“ME“Anyone I know has a closet full of black clothes,” wrote the late writer and director Nora Ephron in an essay titled In maintenance. I don’t like propagating clichés, but requests for advice on how to prevent black clothes from fading have far surpassed the others in this series.
So here are some expert tips on keeping black items in your wardrobe because, as Ephron wrote, “Black makes your life so much easier. Everything matches the black, especially the black. “
Wash less and with care
Sally Hughes, the founder of Kair Laundry Products, says that to prevent black clothes from fading, the setting of the washing machine is key, “you want to shake the garment as little as possible.” She recommends turning the garment inside out and washing it on a gentle, cold cycle with a liquid detergent and avoiding tumble drying.
Rebecca Van Amber, a textile scientist at RMIT University, agrees. She advises machine washing black clothes infrequently, as agitation and water cause the dye to come off the garment, especially with natural fibers.
“Different types of fibers interact with water differently,” explains Van Amber, and this affects how they are dyed and the color fastness of the dyes. For example, because natural fibers are very absorbent, the dye used is very soluble, “so when you put them in the washing machine the dye will come out of the garment.”
She says synthetic fibers have a different relationship to water and that is why they shouldn’t fade as much. The dye used for fabrics like polyester and nylon tends to be more stable than natural fibers because they are less absorbent. Some of the dyes and techniques that are applied “do not use water, they can be dyed more in a fiber stage than in a garment stage.”
Since it is important to wash black clothing infrequently to preserve color depth, fashion designer Bianca Spender suggests cleaning stains with “a small amount of non-comedogenic soap on a toothbrush with a little water.”
Van Amber suggests pretreating problem areas, such as where deodorant might leave marks, with a tint stick before washing them off. Or by using “a refreshing fabric spray that you spray lightly before letting it air out.”
Stay out of the sun and moisture.
Van Amber says that when drying black clothes, be sure to keep them out of the sun. “UV light is the most powerful bleaching agent in clothing. If you want your colors to stay bright, don’t hang things outside on the line in direct sunlight. “
Spender cautions that clothing and coats are susceptible to mold, so “it’s important to store your clothes in an airy space that’s protected from moisture and moths.” She recommends using a natural moth repellent like lavender.
Spender recommends reviving textured knits with a clothing brush.
For special garments like silk evening dresses, suggest wearing a makeup scarf when putting them on and taking them off, to prevent marks from occurring in the first place. A useful tip if marks appear: “You can remove the marks on the crepe by rubbing the fabric against itself.”
Fixing the fading
If you’re particularly crafty and resourceful, Van Amber says that faded black garments can be over-dyed at home with a Rit dye but there are a few things to keep in mind. Natural fibers like cotton, linen, or silk will absorb the dye better than synthetics like polyester or nylon. She says make sure you wear protective gloves and a mask and use a plastic tub so it doesn’t turn black.
“The most important thing is to make sure the garment is wet before you dye it,” he says, and once it’s in the pot, be sure to stir it continuously and keep the water moving because otherwise “you’ll end up with a striped garment.”
Spender also recommends home dyeing “in a large soup pot.” Or for favorite garments where dyeing is too risky, he says, “Another option is to wear faded blacks with prints, florals, or lighter shades.” Echoing Ephron’s sentiment that everything matches black, even faded black.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism