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Why Your Black Clothes Are Turning Red (And how to fix it)

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If you’re like I was the first time this happened, you are probably quite confused as to how your black clothes have started to turn red. There are a few different things that can have gone wrong, so let’s get to the bottom of it, and then fix the discolored clothes.

The most common reason is that your black clothes have been exposed to a bleaching agent. To create black clothes, dye is applied to fabric with permanent red or blue color. Once the bleach has stripped away the dye, you are left with the garment’s underlying color.

For the rest of this guide, we are going to go over a few simple ways you can fix the discoloration of your black clothes, and how to prevent it in the future.

How to Restore the Black Color in Your Clothes

The best way to restore the color to black clothes that have accidentally been bleached is to re-dye them.

Since the dark-colored dye has been stripped away leaving your garment with its underlying color, the best way to restore the garment to its former glory is to get a black dye and do it yourself.

Be careful not to heat the mixture higher than 93℃.

Below I have written out the process step-by-step and added some tips to get an extra deep black color on your clothes.

  1. There are many amateur dying kits available online (Amazon paid link), you can also pick one up at larger supermarkets, or specialty stores.
  2. Once you have gotten hold of the dye, put your garments in a large pan together with water, and heat it up to 93℃ (or 199.4°F for you Americans).
  3. Make sure to get a pan big enough to comfortably stir the garment inside of it.
  4. When it is starting to simmer you can add your dye and 250 grams of salt.
  5. Generally, it’s recommended to follow the instructions, and add the amount as is written on the dye. That is, to stir for 10 min with a smaller amount of dye.
  6. Bonus: If you want a deeper black color, you can consider doubling the amount of dye, as well as letting them sit twice as long as recommended in the instructions.
  7. Once done, thouroughly rinse the garments, and squeeze out any excess dye. Be careful to not stain anything in the process!
  8. Now dry it out, and you should have restored your clothes to their former glory.

How to Prevent Black Clothes From Turning Red and Blue

The best way to preserve the color of black clothes is to avoid exposing them to bleaching agents. You can find bleach in grooming products such as toothpaste and certain face cream, but also in cleaning products like hydrogen peroxide and detergent specifically made for white clothes.

A no chlorine bleaching label really means no chlorine.

It is imperative that you avoid staining your black clothes with these products. Make sure to clean the fabric right away if you spill for example toothpaste on your black shirt, or if you accidentally place your pants on a surface treated with bleach recently.

Another great tip is to always turn your colored clothes inside-out before line-drying them outside, as the sun will slowly bleach your clothes and leave them looking dull and lifeless.

How Do You Stop Black Clothes From Bleeding?

Most new clothes will bleed a little as the dye is not fully set when you take it from the store. So it is important to be gentle the first few times you wash your new clothes.

Generally, turning the clothes inside out, and washing your new clothes with cold water on a gentle cycle prevents your clothes from bleeding. Adding a cup of vinegar, or half a cup of salt to the rinse cycle will help to lock in the dye in your clothes.

Another thing to keep in mind with clothes that bleed a lot, is that the other clothes in the washer will be affected by the dye that leeches off. Make sure that you don’t wash your bright clothes together with the clothes that let off dye.

It is best to wash them together with similarly colored clothes, or just black ones.

After a few washes your clothes will be ready to rejoin the rest of your laundry in the washing machine.

I wrote a comprehensive guide on why your clothes are changing color that covers every type of discoloration. Feel free to check it out next.

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