Can You Really Wash Whites with Colors? Here's What You Need to Know

Can You Really Wash Whites with Colors? Here's What You Need to Know

Have you ever wondered if you can wash your whites and colors together? I know I have. It can be a hassle to separate your laundry into different loads, and sometimes you just don’t have enough clothes to justify a full load of whites or colors.

But is it safe to mix them?

Well, the answer is not a simple yes or no. It depends on a few factors, such as the type of fabric, the colors involved, and the washing temperature.

Washing whites and colors together can save time and water, but it can also lead to color bleeding and dingy whites.

In this post, I will explore the pros and cons of washing whites and colors together and provide some tips on how to do it safely.

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Check for colorfastness

colored fabric

When it comes to washing clothes in mixed loads, one of the biggest concerns is color transfer.

Nobody wants to end up with a pink shirt or a gray pair of socks after washing them with other colors. This is where colorfastness comes in.

Colorfastness refers to the ability of a fabric to retain its color even after multiple washes.

If a fabric is colorfast, its colors and dyes will not bleed or run from the clothing.

On the other hand, if a fabric is not colorfast, its colors will bleed or run when the garment is washed.

How to check for colorfastness

Try this little trick.

Run a white cloth along the inside of a garment. If any color transfers onto the cloth, then it is not colorfast. If the cloth remains white then it is fine to mix with white clothing.

It’s also important to note that certain fabrics are more prone to color transfer than others.

For example, cotton and linen are more likely to bleed than synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon.

So, if you’re washing a cotton shirt with a polyester skirt, you’re less likely to have any issues with color transfer.

Sorting your laundry

pile of laundry

When it comes to laundry, sorting your clothes is essential to keep them looking their best. But do you really need to separate whites and colors?

It depends on a few factors:

  • First, consider the colors of your clothes. If you have a lot of bright or dark colors, it’s best to separate them from your whites to prevent any bleeding or fading. If you mostly have pastels or light colors, you can probably get away with washing them with your whites.
  • Another factor to consider is the type of fabric. Delicate fabrics like silk or wool should always be washed separately from your other clothes to prevent damage. And if you have clothes with special care instructions, like “dry-clean only,” be sure to follow those guidelines.

One way to simplify the sorting process is to divide your clothes into three piles: whites, lights, and darks.

This is a common method recommended by experts, and it’s easy to remember.

Just be sure to check the care label on each item to make sure you’re washing it correctly.

If you’re still not sure whether to separate your whites and colors, consider doing a test run with a small load of laundry.

Wash a few white items with a couple of colored items and see how they come out. If there’s no bleeding or discoloration, you can probably wash your whites and colors together.

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Choosing the right detergent

laundry detergents

When it comes to washing whites with colors, choosing the right detergent is crucial.

You want to make sure that your whites stay bright, and your colors don’t bleed or fade.

Here are a few tips for choosing the right detergent:

  • If you’re washing whites with colors, choose a detergent that contains bleach alternatives and enzymes. These ingredients can help to remove stains and keep your whites looking bright.
  • Consider using a laundry booster, such as baking soda or distilled white vinegar, to help brighten your whites and prevent color bleeding. Simply add a cup of baking soda or vinegar to your wash cycle along with your detergent.

It’s also important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using detergent. Using too much can actually make your clothes dirtier by leaving behind a residue that attracts dirt and grime.

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Choosing the washing temperature

choosing the washing temperature on a washing machine

Another thing to keep in mind is the water temperature. Hot water can cause colors to bleed, so it’s best to use cold water when washing whites and colors together.

If your whites have a lot of staining, they will need a longer, hotter wash, which can fade and even damage colored clothing over time. So, in that case, it is best to separate them.

Always wash new clothes on their own in cold water for the first few washes to prevent any dye bleeding.

Can you wash whites and colors together in a cold wash?

Sadly not! In my quest to save energy, I have tried washing whites and colors together, hoping that the cold water would stop my whites from going gray, but this wasn’t the case.

Wrapping up

Washing whites with colors is possible, but it requires some precautions.

  • Sort your laundry properly. Delicates and new clothes should always be washed separately in cold water. If you are washing a load of colorfast items with your whites, you can proceed as you would with any other white load. But if you’re washing a load of white garments that contain spandex or have mixed color patterns, you’ll need to treat them as colors, meaning no bleach.
  • Temperature matters. It is recommended to wash your white clothes at a higher temperature to ensure they get clean and stay bright. But if you wash your colorful clothes at the same temperature, their colors might bleed and transfer onto your whites.
  • Choose the right detergent. It is important to use the right type of detergent. Using a color-safe detergent can help prevent colors from bleeding onto your whites.
  • Check care labels. It is important to pay attention to the care labels on your clothing. Some clothing may require special care and cannot be washed with other items.
Sparkling Penny

Penny | Sparkling Penny

Penny’s expert cleaning advice has been featured repeatedly by Homes and Gardens Magazine, and also at wikiHow, The Daily Express Newspaper, and Glam Magazine to name a few! was founded in 2019 and has since helped millions of people achieve a cleaner living space.

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Discover the truth about washing whites with colors! Learn the dos and don'ts of laundry to keep your clothes looking fresh and vibrant.