Why Are Your Black Clothes Turning Red?

Black clothes turning red is a common laundry mishap. There are several potential causes for this discoloration:

Bleaching Agents

The most common reason black fabrics turn red is exposure to bleaching agents. Bleach strips the black dye, revealing the underlying red or blue dye used to color the clothing. This results in splotchy red or orange discoloration on the garments.

Sources of bleaching agents include laundry detergent, household cleaners, acne medication, cosmetics, hair products, and even sunlight.

Video: How to keep black clothes from fading in wash

Dye Transfer

Another culprit is dye transfer or bleeding from a red garment washing with the black clothes. Red dyes tend to be less colorfast, so they can leach out of fabrics and be deposited onto other items. This causes uniform red staining rather than splotchy discoloration.

Improper Washing

Using very hot water and harsh detergents when washing can strip dye from fabrics faster. Insufficient rinsing may leave excess loose dye in clothing that later bleeds out onto other garments. Overloading washers can prevent proper agitation needed to rinse out detergents and dyes.

Preventing Black Clothes From Turning Red

Here are some tips to stop your black clothes from turning red:

Separate Laundry

Wash black and dark garments separately from light colors. This prevents dye transfer between clothing. Also wash new black clothing separately the first few times.

Wash in Cold Water

Use the coldest water setting safe for that fabric type. Cold water helps dyes stay put in fabrics. Adding 1⁄2 cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle also helps set dyes.

Line Dry

Line drying instead of machine drying can prevent damage from heat exposure that causes fading. For best results, dry black clothes inside out.

Check Labels

Avoid using chlorine bleach on black clothes, and don’t use bleach on unknown fabrics. Always check clothing labels for proper washing instructions.

Restoring Faded Black Clothes

If your black clothes have already faded or turned red, try re-dyeing them black to revive the color. Test dye on a small hidden area first to ensure proper color results before dyeing the entire garment. With some care when washing, you can keep your black wardrobe looking dark and vibrant.

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