Why Dark Denim Bleeds Blue & How to Fix It

giving you the blues?

giving you the blues?

Got the blues over badly behaving denim? Dark jeans that leave you Smurfy blue from the waist down is annoying (albeit amusing), but when a cobalt cloud is smeared allover the side of your handbag or you find that an entire load of laundry is tinted teal, denim dyes that won’t stay put can end up a costly mistake.

Real Simple says that the first step is to note a label warning the denim may bleed. It sounds simple, but even though most brands make their indigo dyes clear on the sale tags, it can be easy to overlook since they don’t include special indigo laundering instructions. If there isn’t any indication one way or another, the magazine suggests the most clever little trick: rub white paper against the fabric to check for residue.

If pants aren’t your only problem and your colors are running from tops to bottoms, TLC tells us to shop smart and select more durable synthetic fabrics, like polyester or nylon. “These synthetic fibers tend to hold on to color better than natural materials, like cotton or wool, resulting in less dye transfer and fading in the wash.”

From denim to dresses and everything in between, keep all of those colors vivid (and go a little greener too!) by laundering with cool water. Despite old wives’ tales, since we’re not scrubbing our duds on a wash board by hand, hot water is no longer a crucial component for truly clean clothes and will actually ruin your wardrobe much faster. “With modern detergents, washing clothes in hot water is not only unnecessary, but may be downright harmful. Hot water opens up the fibers in clothes to release the dye, while cold water keeps them closed, trapping the dye inside to prevent bleeding. Choosing the cold setting on your washing machine will eliminate most problems with color bleeding, and may also help clothes last longer.”  Remember that we’re talking about washing your clothes in cold water, and that sheets and towels should still be laundered in clean hot water in order to kill germs and dust mites.

Sometimes we can still take precaution and end up duped, if that dang blue denim has smudged on to the hem of a light blouse, the tops of your shoes, or the side of a purse (all common culprits), pretreat the area with a stain remover, then wash in cold water. Repeat as necessary, and always skip using the dryer until the stain is gone.

If your hyper-pigmented pants are still leaking inky goodness into the rest of your laundry in the wash, super cool color catcher sheets can at least keep the blues from spreading to rest of the load, “Pick up some commercial color catchers. These dye magnets look like fabric softener sheets, but they’re designed to catch loose dyes in the washer before they transfer to your clothes. Color catcher sheets can be particularly helpful when you’re dealing with red or orange dyes, because, as we mentioned earlier, these colors tend to be less stable and are more likely to bleed than other hues.”  What’s your worst laundry woe with jeans, a generous color that infuses all of your other garments in the wash, or the rub that you don’t notice until it’s too late?  — Casandra Armour

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