salt and faded shirt

Does Salt Prevent Clothes from Fading?

We’ve all been there – you just bought a new pair of black jeans, and after one wash, they’re already starting to fade.

It’s a common issue, but there are a few things you can do to slow the process down. One of the most popular is adding salt to the wash cycle.

But does this natural method really work? What other methods can you try?

Read on as we reveal whether salt prevents clothes from fading, plus some extra tips for keeping dyed fabrics bolder for longer.


What Does Salt Do to Clothes?

salt for stains

During the dying process, salt is often used to help fibres absorb the colour more effectively.

While salt won’t stop fading completely, it can help to lock in colours for longer and prevent bleeding.

Salt also has the added benefit of being a natural stain remover and brightener. This is especially useful for removing sweat stains and stopping whites turning yellow over time.

Salt works best on natural fabrics like cotton, which are more prone to fading than synthetic materials.

However, due to its natural abrasiveness, salt can also damage or dry out fibres if used excessively.

With that in mind, you should stick to the recommended amount and methods outlined below, and combine our other handy tips instead of loading up on salt.


How to Set Colour in Clothes with Salt

salt for dying clothes

If you’ve recently bought a new garment, check the care label and any instructions that came with it.

Any items that have a warning like “wash before wearing” or “colour may run”, must be prewashed to limit the risk of bleeding or staining. And salt can aid this further.

There are two ways you can do this:

Method 1

  1. Fill a clean bucket with warm water and pour one cup of regular table salt. Stir until the salt has dissolved, then leave to cool.
  2. Next, submerge your garment into the mixture and leave to soak for 2-3 hours – this will help to bind the dye into the fibres of the fabric.
  3. When time’s up, remove the item from the bucket and rinse it with clean, cold water.
  4. Then, run through a cool, gentle wash cycle with a small amount of mild detergent. Unlike warm or hot water, cold water won’t open up the fibres and release the dye – instead, it will remain colourfast for longer.
  5. Finally, hanging the item up to air dry away from direct sunlight, as exposure to UV rays can also lead to fading.


Method 2

If you’re short on time, skip the soaking stage and go straight to laundering. But instead of detergent, dissolve half a cup of salt in a small amount of warm water and add the solution directly into the drum.

This way, when running a cold cycle, you won’t have to worry about the salt not dissolving. Then pour half a cup of white vinegar into the fabric conditioner slot.

This will help to remove any residue leftover from the salt and any odour from the dye—something very common with new black jeans. Plus, it will also help to soften the fabric.


How to Prevent Clothes from Fading in the Wash Using Salt

put salt in washing machine drum

Although sealing colour into your clothes is most critical before a first wash, you can continue using salt to prevent clothes from fading with each cycle.

All you need to do is add a quarter cup of salt to the drum with any dark or brightly coloured garments made from natural materials like cotton or wool. If using a cold cycle, make sure it’s dissolved first.

You can also use white vinegar in place of fabric conditioner as mentioned above. This will help to break down any remaining salt crystals during the rinse cycle to keep clothes supple and restore brightness.


Other Ways to Reduce Fading

ways to reduce fading in clothes

Some other things you can do to help prevent your clothes from fading include:

  • Wash your clothes less frequently
  • Choose cooler 30°C cycles wherever possible
  • Turn clothes inside out before washing them to minimise friction
  • Wash dark colours together to prevent transfer onto lighter fabrics
  • Line dry or dry indoors on an airer away from direct sunlight
  • Invest in a specially formulated detergent like Persil’s Colour Protect 
  • Stick to liquid detergents as they’re less abrasive than powders

Ready to learn more? Read our full guide to soaking clothes in salt water, as well as the best ways to use white vinegar in your laundry, on our blog.