Is it okay to wash black clothes with colored clothes?

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byPenny
Is it okay to wash black clothes with colored clothes?

We all want to save time and money. Right? So like me, you might have considered mixing your washing loads including your black clothes because you just don’t want to bother running another wash. I don’t blame you for that!

But is it really OK? Will you end up with stained clothes?

I always recommend sorting your laundry if you can. At the very least, wash whites on their own to stop them going gray.

But as long as you don’t have whites in the mix, here’s the quick answer to this conundrum:

It’s generally safe to wash black and colored clothes together, as long as you use cool water, a gentle detergent, and your black clothes have some man-made fibers in them that make them less likely to bleed onto other clothing. Always check the label to be sure

My biggest tip is to use cold water, as it’s less likely to cause dye transfer than warm or hot. Another thing to do is to use liquid detergent or anything that does not include bleaching agents. Generally detergent meant for whites will have optical brighteners in them which is not so great for colored clothing, especially black items.

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Can I wash black and colored clothes together?

hand washing clothes

You can usually wash your black and colored clothes together without issues, but there are some precautions you should take.

When it comes to laundry, colors can bleed, especially in new garments.

To avoid any mishaps, my recommendation is: don’t wash new black items with your colored clothes. To be safe, run them through a separate cycle to minimize the risk of colors transferring the first time you wash them.

My top tips for mixing black clothing with colors:

  • Check for colorfastness: Before washing, check the fabric of the colored items. Generally fabrics that include man-made fibers, such as polyester and nylon, are less likely to run. Natural fibers such as cotton and linen, are more likely to run.
  • Check the care labels: Always read the care labels for specific washing instructions.
  • Wash similar colors together: Avoid adding light or white items in the wash because the black items are even more likely to stain them.
  • Choose a cool wash temperature: Use cold water to reduce the risk of color bleeding.
  • Use a gentle detergent: Choose a mild detergent that’s formulated for colored fabrics.
  • Turn inside-out. Turn your black items inside to protect them from wear and to reduce lint deposits.

If you follow those tips, spoiling your colored clothing will be minimized.

But what about the times when it’s not OK to mix blacks with colors?

Let’s take a look at that next.

Here’s when it isn’t OK to wash black clothes with colors

Not ok to wash to wash black clothes with colors

Sometimes, mixing your blacks and darks simply isn’t worth the time or the money saved.

Here are my best tips for when it’s not worth mixing your blacks and colors:

  • New clothing: New clothes, especially in bright or dark colors, often contain excess dye that can bleed in the wash. It’s wise to wash them separately the first few times.

  • Mixing different fabric types: Mixing heavy garments like black jeans with lighter fabrics can result in color transfer and wear on the lighter fabrics due to friction.

  • Non-colorfast items: Items that aren’t colorfast should be washed separately as they may lose dye even after several washes.

  • Use of bleach or stain removers: These can cause fabrics to release dye more readily, risking the integrity of your black clothes.

  • Different care instructions: If garments have varying washing instructions, such as temperature or cycle type, it’s best to follow those guidelines individually to avoid damage.

Can black clothes stain colored clothes?

Yes, black clothes can stain colored clothes if they are not washed properly.

When you wash new black garments with lighter colored ones, the risk of bleeding dyes is higher.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Pre-wash care: Before washing your new black clothing, consider doing a pre-wash rinse or a vinegar soak to help set the dye.

  • Fabric type matters: Dye transfer is more likely with certain fabrics. Cotton and linen, for instance, tend to release dye more easily than polyester or nylon.

Here’s a handy guide:

Fabric Type Risk of Color Transfer
Cotton High
Linen High
Polyester Low
Nylon Low
  • Water temperature: Always use cold water for the first few washes as hot water can cause dyes to release.

  • Washing frequency: Over-washing can break down dyes, leading to color transfer. Wash black clothes only when necessary.

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What temperature is best for washing colored clothes?

washing temperature dial

If your colored clothes are moderately soiled, or you’re washing them for the first time, you might be tempted to use warm water to better tackle the grime.

However, warm water increases the likelihood of color bleeding.

Typically, you’ll want to opt for cold water, especially for new clothes that might bleed color. Washing in cold water can help to prevent colors from fading and minimizes the chance of colors bleeding from one garment to another.

Unless the care label specifically suggests warm water, stick to cold because it will keep your colors safe.

Here’s a quick temperature guide:

  • Cold Water: 60-80°F (15-27°C)

    • Best for preventing color runs
    • Good for washing new colored clothes
  • Warm Water: 90-110°F (32-43°C)

    • May cause colors to bleed
    • Only use if care label recommends

Washing in cold water can, of course save a lot of money too. Find out here how I save $$$ on my laundry - How I do my laundry (almost for free).

Which type of detergent is best for washing colored and black clothing together?

Liquid detergent is often your best bet for several reasons:

  1. Gentle on colors: Liquid detergents are known for their gentle formula, and generally don’t include bleaching agents, which helps to keep your colors from fading.
  2. Dissolves easily: Unlike powders, liquid detergents dissolve quickly in water, ensuring that no undissolved particles are left on your clean clothes.
  3. Versatile temperatures: Liquid detergent works well in a range of water temperatures, from cold to hot, making it versatile for all types of laundry loads.
  4. Use it as stain remover: You can apply liquid detergent directly to stains for effective pre-treatment.

Is it safe to wash black and white clothes together?

black and white laundry

To keep whites white, I always recommend washing whites on their own with a detergent specifically designed for whites. Colored clothing can then go in another wash.

But, if you have no choice and want to keep your washing loads to a minimum, here are some tips for the best results:

  • Use cold water. A cold water wash will ensure that color transfer is minimized.
  • Don’t use detergent with bleach in it. Bleach can be good for whites, but it will fade your colors.
  • Avoid washing new clothes with whites. Don’t add anything you haven’t washed before in a mixed load. You don’t want any nasty surprises!
  • Use a color-catcher. Color catchers attract the dye onto them so that it doesn’t end up on your lighter clothing.

Frequently asked questions

How can I prevent my dark-colored clothes from bleeding onto other fabrics?

To prevent dark-colored clothes from bleeding, use cold water. Additionally, consider using color-catcher sheets that absorb excess dye during the wash cycle to keep other fabrics safe.

What’s the right temperature setting for washing dark or black clothing?

Cold water is the best temperature setting for washing dark or black clothing as it minimizes the risk of colors running and prevents fabric shrinkage.

Are there any specific color combinations to avoid when washing clothes together?

Avoid washing lint-shedding fabrics, like towels and sweaters, with dark clothes. Keep highly contrasting colors separate, especially bright and dark hues, to avoid color transfer.

What is the best way to wash dark clothes in the washing machine?

Use a mild detergent and select a gentle cycle for dark clothes. Turning garments inside out reduces friction, which helps maintain color and prevents fabric wear.

Can mixing dark blue and black in the laundry cause any issues?

Mixing dark blue and black clothes typically doesn’t cause issues. However, if garments are new or of lower quality, they might bleed, so washing them separately for the first few times can help.

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! SparklingPenny.com was founded in 2019 and has since helped millions of people achieve a cleaner living space.


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Washing black clothes with other colors may be more convenient, but are you damaging your clothes?Washing black clothes with other colors may be more convenient, but are you damaging your clothes?Washing black clothes with other colors may be more convenient, but are you damaging your clothes?