How to Know if Clothes Will Bleed
Whether you’re washing a new item of clothing, or a vintage piece that’s been in the closet for years, the last thing you want to do is ruin it with a bad dye job. Knowing how to identify clothing that may bleed, and take preventative action, will save you a lot of heartache, and some money. Here’s are a few tips to help you figure this out.
Check the Fabric’s Composition
The type of fabric makes a big difference in determining whether an item of clothing might bleed in the wash. Look on the label for a composition description, or do a quick scan on the web if the label is missing.
- Cotton is usually safe since it has a tighter weave. Colors in cotton fabric are less likely to fade or bleed.
- Linen tends to retain more dye and can have a tendency to fade or bleed in the wash. If linen is a blend, it’s more likely to hold color.
- Synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon also tend to hold color more tightly than natural materials. This makes them a safer bet for fabrics that are bright or deep.
- Silk is a delicate fabric and therefore more prone to bleeding. Lightly tinted or dyed silk is comparatively safer, but there is always a risk of color bleeding or fading even with the lightest dyes.
Test for Colorfastness
If you’re still uncertain about whether a garment might bleed, you can do a simple colorfastness test. All you’ll need is a white cloth and some water.
- Lay a white cloth on top of the item of clothing and lightly dampen the cloth with lukewarm water.
- Rub the damp cloth between your fingers and gently release the pressure and check the cloth for any signs of color.
- If you notice color, this means that the garment is likely to bleed when it’s washed. If no color rubs off, the item should be safe.
If your colorfastness test has revealed that an item might bleed, you can still reduce the risks of the dye running. You’ll need to pre-soak the garment using 1 teaspoon of mild detergent in cold water for about 15 minutes. Carefully remove the item from the water and rinse it in cold water. Repeat this process a few times until there’s no more evidence of color in the rinse water.
Check the Laundry Advice
It’s also important not to ignore the garment’s laundry advice. Many items are clearly labelled with warnings to launder a certain way. Typically, these will indicate that a garment should be hand-washed in cold water or dry-cleaned.
Following these simple tips can help prevent your clothes from bleeding or fading, and keep them looking their best for longer.