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What Is the Colors Setting on Washers? (And When To Use It)

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Using a washer isn’t too complicated once you learn what every setting can do. Unfortunately, not all washers come with detailed and clear instructions, so you may have a hard time understanding how to use every option.

For instance, you may have questions regarding the Colors setting; what does it do, and what should you use it for?

The Color setting on washers should be used when washing colored or dark clothes that are more likely to bleed dye into the rest of the clothes and fade after every cycle. This setting ensures that the rinsing water is cold and the spin speed is low to minimize the chances of the dye bleeding. 

If you want to learn more about this particular setting, read the rest of this article. I will explain what it does and how you can use it on your washing machine.

What the Colors Setting on Washers Is For

Colors Program on Your Washer: Is it really worth using?
Here’s a video I made talking about the Colors setting.

Washing machine manufacturers have anticipated several scenarios and have ensured that your machine is ready for anything you may need. As a result, there are so many different settings in a washing machine that sometimes you may get confused and not understand which one you can use. 

When it comes to the Colors setting, it’s easy to get confused because every piece of clothing you have has a certain color; does this mean that this setting applies to pretty much anything? In reality, this setting applies to items of clothing with vivid colors that can bleed during a washing cycle, which can ruin other articles of clothing and, at the same time, cause its own color to fade with time.

The colors setting on a washing machine control panel.

The kind of material is also important when choosing the setting on your washing machine. The Colors setting is more suitable for synthetic and mixed fabrics. Other materials are better washed in different settings, like Normal or Delicate.

What Does the Colors Setting Include?

If a piece of clothing is dyed, chances are that some of this dye may bleed into other items if water runs through the material. This is especially likely when the water is hot or the clothes are brand new. Bright red garments, in particular, are guaranteed to bleed at some point if you’re not careful.

My white t-shirt turned pink.

Fortunately, every washing machine has a particular setting to help you avoid these mistakes. The Colors setting is only for colored items that may bleed during the washing cycle.

This setting ensures that the water running through the clothes is cold during rinsing to avoid bleeding and includes an additional rinsing cycle to make sure the residual dye is gone.

Moreover, the Colors setting also includes lower-speed spinning. The purpose is to wash the clothes thoroughly but gently; slower spinning means the clothes are treated delicately, and bleeding is discouraged even further.

These measures ensure that the risk of any dye bleeding into other items is minimal. If you want to be perfectly sure, especially if you’re washing brand-new items, only put clothes of similar colors in the same load. This way, you can ensure that there will be no bleeding, or even if there is, it’s basically undetectable.

If any of your clothes have been discolored from dye bleeding, check out my guide here.

How To Use the Colors Setting

Once you learn what the Colors setting is for, you will probably use it often in your washing machine, especially if you like wearing vivid or dark colors. Sometimes this setting may be called Dark instead of Colors since the principle is the same. Clothes with darker tones are more likely to bleed and ruin the rest of the items inside the washing machine.

On this washer, the setting is called dark garments.

Typically, in order to start a washing cycle in a washing machine, you are supposed to select three main settings: 

  1. As mentioned above, there are different types of cycles. The color/dark setting is only one of them. Other settings include Normal, Delicate, and more. If you have dark or vividly colored clothes and blended or synthetic fabrics, choose Colors.
  2. The load size doesn’t need much explanation; depending on the amount of clothes you’re putting inside the washing machine, you can select between Small, Medium, or Large. Some washing machines can have extra options for even bigger loads of clothes.
  3. Typically, instructions will include the ideal water temperature for every kind of cycle in your washing machine. The Colors setting requires a low temperature to minimize bleeding, as I explained above. Make sure you choose a temperature between 20 and 40 °Celsius (68 to 104 °Fahrenheit).
  4. Once you have chosen all the right settings, put the detergents in the suitable compartments. If you are using a liquid or powder detergent, check the right compartment in the instructions; if you are using pods, you should put them inside the drum on top of the clothes.  
  5. All that’s left is to load the washer with the clothes you have selected. Close the drum and turn on the washing machine.

Extra Tips for Using the Color Setting

  • Sorting the clothes is essential. You must be careful when sorting the clothes that will go into a particular cycle. Make sure there are no white or light-colored items in the load; otherwise, they might be ruined by the dye that may bleed during the washing cycle.
  • Read the labels. If you’re not sure what setting you should use, check the labels on your clothes. Most companies include detailed instructions for washing and maintaining the clothes.
  • Keep two separate loads. Some washing machines only have one setting for vivid and dark colors since they require similar conditions. It’s ideal to use two different cycles for normal and dark colors since the latter may bleed more.


The Color setting on your washing machine can be used for mixed or synthetic clothes that have bright or dark colors. This specific setting involves cold rinsing, an extra rinsing cycle, and lower-speed spinning.

The primary purpose of the Colors setting is to avoid the dye used in some clothes bleeding into other items inside the drum of the washing machine. Even though this setting may be used for dark and bright colors, it’s wise to use two different loads for each type.

If you want to learn more about your washing machine’s settings, check out this article.


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