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Why Do Colors Sometimes Bleed In the Laundry?

Posted by Clean Rite on July 07, 2021

One of the worst laundry experiences is also an almost universal one — at some point, we all pull our favorite new shirt from the wash, only to find the colors have bled (or another item has bled into it!)

So, what happens in these instances?

The answer can go a few different directions, and we’ll cover a few scenarios in this post. 


Option #1: Low-Quality Dye/Material Was Used

Part of the creation process for your clothes involves dying the fabric and treating it with chemicals to “set” the dye. The quality of dye used by the manufacturer makes a huge difference in whether your colors will be prone to bleeding, or even how vibrant the colors stay over time. 


Option #2: Bad Manufacturing Practices or Mistakes

Manufacturers have learned a lot about making clothes over the last few decades, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still poorly made clothes out in the world — or mistakes that make it past quality assurance efforts. So when asking whether 

Some potential manufacturing mishaps include:

  • Poor dying technique (if dyed by hand)
  • Wrong dye used for the fabric type
  • Too much dye was left on the product
  • The “mordant” (dye setting material) wasn’t used properly

Option #3: Use of Bleach While Washing

This is the one that many suspect first when they experience color bleeding, and rightfully so. While some modern bleaches are okay to use on colorful clothes, not all types will leave you with desirable results. 

To make matters worse, there are some products that consumers buy without much awareness that they contain bleach. Make sure to read the label of your chosen detergent fully to see if it has bleach, and whether that bleach is safe for use on colored clothes. 

Topics: Care + Tips

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