HomeLaundryWhat Colours Can You Wash Together? 

What Colours Can You Wash Together? 

Doing the laundry is often a chore we like to keep putting off for as long as we possibly can. While it doesn’t actually involve as much work as washing the dishes by hand or vacuuming your entire home, there is something about sorting and folding clothing that gets on most people’s nerves. 

There are also those all-important questions we tend to ask ourselves from time to time: can I throw this new item in with my usual load? Or, is it okay if I mix these items together to save time

When in a rush or simply not paying enough attention to the laundry symbols on our items, we may inadvertently shrink an item, or find that a shirt that once had white and blue stripes now seems to have grey and black ones. 

Let’s try to save ourselves from any future mishaps, and explore which colours we can wash together safely. 

What Colours Can You Wash Together? 

To ensure no items get stained or damaged, you want to wash similar colours together. In most cases, this will mean creating three piles: whites, darks, and lights (also sometimes referred to as colours). Your lights should be further broken down into smaller piles, based on either colour family, or colour hue. 

How to Wash White Clothes

Whites should be washed at higher temperatures (at least 60, but preferably 90 degrees Celsius), as this will ensure any and all stains are eliminated. Since white laundry loads most often involve bedding, towels, socks and/or underwear, you will also be making sure these items are properly sanitised as well. 

Do your absolute best to keep your white piles pure white, as even the tiniest light-coloured item can leave its mark. The good news is that getting the odd stain and discolouration out of a white item is easier than doing so from a coloured one. 

In order to achieve the best results, you should use a white-specific detergent. The HG Whiter Than White is a good one, as it will prevent those yellow and grey stains from forming, and will keep your whites crisp. 

How to Wash Dark Clothes 

Dark clothes should be washed at lower temperatures (no higher than 40 degrees Celsius – ideally at 30 degrees), as they are prone to bleeding, and can stain lighter items. This is especially true for new items which have never been washed. 

When compiling your pile of dark laundry, you can choose to either include or omit your denims, but do make sure not to throw in any delicate items, like bras, leggings or panties, as they may get damaged when washed with coarser items. 

Using a detergent made specifically for darker items can help you preserve the colour for a longer time too. Woolite for Dark Fabrics and Denim is a good option, and it also happens to smell nice.  

How to Wash Coloured Clothes 

The key to washing coloured clothing is to wash similar colours together. Your yellows, oranges and reds should be turned into one load, while your blues and greens need to be another. 
You can also separate your items based on hue, and keep your pastels together, while carefully separating them from darker items. Note that more vibrant colours are more likely to bleed in the wash, as are cotton and wool items. 

Coloured items should be washed at lower temperatures (30 degrees Celsius, or even lower), as they are prone to fading and bleeding. Note that it will be much more difficult to get a stain out of a colourful item, as using bleach, like you would on your whites, will only damage the item further. 

Use a detergent made specifically for colourful items, as you definitely don’t want to use the one you’ve used on the whites. Persil has a good liquid one, or you can try the Ariel pods if you prefer them. 

How to Wash Denim 

Your denim items can either be thrown in with your darks, or washed separately. This may leave you with just the one pair of jeans you can wear while the rest of them are busy drying, so don’t hesitate to combine them with a dark load: they won’t get damaged. Remember that you also need to wash them more often than you think.

A stack of denim

How to Wash Delicates 

Always wash your delicate items separately, and stick to the same rule as before: separate your darks from your lights. Washing a black bra with a nude one may lead to some unexpected colour combinations. 

Remember that some of your items may need to be hand-washed, and that it’s always a good idea to use a washing bag to separate your bras from your panties, and especially from your stockings, as they can get snagged by the clasps. 

How to Wash Multi-Coloured or Striped Items 

You will always run a bit of a risk when washing multi-coloured items, even when you adhere to that general rule of thumb: if the item is mostly dark, wash it with the darks, and the other way around. 

To prevent any unforeseen stains, you can always wash these items by hand when you initially get them, and see if they are bleeding at all. Or, you can throw them into the washer on their own if you have a single item cycle. 

How to Wash Stained Items 

Items that are heavily stained need to be treated with a stain remover first. If you just throw them in the wash, chances are the stain won’t be removed on the first go. 

Make sure that the product you choose is colour-appropriate: as stain removers made for white clothing tend to be much harsher and can damage the colour of even a pastel item.

How to Wash Towels, Bedding and Tea Towels 

Your tea towels, bedding and towels should always be washed at high temperatures (60 degrees Celsius or higher), in order to make sure they are fully sanitised and perfectly clean. 

Ideally, you will separate these items as well, i.e. not mix your white towels with your more colourful ones. Low quality towels may bleed, resulting in a rather unfortunate colour story. 

Other Sorting Considerations 

You can sort your clothing based on other considerations as well, in order to keep your colourful items as fresh as possible for a longer time to come. 

Sorting Clothes by Wash Type 

If you want to take one extra step, you can also check the labels of your items and separate them according to wash type, and not just colour. 

This will take more time though, and you will need to remember which items goes into which pile, so to be on the safe side, if you can’t be bothered, you can just wash your items on a lower temperature: 30 degrees Celsius for darks and lights, while your whites should always be fine at both 60 and 90 degrees Celsius. 

Make sure to take note of any items that need to be washed by hand, or that need to be drycleaned – as they will definitely not fare well in a regular cycle. 

Sorting Clothing by Fabric and Weight 

Certain materials will also not work well in the wash together, even if the colours are similar. Wool and latex won’t go well, for example, nor will items that produce a lot of lint mix well with any other item, especially cotton. 

If you can, try to stick to similar fabrics in a single load of laundry: heavier fabrics can be freely mixed, while you should keep any more sensitive materials away from the denim or wool, as they can get damaged by these coarser fabrics. 

How to Prevent Coloured Clothing from Fading 

In order to ensure the colours you wash together stay fresh and vibrant for a longer time, try to remember the following tips as well:

Wash New Items Separately 

When you purchase a new item of clothing, especially if it’s dark, make sure to first wash it separately, preferably by hand, to make sure it doesn’t bleed too much. You can expect every dark item to lose some of its initial colouring after the first few washes, so it’s best not to experience that in the washer. 

Turn Your Clothing Inside Out 

Turn your clothing inside out when washing it, to further preserve the colour. Don’t worry, it will still come out perfectly clean, but the colourful fabrics won’t rub against each other as much, preserving the vibrancy.

Wash Your Items in Cold Water 

Washing clothing in hot water can lead to their colour fading much faster. On the other hand, washing them in cold can ensure they are both clean and fresh, and that they don’t bleed in the wash. 

Remember that your towels and bedding always need to be washed in hot water – as that is the only way to kill all the bacteria that has been accumulating on them.

Try Using a Colour Catcher 

A colour catcher may seem like a proper gimmick, but some of them do actually work rather well. Dylon have a rather good one that you can try, and it will ensure that no colours run while in the wash. 

Get a Laundry Sorter 

If you have the space, invest in a laundry sorter that will make sorting through your washing that much easier. You can of course DIY it yourself, and simply buy three different laundry baskets, and mark each one appropriately. They don’t even need to live in the same room.

Make sure you do check that no stray item has found its way into the wrong pile by mistake – you never know when a stray colourful sock is poised to wreak havoc among your white dress shirts. 

Common Colour Clothing Questions Answered 

Can You Wash Whites with Colours? 

You shouldn’t wash your whites with your coloured items, especially in hot water. All it takes is one colourful item to bleed, and you can end up with a lot of unwelcome stains you will then need to spend time removing. 

If you absolutely must wash white items with coloured ones, at least use a colour catcher, but bear in mind it may not always work. 

On the other hand, washing your whites at a low temperature will not sanitise them completely, defeating the purpose. 

Can You Wash All Clothes Colours Together?

Yes, provided that you do it in cold water, and that you are certain none of your items bleed colour. 

Don’t wash a new item in a mixed colour wash, especially if it’s a dark one. 

You can also try using a colour catcher to ensure no accidents happen. 

Can You Wash Grey and White Together?

While light grey items can usually be safely mixed with your white items, darker greys are better left in the dark pile. 

Do bear in mind that some items (especially wool) can bleed colour when washed at high temperatures, so to be on the safe side, keep your white laundry pile exclusive to your whites.

What Colours Bleed in the Wash?

The colour that most often bleeds in the wash is red. This is due to the kind of dye used for manufacturing commercial clothing. 

However, all other colours are susceptible to bleeding in the wash as well, so to be on the safe side, always run a test hand wash on vibrantly coloured items, be they reds, purples or greens. 

Can You Wash Reds With Other Colours?

Ideally, you will not wash red items with other colours, as they are likely to bleed. This isn’t saying that all red items will stain your other, lighter clothing, but there is a reason why the red sock in the white shirt load is such a cliche. 

To Sum It Up 

While you can often get away with mixing different colours in the same load of laundry, it’s always best to separate your whites from your colours, and your lights from your darks. 

If you take a bit of time to take good care of your clothes, they will last you much longer, ensuring you are able to get the best possible cost per wear out of your favourite items. 


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