Why do Your Laundry Colors Fade?

There is nothing more frustrating than finding that great item of clothing starting to look dull and tired. While you may have been attracted to the bright, vibrant color, after a few washes your clothing can start to look far less appealing. Fortunately, it is simple to understand why laundry colors fade, so you can take proactive action. Why do Your Laundry Colors Fade

The Impact of Hard Water

While many consumers assume that it is the fault of detergent for those fading colors, it is more likely to be your water. Approximately 85 percent of water across the United States is hard water. This means that the water contains a high level of dissolved minerals, particularly magnesium and calcium. Although it sounds innocuous, hard water can have detrimental effects around our homes. Hard water can cause cloudy spots on dishes and glassware, leave tough scale buildup on fixtures and even cause dry skin and hair.

Washing your laundry in hard water can also cause similar, unfavorable results. Your clothing is already subjected to some tough treatment inside your washing machine; the cycle beats up your clothing, and the spin cycle throws the items around to remove the excess water. Unfortunately, when the wash water contains a high mineral content, this can agitate the fibers of your clothing even more. This can not only leave your clothing feeling scratchy and dry, but since the minerals are not washed out well, they can end up sticking to the fabric.

The Chlorine Damage Potential

Another potentially destructive element of our water supplies is the presence of chlorine. This chemical is used in municipal treatment facilities as a disinfectant to eliminate bacteria and viruses from the water. Since the water needs to be protected during the journey through the network of pipes to our homes, chlorine levels need to be significant, and this can allow traces to remain in our tap water. The difficulty arises as chlorine is the primary ingredient in bleach. This means that the trace of chlorine in your laundry washing water is slowly working to bleach out the color in your clothing. Just like the chlorine in your swimming pool can work to damage the pattern on your swimsuit, the same thing can happen with your laundry, just at a slower rate.

Protecting Your Clothing 

Fortunately, there are some effective ways to protect your laundry and other areas of your home from hard water and chlorine. The most effective is to install a home water softener. These devices can remove hard water minerals and chlorine from your tap water, making the water far gentler on your laundry. Washing your clothing in softened water can not only protect your colors from fading, but studies have shown that you can reduce the amount of detergent used.

You can also reduce fading by washing your clothes inside out. The color rich fibers can be protected against the effects of the spinning agitators in your washer when the items are inside out. Additionally, you may want to consider using a cold water cycle. Dark clothing can hold color longer when washed in cold water.

By Mark Williams (NicMar President Mark Williams holds degrees in Applied Science and Industrial Thermodynamics, along with Agricultural Mechanization and Systems Engineering from Ohio State University. He also holds the highest possible industry ranking, being WQA (Water Quality Association) LEVEL 6 Certified.)

Print Friendly
Nicmar Water
999 Baltimore Road York SpringsPA17372 USA 
 • 800-542-8649

Water Solution Center

Educational Center