It’s everyone’s worst laundry nightmare: a stray red sock sneaks into your white wash, turning everything pink.
The solution to this, of course, is colour catchers. But, do they really work? Read on to find out if it’s worth investing in colour catchers and how to use them if you do.
How Do Colour Catchers Work?
Without getting too technical, the dyes used to colour clothing are negatively charged. Colour catchers are made using positively charged compounds that seek out, and bind with, the negative compounds from the dye.
It’s not just a happy accident: colour catchers are scientifically proven to work. Even if this can sound slightly abstract, many consumer services have tested out the efficacy of various colour catchers, often proving that they do absorb running colours.
To use a colour catcher, you simply put it into the washing machine with your clothes and wash your clothes as normal.
Are Colour Catchers Really Worth It?
Sometimes you really need to wash an item of clothing but don’t have enough for a full white or colour load.
In this case, you can mix your lights and darks and use a colour catcher to stop any potential discolouration of your white items.
You may also want to use a colour catcher if you are washing a dark or vibrantly-coloured garment for the first time, as this is when the majority of the colour will run.
That said, colour catchers can only work to a certain extent, so you should still take care to wash new items with similar colours.
They can also be handy if you’re washing on high temperatures as this can cause colours to run more so than colder washes.
Colour catchers do work, but they’re probably not an indispensable item in your laundry line-up. It’s generally safe to wash lights and darks together if they’ve already been laundered a few times.
However, if it’s not always possible to separate whites, darks and colours, colour catchers can help keep whites looking fresh and they’re relatively inexpensive.
Do Colour Catchers Damage Washing Machines?
Colour catchers can indeed block the pump in your washing machine. As they are small and thin, they can escape down the pipe and get stuck. This will cause the machine to stop mid-cycle, leaving you with soaking wet clothes that you need to wash again.
If this happens, usually, you can empty the pump or filter yourself, however, there is a risk that the damage may need to be treated by a professional.
To avoid this, you can put your colour catcher sheet in a mesh wash bag.
What Can You Use Instead of a Colour Catcher?
If you don’t have time to pop down to the shop to pick up a pack of colour catchers, you can try this hack if you have soda crystals (sodium carbonate) and absorbent white fabric on hand.
Dissolve one tablespoon of soda crystals in hot water and soak the fabric in the water until the mixture is absorbed. Wait until the cloths are fully dry before using them.
In The Wash is your guide to the best laundry and cleaning products, tips and tricks. Our mission is to solve the UK’s cleaning and laundry dilemmas!