Does Salt Stop Clothes From Fading? (here’s the truth)

There are several stories going around the internet that claim that adding salt to certain clothes before washing them will prevent the colours of those clothes from fading. In fact, doing a quick Google search brings back just under two million results on using salt to stop colours from fading.

But does it actually work? Or is it just another old wives tale? Keep reading to find out.

Where Did The Salt Stopping Clothes From Fading Originate?

We went as far back as we could and discovered a few interesting facts of our own. At the manufacturing plants where clothes are produced they use salt and vinegar to help the fabrics absorb dyes.

It turns out that when cotton yarn or cotton fabrics are dyed, salt is added to the dye soak to assist the fibres in absorbing the dye.

The same is true for vinegar on wool and certain synthetic materials such as nylon.

This means there is some basis in fact for using salt to get dyes into cotton fabrics. However, that’s as far as it goes, salt (or vinegar) will not help prevent rich colours from running in the wash.

Is Salt Good For Anything In The Wash?

Unfortunately this is another grey area, and one where many internet “experts” disagree. From our own experiments we have found that salt can be used to; 

  • Remove certain stains 
  • Brighten colours 
  • Remove Sweat stains 

How to Use Salt To Remove Stains

If your cotton or other natural fibres are stained, using salt can help to remove those stains for instance;

  • Blood
    If your natural fibre shirt has a blood stain, soak it in a bucket filled with cold saltwater for 1 to 2 hours. Then wash using a warm wash and your regular detergent. If the blood stain is still wet, you can usually remove it if you cover it with salt and blot it using cold water, keep adding cold water and blot the stain until it is gone completely.
  • Grease
    Cover a grease stain with salt and allow it to absorb the grease. Then simply brush the salt away, you might need to repeat until the grease is gone.
  • Gravy
    Cover a fresh gravy spill in salt and allow the salt to absorb as much of the gravy as possible. Then wash in the usual way.
  • Ink
    Salt should be rubbed into a fresh ink stain then the item should be soaked overnight in milk. Then wash as normal.
  • Wine
    To remove wine from cotton, cover the affected area with enough salt to absorb the liquid. Then soak the fabric in cold water for an hour before washing in the regular way.

How to Use Salt To Brighten Colours

You can brighten the colours on washable curtains and fibre rugs by washing them in a saltwater solution. You can revive a faded rug by rubbing with a strong saltwater solution.

How to Use Salt To Remove Sweat Stains

If your favourite t-shirt has yellow sweat stains around the armpits and/or collar, you can remove them using salt. 

It could be that those stains around the armpits that you thought were sweat stains could actually be deodorant stains.

This problem occurs mainly in hard water areas because the mineral content of the water actually prevents the deodorants from dissolving properly.

To remove those yellow sweat or deodorant stains all you need to do is mix 4 tablespoons of salt into 2 pints of water and soak the shirt in this mixture for 1 to 2 hours. Then wash in the regular way.

Washing Machine

Things To Consider Before Using Salt In The Laundry

Now we have a better idea of what using salt in the laundry can do, let’s look at the dos and don’ts of using salt.

  • Do Use Salt On Natural Fibres
    Salt works well on natural fibres like cotton, hessian etc. 
  • Do Use Salt For Help Removing Certain Stains
    Salt can work wonders for removing stains caused by; blood, gravy, ink, grease and wine.
  • Don’t Use Salt On Synthetic Materials
    Salt can be too harsh on some synthetic materials and cause more harm than good.
  • Don’t Use Salt Too Often
    Salt is naturally abrasive which means it could damage fibres if used too often.

How To Use Salt In An Effort To Prevent Colour Bleed

If after reading all of the above, you would still like to try to prevent colour bleed using salt, we have included the following for your information.

It seems there are 2 ways that can be used in an effort to prevent colours from bleeding from new clothes ( like black jeans etc). These are;

Soaking In A Salt Solution

To soak clothes in a salt solution all you need to do is;

  1. Fill a gallon bucket with warm water and mix in 1 cup of salt.
  2. Stir until all of the salt dissolves.
  3. Allow the water to cool.
  4. Submerge your jeans in the saltwater solution and leave to soak for 2 to 3 hours.
  5. Remove the jeans from the solution and rinse with cold water.
  6. Then wash in the washing machine on a cool, gentle wash cycle using a mild detergent.

Washing In The Washing machine Using Salt

If you don’t have the time or the patience to soak the jeans before washing, you can use this method instead. Just;

  1. Place the jeans into the drum of the washing machine.
  2. Mix a solution of ½ a cup of salt dissolved in a small amount of warm water.
  3. Pour this solution directly onto the jeans.
  4. Then pour ½ a cup of distilled white vinegar into the fabric conditioner dispenser.
  5. Wash on a cool, gentle wash using a mild detergent.

Ways To Help Prevent Clothes From Fading

Here are a few pointers to actually help prevent your clothes from fading so fast.

  • Don’t wash clothes after every wear
    Clothes don’t necessarily need to be washed after every wear. The more you wash your clothes, the more likely they are to fade. 
  • Use cool wash programs
    The hotter the water that’s used to wash clothes, the more likely they are to fade.
  • Turn clothes inside out before washing
    Turning clothes inside out before washing is a great habit to form. Because it protects the visible side of the clothes. It also helps to prevent any damage to prints etc on t-shirts.
  • Always wash dark colours together
    If you always bundle your clothes in colour order, you’re less likely to experience so much colour fade.
  • Use detergents specifically designed for colours
    You should always wash coloured clothes in a detergent specifically designed for use with coloured clothes. Never use a detergent with any type of bleaching agent on coloured garments.
  • Always use liquid detergents
    Powdered detergents are more abrasive and therefore more likely to damage your clothes and cause colours to fade.

SEE ALSO: How To Make White Clothes White Again

Frequently Asked Questions

Does salt restore colour in clothes?

Salt doesn’t restore colour in clothes however it is a fairly good stain remover.

What does salt do to clothes?

Salt is a good stain remover and can even help eliminate sweat stains and blood.

How can I prevent my clothes from fading?

You can prevent your clothes from fading by adhering to the care label’s directions, turning the clothes inside out before washing, using a cold water wash, using a gentle cycle, using detergents designed for colours and using liquid detergents instead of powdered detergents.

Does salt lock in colour?

Salt is used in the dyeing process to help the natural fibres absorb colour. But it doesn’t prevent colours from running during a wash cycle.

Is there a way to darken faded clothes?

The best way to darken faded clothes is to apply a fabric dye.

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