye. i.e. polyester and acrylic don't accept dyes.

      Also, did you rinse it several times to remove the excess dye?

      A final option would be to try a dye fixative (which I mention in my above article). But these only really work on natural fibres, so it will depend on the type of fibre that your carpet is made from as to whether it will work.

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      jess 7 months ago

      Hello, I just finished dyeing my carpet in my camper and it seems to be bleeding a little. I used vinegar in the dye to help set it. do you know how I can help this? I used Rit dye.

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      C L Mitchell 7 months ago

      Hi Marcia Putnam,

      You need to be careful with satin, you can't use hot water as that can shrink the material. Unfortunately colour fixatives that I mention in the above article does not tend to work very well with this material.

      I would suggest soaking the PJ's in some lukewarm water for 10 minutes to try and get the excess dye out, and then put it through a gentle cycle. The good thing with satin is that it usually holds it colour quite well after soaking.

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      Marcia Putnam 8 months ago

      I have a very red satin pj that stains my sheets. It transferred less color after washing and didn't seem faded. Should I just keep washing it?

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      C L Mitchell 8 months ago

      Hi Sylvia, have you tried putting the sheets through a hot wash to remove the excess dye? If they are still bleeding colour then you could try a color fixative like retayne which I mention in my article above. It works well with cotton.

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      Sylvia 8 months ago

      I bought some dark blue sheets and the dye rubbed off on my hands and face and feet while I was sleeping. What do you recommend to make the dye set or stop bleeding?

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      C L Mitchell 8 months ago

      Thanks for leaving your comment Mary Isaac. I'm really glad you were able to save your dress!

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      mary isaac (kenya) 8 months ago

      This article actually guided me through and i managed to salvage my new dress white n purple dress from color bleed....

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      C L Mitchell 9 months ago

      Hi Bree,

      Colour fixatives like Retayne which I mention in my article above actually work best on cottons. So it is definitely worth trying on your colourful Indian cotton clothing.

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      Bree 9 months ago

      What is the best way to set the dyes in colourful Indian cotton clothing? What is the best way to wash colourful Indian cotton clothing after setting the dye?

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      C L Mitchell 9 months ago

      Hi Tammy,

      That black jacket sounds like it has been poorly dyed. It sounds like you've already washed it several times already, but have you tried washing it in really hot water? This will ensure that any excess dye is removed. If you have already tried this and it didn't work, then there is likely to have been a problem with the dying process.

      Unfortunately dye fixatives don't tend to work very well on polyester.

      You could try soaking it in hot water to get as much of the old dye out and then re-dying it. But you would need to ensure you used dye specially designed for polyesters (google it).

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      Tammy 9 months ago

      My daughter purchased a black jacket (polyester/spandex) and has had several pieces of clothing ruined because the black is fading on not only her clothing underneath but it has also ended up on her skin. She absolutely loves this jacket, but decided to stay away from it as it has ruined several pieces. Looks like she should have just thrown it away because the last time she wore it, she folded it and put it in her dresser (after laundering of course :) and when cleaning out her dresser the other day, she realized that once again it ruined yet another "good" shirt.. simply from sitting on top of the shirt.. any solutions other than to throw it away?

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      Deejar 9 months ago

      Thank you.

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      C L Mitchell 9 months ago

      Hi Deejar,

      Yes, you would expect good upholstery fabrics to crock very little. Look up the Association for Contract Textiles (ACT) Performance Guidelines which provides specifications of woven textiles. Their Wet & Dry Crocking guidelines (symbol looks like a silhouette of a painters palette) recommend dry crocking at a Grade 4 minimum and wet crocking at a Grade 3 minimum.

      There are good quality upholstery fabrics available that come with a rating of 4-5 for both dry and wet crocking /rubbing. So before purchasing your material, ask the supplier about the ACT performance of the material.

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      Deejar 9 months ago

      I was about to buy some upholstery fabric to recover a comfortable chair & ottoman, but the store's site says fabric may crock. I had never heard of crocking before. Your information is very helpful, but I obviously can't wash 15 yards of fabric before using (and it's dry clean only), so I'm wondering if you have any thoughts about what to do. I can't believe a reputable store would sell upholstery fabric that is going to rub off on clothes. Thank you.

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      C L Mitchell 9 months ago

      Jeanne - how long have you had them for? Have you washed them yet? If not, give them a good wash in some cool water about 30C or 86F. If they are still running, you could try buying some colour fixative like Retayne which I mention in the above article. However, I've not found colour run to be such a big problem in gym gear, so I worry that if this does not help, there might be a problem with way that they have been dyed which is causing the dye to leach out.

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      Jeanne 9 months ago

      I purchased some "Tangerine" brand yoga pants and jackets (black and navy) at Sam's Club. They have leached color onto French shellac fingernails, light colored leather purse and beige underwear. Anything you can suggest or should I just return them all?

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      C L Mitchell 9 months ago

      Hi Brianna,

      I sympathise with you as I've been there! Some fabrics have been poorly dyed and no matter how careful you are, they just leach colour.

      Unfortunately the only way to get the colour back on your faded pillow is to redye it, however, as you've said - it has white branch designs on it, so it wouldn't really work.

      For your other pillows, you could try using a colour fixative like Retayne which I mention in my article.

      Also something to consider - are the pillows sitting in direct sunlight? Not sure where you live, but if its somewhere with strong sun, then this can speed up the fading. I lived in Australia for many years and I had to be careful of this.

      You should also try to reduce washing them unless absolutely necessary and when doing so use cold water (which I noted you did try anyway) and keep the wash to a quick cycle. Don't leave them to soak.

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      Brianna 9 months ago

      I have a really nice pillow that's purple with white branch designs on it and after a few weeks it turned pink and faded! I've tried washing it on cold but nothing happened. I'm worried my other brand new pillows will fade too. What can I do to prevent them from fading and maybe restore my other pillow to its original look?

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      C L Mitchell 9 months ago

      Hi Donkeyhody,

      for example: Crews, Patricia Cox. Effectiveness of Dye Setting Treatments on Cotton Fabrics Dyed with Direct, Reactive, and Vat Dyes. Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, 7(4) Summer 1989, 1-7.

      There is other research which you can find by googling it.

      Also, if you speak to people who work in the textiles industry (which I have) who know about the chemistry involved in fabric dyes, they will also advise you that there is no scientific reason or evidence that vinegar sets dye. In fact in some dyes it can actually cause it to cause colour loss.

      Vinegar is a good fabric softener alternative though.

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      donkeyhodey 9 months ago

      I don't agree with you about vinegar not setting the color in cotton such as cotton towels or in denim. I've been using that technique for decades and also have experimented with and without using it. The vinegar treated towels by far hold there color and brightness much better than the ones not treated with vinegar. I am wondering what scientific analysis did you use to back up your statements.

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      C L Mitchell 10 months ago

      Unfortunately material can still have a lot of unattached particles of dye, causing crocking (colour transfer). Washing it in a hot wash (as long as the material can take it, check the label) will help remove these unattached dye particles. You could even try using the product I recommend in the article above - Retayne.

      Can you remove the pillow cover to wash it? If not, will the pillow fit in the washing machine? Alternatively you could try washing in the bath if you have one (try standing on it to help squeeze out the water).

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      J. Evans 10 months ago

      I bought my husband a bed back rest pillow in a material that looks sort of like dark brown leather but is actually polyester cloth. It is transferring some of the brown dye onto our cotton sheets! Is there a spray I could use to keep this transfer from happening?

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      C L Mitchell 10 months ago

      Yes, vinegar is not going to prevent the dye running, so not much point in doing this. Unnecessary soaking could cause a lot of dye to leach out of the fabrics which would be a shame as this could make them appear duller and I can imagine your Indian fabrics are beautifully vibrant.

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      sharon 10 months ago

      I have just come back from India.while there i was told to soak the clothes in vinegar before washing them in cold water. But now i see posts online that says that doesn't work.

      I don't want to ruin the clothes before i even wear them. They are lovely tunics and pants, and shawls. some cotton some looser weave and very thin.

      stretchy legging type bottoms.

      thank you for your advice. Can't wait to wear my treasures.

    • C L Mitchell profile image
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      C L Mitchell 11 months ago

      If the sole is the same colour as the material, then you can just use normal clothing dye following the directions on the packet using a bucket. However, I'm going to guess that they are probably blue canvas uppers with a white rubber sole? If that's the case then your going to need to cover all of the non blue canvas parts of your shoes with painters tape to protect this area. Then buy a fabric spray paint (just google it) in the colour you want and spray them.

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      Talha Malik 11 months ago

      Hi. I have bought blue canvas shoes . they have blue fabric on them . its been 3 months and there colour has started to fade . they have become very light blue now and look bad because of that. please tell me how i can make them dark blue again

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      C L Mitchell 11 months ago

      C Midgley - I should also have added a warning about being careful during the drying process. When you take the pillow covers out of the tub after handwashing them, gently squeeze out excess water by hand and then place them onto some old clean white towels (that you don't mind if they get some colour transfer onto them). Place toweling either side of the pillow case and then roll it up like a swiss roll (so the material is pressed up against the towel, not against itself). Then squeeze out the water more - I usually stand on it! Then unroll them and lay them out flat on a dry old white towel to dry. Don't hang them on the line otherwise the colour may bleed down the pillow case. Hope this makes sense.

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      C L Mitchell 11 months ago

      What kind of material are they made from? Can you remove the covers and wash them separately? I would suggest that you wash them by hand in cold water and don't leave them soaking - only give then a very quick hand wash. You could also try the product I suggest above - Retayne. It's a colour fixative.

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      C Midgley 11 months ago

      I have two pillows from Pier One and I need to clean them. The dry cleaner wouldn't do it because he said they would bleed. They are bright orange and pinks. I don't mind trying myself, I just don't want to ruin them. Any suggestions?

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      C L Mitchell 12 months ago

      Thanks for that Torr.

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      Torr 12 months ago

      Found a grammar mistake. In the bullet point below the Febreze advertisement, it should be "you're" not "your".

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      C L Mitchell 12 months ago

      Try using Retayne colour fixative (product link in the article above). It's popular with quilters as it helps to prevent colour bleed between the fabrics.

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      Sarah Carlisle 12 months ago

      I have just finished making a quilt. I got s stain on it and tried removing it, and discovered the purple patch is bleeding on to the cream patch. Can I do anything to set the dye, before giving the quilt to my granddaughter?

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      C L Mitchell 12 months ago

      Hi Linda, sorry for my slow response, I've been on holiday. For best results you'll need to bleach the colour out of them first. Fill a bucket with hot water and about 4 cups of bleach (be careful of the bleach steam fumes and use gloves). Place your jeans in there for about 30minutes. Depending on how dark your jeans are to start with, you may need to dump the water and repeat this process. Then finally, give them a good wash before commencing the dying process.

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      Linda 13 months ago

      Hello, I am wondering if I can dye my blue jeans another colour? I am hoping to create a plum colour for a pair of denim jeans that are a medium blue. I wonder if I would need to find a pair of light coloured denim to do this with if it is possible. Thank you for your time if you have it.