Calling all laundry experts

I did it again. I fell for a rugby shirt for my older son with bright stripes in red and blue. Oh, and white stripes in between. And there’s the problem. For yea verily, I am 31 years old and I am afraid to put this shirt in my washing machine. Experience has told me that the white stripes will emerge pale greyish blue with a slightly pinkish cast, as the colors all mix together in a depressive mass.

There must be a way to wash garments with this kind of pattern, or else they wouldn’t sell because nobody would buy them. But so far I haven’t figured it out, in spite of years of experience. Would those of you who know how to work the magic please share your experience?

Cold water, gentle cycle with a less caustic detergent like Woolite. That would be my best shot.

Another option, if you are afraid to go the cold-water-wash-with-crossed-fingers route, is to use a professional dyer’s detergent the first time you wash it. I use Synthrapol because it binds the excess dyes so they rinse away without redepositing on the fabric. I use it for the first wash of my tie-dye creations and it works wonderfully. I also put a dye fixative in the first rinse to prevent fading.

I buy both of these products from, but I know that Synthrapol is also available in some craft stores.

Why don’t you read the instructions on it? Every new piece of clothing has instructions on it somewhere on how to wash it. It’ll tell you just what to do. Maybe it says ‘handwash?’ If so, do that.

Years ago I was told to use vinegar in the first wash of a new t-shirt to ‘set’ the dye & keep it from fading. I can’t remember how much or which kind of vinegar tho…

on the aside

…if you ever need to iron in a permanent seam, dampen the area w/ vinegar first

…if you let the wash sit too long and get that sour odor, white vinegar added to the rewash totally removes the odor.

A cold saltwater soak before washing will also set the color.