How to Wash Colored Clothes: A Beginners Guide

Eye-popping colors, deep blue denim, and jet-black basics—colored clothes pack a punch when it comes to curating a smart and sophisticated wardrobe. Maintaining your closet favorites so they keep their intense pigments includes cleaning them with care. 

If you want to know how to wash colored clothes so they stay as vibrant as the day you brought them home, then you’re in the right place. 


Washing Colored Clothes In 4 Easy Steps

When you buy a bright and beautiful new blouse in verdant green or sapphire blue, you’ll want to make sure its bold color lasts through endless wash cycles. So, what’s the secret to washing colored clothes? 

While silk and wool are no-brainers when it comes to delicate cleaning, you might not know that taking extra care when washing your colored garments is a must to keep them looking sharp. Soapy suds can slowly strip away and dull bright colors when not cleaned properly, and harsh chemicals and high heat can also negatively affect your colors. It's also important to test and determine whether liquid vs powder detergent works best for you and your washing machine. 

Follow these laundry best practices for colorfast cleaning of your favorite all black basics or bold brights. 


Step 1 – Check The Care Label

If you’re unsure whether your linen-blend blazer needs a dry cleaner, or if you can put your striped poplin pajamas in the dryer, the first order of business is checking the label for manufacturer recommendations. Delicate material and unique hardware will factor into suggested wash conditions on the care tags. 

If your garment doesn’t have a care tag, use your best judgment and err on the side of caution when it comes to cleaning and care.


Step 2 – Sort & Separate

There’s a well-known laundry tip to avoid mixing whites and colored garments in the same load. 

To keep your white clothes white and bright and your colors vibrant, wash them separately.  Dark clothes in black, red, and navy are better off being washed on their own as well due to the potential for color bleed. Divide your laundry by color and fabric care type, keeping like garments together. 

Laundry baskets with multiple compartments make sorting by color and type easier, so you don’t have to dig through a mound of dirty clothes every time you put in a wash load. 


Step 3 – Wash & Rinse

Launder your clothes with colored fabric in cool water temperature or warm water, avoiding hot temperatures that will break down colors faster or cause color bleed. Use a small amount of gentle, plant-based liquid detergent free of harsh chemicals, like our Charcoal Rose Laundry Detergent, which won’t destroy fibers as quickly as conventional detergents. Worried about how to get detergent stains out of clothes? Make sure your washing machine gets a regular cleaning to avoid detergent stains and other residue that fades colors. 


Step 4 – Dry With Care

Just like with the wash cycle, avoid high temperatures that can break down fibers as they tumble in the dryer drum, and always use a low temperature when drying colored clothing. Disposable dryer sheets can leave a film and change the feel of certain fabrics, so try switching to wool dryer balls if you need help with static cling. For delicate items, hanging to dry is the safest way to ensure you avoid any damage to the color and fabric in the drying process. 


Quick Tips & Tricks For Washing Colored Clothes

Keep colors saturated and dark colored clothes inky with these tips on how to wash colors to help prevent color loss and fading:1

  • Test new garments for colorfastness 
  • Turn your clothes inside out before washing
  • Use liquid detergent
  • Don’t wash in hot water
  • Never apply chlorine bleach directly to colored clothing
  • Try washing clothes less frequently 
  • Use a spot cleaner on delicate fabrics
  • Air dry or use a low temperature in the dryer

All the same rules apply when it comes to other fabric household items, as well. Bed linens, table cloths, and curtains in deep, saturated hues will all benefit from colored wash care. 


How To Get Stains Out Of Colored Clothes

Spilling red wine on your outfit doesn’t have to ruin your night—you can easily manage tough stains on colored clothes by being proactive. With the right care, you’ll lift the stain right out without harming the garment’s color. 

For unexpected or stubborn stains, try using a white vinegar solution or a gentle spot cleaner such as our Fragrance-Free Laundry Spot Cleaner to tackle tough spots without destroying colors or fibers. Keep in mind that most machine-washable clothing is easiest to spot clean while wet, and that once dry, the stain will become more difficult to remove. 


Keep Your Clothes Clean And Bright With Archipelago

You don’t need harsh chemicals for fresh, colorfast laundry that stays vibrant and beautiful. Choosing plant-based laundry detergent vs regular detergent in fresh, inspiring scents can give you a complete clean, naturally. 

At Archipelago, our collection of laundry products like laundry detergent and spot cleaner utilize bio-based surfactants and invigorating scents, so you can safely enjoy the sparkling clean of your laundry and your home. 


  1. American Cleaning Institute. Laundering Problems and Solutions.
  2. How Stuff Works. How to Wash Dark Clothes Without Fading.
  3. The Spruce. Top Tips to Prevent Colors from Fading.