Clothes lose their brightness and shine once you have washed them frequently. Most of us discard old and faded clothes, but these usually end up in landfills where they strain our environment by taking years to degrade. You can always donate faded clothes or use them as rags to wipe down surfaces. But ideally, one should look to buy minimum clothes and try and reuse existing ones as far as possible. That is the best we can do to reduce our carbon footprint.
But the topic of this guide is how to restore faded fabrics, upholstery, bedclothes, T-shirts, dresses, pants, etc. There are many hacks and tricks that can help you restore old and faded clothes and make them look new again. Here they are:
1. Use a fabric softener every time you wash
The majority of people are unaware of the benefits of fabric softeners. Adding fabric softener (or fabric conditioner) to the final rinse cycle in the washer not only adds fragrance and softness to the clothes; it also enhances their colors and protects them from fading. Therefore, you must use fabric conditioners each time you wash your clothes.
2. Wash new clothes by hand and not in the washer
When you buy new clothes, you must, ideally, avoid washing them for a long time. Washing causes the color to fade. So if you can forego washing, you can maintain the fabric’s color longer. As far as possible, give your new clothes for dry cleaning for the first few times. Dry cleaning retains the color of the fabrics and after 2-3 dry cleaning sessions, your clothes will not bleed color when you wash them in the washer. Secondly, instead of using the washing machine, you can wash delicate fabrics by hand. Soak the fabrics in cold water with a cup of salt. This will prevent the colors from fading. Salt helps brighten clothes and helps the colors set in so that they become fade-resistant.
3. Always use cold water for washing
The question of restoring faded clothes will not arise if you use cold water instead of hot water for washing. Hot water causes colors to fades as the dyes and pigments break and dissolve, causing the colors to lighten. Coldwater, on the other hand, sets or fixes the dyes and pigments and prevents them from fading.
4. Dry colored clothes on lowest heat setting
In order to avoid sun-faded clothes, most of us dry our clothes in the dryer. People living in wet or cold climates also do not have the option of drying the clothes outdoors. If you have no other way of drying clothes other than a dryer, then it is best to dry them on the lowest possible heat setting (cold setting) of the dryer.
5. Wash old clothes with new ones of the same color
A simple trick to fix discolored clothes is to wash them with new ones of the same color. Toss all older clothes in one shade with new ones in the same or similar colors. The new clothes will bleed their colors which will get absorbed by the older ones. This trick works especially well for faded denim, towels, etc.
6. Use salt
A cup of salt is all you need to make clothes look new again. Simply add a cup of salt to the wash cycle or to the bucket when you soak the clothes. Use cold or warm water (never hot) to soak the clothes. Salt sets the pigments and brightens the colors.
7. Use dye
Buy dye of the same color as the clothes you want to restore. Add the dye to hot water along with a cup of salt. Let the clothes soak in the solution for an hour. Make sure you completely immerse the clothes in the solution else they could get unevenly colored. Wash the dyed fabrics in cold water and either air-dry them or dry them in the dryer on its lowest setting. Here are some of the best dyes for restoring the color of faded fabrics.
8. Use coffee to restore faded black clothes
You can easily restore the color of darker clothes using strong black coffee. Brew some strong black coffee. Add clothes to the washer and wash as usual. When the rinse cycle comes on, stop the machine and pour the hot coffee directly into the drum on the clothes. Continue the rinse cycle. All your clothes will be darker and brighter. Naturally, you must not use this method of restoring faded white clothes. You can use hot coffee to soak black faded jeans or denim. After soaking for an hour, wash the jeans as usual. Your denim will look like new!
9. Use turmeric to restore faded yellow clothes
An easy way to restore faded yellow clothes naturally is with turmeric. In a pot, simmer enough water (to soak the fabric completely) and add a cup of salt to it. Salt functions as a ‘fixative’ for the dye to follow. Turn off the heat and soak the fabric in the salty hot water for at least 30 minutes. Drain and wring out the fabric once it is cool enough to handle.
In the same pot, add some more water and two-three tablespoons of turmeric powder. Simmer on low heat and then add the fabric you want to restore. Turn off the heat and let the fabric soak in the yellow water for at least 30 minutes. Make sure you push down the fabric into the dye otherwise you might end up with uneven coloring. Remove the fabric after 30 minutes and rinse under cool, running water. Wring and allow to air dry.
10. Use turmeric and baking soda to restore faded red clothes
To hot water, add your faded red clothes which you want to brighten. Add baking soda and turmeric and stir well. The water will turn red. Allow the clothing to soak in this natural red dye for a few minutes before rinsing with cool water.
11. Use copper pennies to restore faded blue clothes
In a glass, add several copper pennies and pour hot water over them. A blue dye will be released. Pour this dye over your faded blue clothes, allow it to sit for a few minutes, and then rinse off.
12. Use grapes to restore faded pink clothes
Add your faded pink clothes in a bucket. Take black grapes and place them in a pantyhose or stocking. Adjust the hose/stocking over the mouth of the bucket. Pour hot water over the grapes. The pink dye that is released will restore the color of your faded pink fabrics.
13. Use purple cabbage
Purple cabbage can be used in many different ways to restore different colors:
- Cabbage plus hot water releases a blue dye to restore faded blue clothes.
- Cabbage plus hot water plus vinegar gives a pink dye to restore faded pink clothes.
- Cabbage plus hot water plus baking soda gives teal to restore faded teal clothes.
14. Use logwood for purple clothes
Logwood chips soaked in hot water release a purple dye. You can use it to restore the faded purple clothing.
15. Use Eucalyptus leaves for orange clothes
Soak eucalyptus leaves in hot water until they release an orange dye. Use this to wash faded orange clothes.
16. Use lemons to brighten white clothes
White clothes often fade or catch the color of other clothes. To restore their whiteness, boil the faded white fabric in water along with a few lemon slices. Lemon juice acts as a bleach to restore the shine and brightness of whites.
Use these simple hacks to make your clothes look new again.