Washing dark clothes incorrectly can lead to color bleeding, color transference, and color fading. 

The most important thing to avoid when washing dark clothes is hot water. Hot water makes dark clothes bleed color and causes them to fade. Hot water is the enemy of dark clothes. 

To properly wash dark clothes, be sure to turn them inside out before washing, and adjust the washing machine to the cold water setting. It is also preferable to use a laundry detergent specifically formulated for dark clothes when rinsing in the washing machine. 

When drying dark clothes, avoid line drying in the sun as well as machine drying. The best way to dry dark clothes is by air drying them in a cool, dim place, without direct sunlight. 

If your not confident in washing and drying your dark laundry without ruining it, you should take it to the dry cleaners. Read more to see how long dry cleaners take and how much dry cleaners cost.

Continue reading to learn more about how to wash dark clothes, how to dry dark clothes, and how to get stains out of dark clothes. 

Table of Contents

How To Wash Dark Clothes

How To Wash Dark Clothes

Total Time: 60 min

Cost: $0

Supplies & Tools

  • Washing machine
  • Laundry detergent
this is a photo of a washing machine to wash dark clothes
Washing machine
this is a photo of laundry detergent to wash dark clothes
Laundry detergent

Carefully follow the steps below to wash your dark clothes in the washing machine.

1. Check the care label on your dark clothing

Check the care label on your dark clothing before you do any washing. Some garments have special care instructions that need to be followed.

this is a photo of a care label on your dark clothing

2. Sort your dark clothes

Sort your dark clothes by washing dark clothes together with other dark clothes. Washing light and dark clothes together can possibly lead to color bleeding and transference, as well as the fading of dark colors.

this is a picture where you Sort your dark clothes

3. Turn dark clothes inside out

Turn dark clothing inside out before placing into the washing machine. Turning garments inside out helps to protect the delicate fibers on the outer surface as well as to preserve the rich color of your dark clothes. 

this is a photo of tall paul turning dark clothes inside out

4. Add laundry detergent to dark clothes

Add laundry detergent to dark clothes that is formulated specifically for dark clothing. If you do not have detergent for dark clothes, use a smaller amount of your regular or gentle laundry detergent.

This is a photo of laundry detergent to wash dark clothes

5. Set to cold water

Wash darks with cold water to prevent color bleeding. Hot water makes dark garments more likely to bleed color, and will speed up the fading process. Hot water will also shrink the clothes.

this is a photo of setting a washing machine to cold water to was dark colors

6. Set to regular or gentle wash

Use a regular or gentle wash cycle depending on the type of fabric the garment is made from. Some delicate garments may even require the use of a mesh laundry bag in some cases. Please refer to the garment’s care label before using any particular setting on the washing machine (how long does a washer take?).

this is a photo of a washing machines set to regular or gentle wash

7. Air dry the dark clothes

Once the wash cycle has been completed proceed to air dry your dark clothing. Heat can fade dark colors over time, so try to avoid using the washing machine, or drying your dark clothing in the sun. Use a drying rack to lay flat (dry flat), or hang your dark garments to dry in a cool place out of contract with direct sunlight (line dry.)

this is a photo of Air drying a t-shirt

How to wash dark clothes: quick tips

  • Do not wash with hot water when washing dark clothes. Always wash dark clothes with cold water.
  • Avoid overloading your washing machine so that your dark clothes have adequate space to move and mix. 
  • Always turn dark clothing inside out to protect the color from fading. 
  • Remove stains before washing. 
  • Dry your clothes away from sunlight as sunlight can cause the color on your dark garments to fade.
  • If you choose to use the dryer, be sure to use the tumble dry low setting.  

How To Get Stains Out Of Dark Clothing

1. Act Quickly

Act quickly to remove the stain as this is the most important thing you can do to remove it. Use a damp cloth to dab, not rub, the stain to get the majority of the stain out before trying more aggressive removal methods.

2. Lemon Juice & White Vinegar

Lemon juice and white vinegar are both great substances for removing stains from dark clothes. Dampen a cloth with either one part lemon juice or white vinegar mixed with one part water and dab directly onto the stain to pull it out of the fabric.

3. Baking Soda

Baking Soda and other absorbent powders such as talcum powder and cornstarch are great for helping to remove oil and grease stains from clothing. Cover the stain in baking soda, and then place a book or something heavy overtop and leave it to sit overnight. In the morning brush the powder off and check if there has been any improvement.

4. Soak

Let your garment soak in lukewarm water with laundry detergent for 10 to 15 minutes as soon as the stain has occurred, to give yourself a good opportunity to remove the stain before it settles in.

5. White Vinegar

Add white vinegar to the fabric softener compartment while also using laundry detergent in the washing machine to remove stains as well as soap residue. Vinegar will help your darks become darker. 


Dark clothes must be washed in cold water. Washing dark clothes in hot water will cause the color to bleed and fade. 

Turn dark clothes inside out, use detergent formulated for dark clothes, wash in cold water, and dry out of contact with direct sunlight to keep them from fading. 

First check the care label to see if the garment is dry clean only or if it has any special care requirements. If the garment can be machine washed, turn it inside out, use detergent for dark clothes, and wash in cold water. 

Dark clothes must be washed in cold water because hot water causes dark clothes to bleed and the color to fade from the surface of the fabric.