How To Wash Black Clothes By Hand

How To Wash Black Clothes By Hand

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I’m often hesitant to buy black clothes, because I always worry they won’t last long. Really black clothes look great, but when they fade (even a little) they can appear dull and worn.

When it comes to preserving the color and fabric quality of black clothing, handwashing is usually the best method, and the safest. You don’t have to worry about damage or unintentional fading.

The process I walk you through today, involves a few simple steps, including using the best water temperature, selecting a mild detergent, and properly rinsing and drying your clothes.

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Why wash black clothes by hand?

black clothing

Frequent machine-washing can unfortunately cause the color of your garments to fade, whether your clothes are black or any other deep color. By handwashing your black clothes, you can minimize the wear and tear they experience during the cleaning process. This helps keep your garments looking newer and fresher for longer.

Another advantage of handwashing is that it can reduce the risk of dye transfer. Mixing dark and light-colored clothes in a washing machine often results in color bleeding, which may leave your light-colored clothes with undesirable stains. Handwashing your black clothes separately from lighter ones ensures that no dye transfer occurs, and your clothes retain their original hues.

Handwashing is also especially useful for delicate fabrics like wool and silk, which can be damaged by the aggressive action of washing machines. Delicate fabrics deserve some extra care, as they are more susceptible to damage, such as shrinking or stretching.

Handwashing ensures that the fibers in these fabrics are treated gently, preserving their texture and durability.

Preparing your black clothes for washing

To begin, always check the care label on each garment to ensure they are hand-washable or machine washable.

Next, it’s a good idea to turn your garments inside out. This will minimize the amount of wear and tear on the surface of the fabric, helping to maintain the garment’s color and appearance. Plus, it allows the detergent to work directly on the dirt and sweat that accumulate on the inside of the clothing.

The best detergent for black clothes


Liquid detergent is usually the best choice over a powder detergent. Liquid detergents tend to dissolve better in water, which ensures your clothes are evenly cleaned. Plus, they are less likely to leave residue or cause discoloration. They also don’t contain bleach, which you will definitely want to avoid for your blacks!

Consider opting for a detergent specifically designed for dark clothes. Dark fabric detergents are formulated to minimize color fading and bleeding while maintaining the vibrancy of your garments.

Many brands offer dark fabric detergents. Dreft for Darks, and Black and Woolite for Darks excellent.

Woolite Darks Defense Liquid Laundry Detergent, 33 Loads, 50 Fl Oz & Woolite Damage Defense Laundry Detergent, 33 Loads, 50 Fl Oz Bundle, Regular & HE Washers, Packaging May Vary
Woolite Darks Defense Liquid Laundry Detergent, 33 Loads, 50 Fl Oz & Woolite Damage Defense Laundry Detergent, 33 Loads, 50 Fl Oz Bundle, Regular & HE Washers, Packaging May Vary

Regardless of the detergent type you choose, don’t use too much! Using too much detergent can cause excessive color fading.

Steps to handwash black clothes

Washing black clothes by hand can help maintain their color and fabric quality.

Follow these simple steps to ensure your dark garments remain in great condition:

  1. Preparation: Find a clean basin or sink to use for washing your black clothes. In a pinch, a large bucket can also work. Fill the basin with cool water. Make sure it’s not hot, as it can cause color fading. Adequate water temperature would be around 30°C (86°F) or less.
  2. Add a gentle detergent: Pour a small amount of mild, color-safe detergent into the water such as Deft for Darks & Black or Woolite for Darks. This type of detergent will help protect the color and fabric of your black clothes. dreft for darks and black
  3. Swish to mix: Gently swish your hand around in the water to mix the detergent. The water should become slightly soapy.
  4. Soak your clothes: Place your black garments into the water. Make sure they are fully submerged. Allow them to soak for 10-15 minutes, giving the detergent time to work on any dirt or stains. black clothing in the sink
  5. Swish your clothes: Carefully swish the clothes around in the soapy water to help loosen any dirt. Be gentle to avoid causing any damage or stretching.
  6. Rinse: Empty the soapy water from the basin and fill it with fresh, cool water. Place the clothes back in, and swish them around to rinse out the soap. You may need to repeat this process a few times to ensure all detergent has been rinsed out.
  7. Remove excess water: Gently squeeze the clothes to remove excess water.
  8. Air dry: The best way to dry your black clothes is to air dry them away from direct sunlight. This will help protect the color and prevent shrinking. Here are some more tips.

Tips for removing stains from black clothes

The best time to treat stains is before the wash.

For common stains like food or drink spills, you’ll need a laundry stain remover or some gentle liquid detergent. I love the stain remover bars such as Vanish or Astonish Stain Remover Soap Bar. The bars make it very easy to apply. Stains usually come away with a gentle rub, or in the wash afterwards.

Spotless Punch Ltd Vanish Stain Remover Bar 75g
Spotless Punch Ltd Vanish Stain Remover Bar 75g

Apply a small amount of the stain remover to the affected area and, using your fingertips, gently work the solution into the stain.

Avoid scrubbing, as it may damage the fabric or spread the stain.

Here are some basic guidelines for handling specific stains:

  • Blood: Immediately sponge a wet bloodstain with cold water. Soak the garment in cold water, then hand wash. For dried stains, pre-treat or soak the clothing in warm water with an enzyme-based detergent before washing.
  • Grease or oil: Apply a liquid detergent or laundry stain remover directly to the area and gently work it in. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before washing.
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Tips for drying black clothes

Here are my best tips for getting your black clothes dry superfast:

  1. Avoid tumble dryers as this can cause lint deposits which show up a lot more on dark clothing.
  2. Add a half cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse water to make your clothes softer as they dry (this also helps to seal in dark colors).
  3. To speed up drying time, roll up your garment inside a dry towel and then twist.
  4. Dry delicate black clothing flat.
  5. When line drying, choose a shady spot and turn clothes inside out to prevent fading.
  6. Hang jeans from the bottom to dry them quicker. Because it’s often the top of the jeans that take longer to dry.
  7. Avoid hanging clothes over radiators as that can cause damage to your clothes, and raise your heating bill too.

Related reading:

My top tips for black clothing care

laundry care

Here are some tips for preserving your dark clothing:

  1. Don’t wash too much!: Avoid washing your black clothing until absolutely necessary. The less you wash a black garment, the longer it will last and maintain its deep color. Here’s how to keep your black jeans looking good without actually washing them.
  2. Avoid bleach: Always avoid using bleach when washing black clothing, as it can cause the color to fade or become discolored. Opt for a gentle, color-safe detergent, specifically designed to protect dark colors.
  3. Avoid hot water: Hot water can damage delicate fabrics and cause colors to fade. To keep your black clothes looking fresh and vibrant, always use cool or lukewarm water when handwashing. This will help maintain the color and integrity of the fabric.
  4. Skip the tumble dryer: Putting black clothes in the tumble dryer can cause them to shrink, fade, or become damaged. Avoid direct sunlight when air-drying to prevent color fading.
  5. Switch out fabric softener for vinegar: Using fabric softener on dark clothing might seem like a good idea, but it can actually cause buildup and dull the color. A great alternative is to add distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle instead. This naturally softens the fibers and helps to seal in color.
  6. Some fabrics will fade more. Check the fabric of your black clothing before you buy. Generally, if there are some man-made fibers included, then fading will be less. 100% cotton will fade a lot more. Next Online do some men’s ‘Forever Black’ jeans. I bought these for my son, and I’m very glad to report that they have stayed black after about six months of almost constant wear and washing.

What to do if your black clothing has already faded

faded black jacket

If your black jeans or top has already faded, there is no need to throw it away! You can actually dye it back to its former glory, and it’s easier than you think.

This dye by Dylon works in your washing machine. You can use one sachet for several items, so I recommend saving up a few things to do all at once.

Dylon Wash & Dye Fabric Dye Velvet Black
Dylon Wash & Dye Fabric Dye Velvet Black

Frequently asked questions

What is the best detergent for washing black clothes by hand?

Using a detergent specially formulated for dark colors can help preserve the appearance of your black clothes. Many of these detergents contain ingredients that minimize color fading and bleeding, ensuring your garments stay vibrant. A popular one is Woolite for Darks.

Should I turn black clothes inside out before handwashing?

Yes, it is a good practice to turn black clothes inside out before handwashing. This protects the outer fabric from friction, which can lead to fading and damage. It also ensures that any buildup of dirt, sweat, or deodorant on the inside of the garment is thoroughly cleaned away.

What is the ideal water temperature for handwashing black clothes?

The ideal water temperature for handwashing black clothes is 30°C (86°F). Using cool washing water helps prevent color fading and bleeding while still providing an effective clean. However, always check the care label on each garment for specific temperature guidelines as some fabrics may have different requirements.

How can I dry hand washed black clothes quickly?

To dry your handwashed black clothes quickly, lay them flat on a clean towel and gently roll the towel up, pressing down to absorb as much water as possible. Then, unroll the towel, reshape the garment, and lay it flat to air dry.

To speed up the drying process, you can also place the garments in a well-ventilated area or use a fan to circulate air. Avoid direct sunlight or heat sources as these can cause fading and damage.

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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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Learn the secrets to hand washing black clothes. Preserve their rich color and quality for longer wear.Learn the secrets to hand washing black clothes. Preserve their rich color and quality for longer wear.Learn the secrets to hand washing black clothes. Preserve their rich color and quality for longer wear.