Does Sun Drying Clothes Cause Them To Fade?

If you live in a place with abundant sunlight, you probably already know how great the sun can be for drying your clothing.

There are many advantages to sun drying clothes, especially to our environment. However, there are also some cons to it that you’ll need to watch out for. One of them is the dreaded “sun fading”.

Does the sun fade your clothes?

Yes, hanging your clothes to dry directly under the sun can cause them to fade. This is mainly because of the ultraviolet rays that penetrate the dyed textiles[1].

Simply put: If your clothes are always exposed to direct sunlight, it’ll cause a chemical reaction that will result in discolouration and fading.

How long does it take for the sun to fade clothing?

The effect of the UV rays from the sun is not exactly instantaneous.

Clothes hanging outdoors

It’ll probably depend on how long and how often you leave your clothes out to dry, and also what kind of fabric they are.

Ways to protect your clothes from sun fading

Unfortunately, sun-faded clothing is very difficult to fix and bring back to its original state. Hence, it’s best, in this case, to focus on prevention rather than the cure.

To protect your clothes from fading due to the sun’s UV rays, do the following:

Take note of the care label

Care labels, or those tags on the inside of your clothing, serve as a guide to preserve them.

It contains little symbols that allow you to know if they should only be hand washed, not tumble dried, and more.

Always check the wash care labels

Before you hang your clothes, check if your clothing is recommended for line drying.

Note: There are many ways to dry your clothing. Some garments can be immediately hung outside, while some are only meant to be dried under the shade.

Turn your clothing inside out

To lessen the effects of UV rays on your clothes, one of the best tips to combat fading is hanging them inside out. This means that before you hang them on your line to dry, make sure that the part that is normally inside is already facing outward.

What does this do? When clothing is hung inside out, this means that the outer layer that will face direct sunlight will fade faster. This keeps the inner layer protected for the time being.

Unfortunately, if the fabric is thin, this method may not be very effective.

Avoid overdrying

It’s no secret that the combination of the sun’s heat and the wind outdoors dry clothing at a much faster rate.

To prevent discolouration, make sure to get your clothes immediately inside once they are already dry. Hanging them out for too long is just not necessary as doing so every time will just make it fade.

If you struggle to bring your clothes back in from the line, using a drying rack may be more convenient for you.

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Put coloured clothing in the shade

White clothes are great to hang out to dry directly under the sun due to their bleaching properties.

On the other hand, coloured clothes will fade over time when constantly exposed to UV rays. If you’re using a washing line, observe which parts may be blocked by a tree or shaded by a particular building. Once you identify them, strategically hang your coloured clothing in those areas to minimise sun exposure.

Clothes on a clothes line

Use mild detergents and softeners

Did you know that many detergents and fabric softeners are too harsh and can also hasten the discolouration process of your clothing?

To avoid this, make sure that you’re using brands that are mild and do not also cause fading. Rinse your clothing properly as well as it could be bad for leftover detergents to remain on fabrics while exposed to the sun.

Note: Use the proper proportion of soap in your laundry! More detergent does not necessarily mean cleaner clothing.

Be mindful of the type of fabrics you have

Hanging clothes out on the line makes them dry quickly. However, avoid sun-drying clothes that should only be air or tumble dried.

Linens and everyday clothing are generally okay to dry out in the sun. Denim is best dried in the shade to prevent discolouration.

Trousers on drying rack

Should you avoid drying your clothes in the sun?

Of course not! Although there are certainly cons to drying your clothes in the sun, the benefits of doing so greatly overweigh them.

Benefits of sun drying clothes

When you hang your clothes to dry, you’ll be able to:

  • Reduce ecological footprint
  • Save money
  • Preserve your clothing
  • Disinfect your clothing
  • Reduce your exposure to chemicals
  • Get more exercise

Keep your clothes in tiptop shape

Yes, it’s correct that the sun’s rays can cause our clothes to discolour. However, like other things, not everything will stay “perfect” forever. It is absolutely natural for clothing to fade in time.

When we make use of the free dryer we have in our backyards, our garments will be free from mould, smell great, and look fresh. As long as you practice the tips we mentioned above to minimise fading, you’ll get to enjoy crisp and bright clothing for a much longer time.

How often do you leave your clothes out in the sun to dry? Let us know below!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does drying clothes in the sun bleach them?

Yes, leaving clothes out in the sun makes them lighter due to their natural bleaching properties.

How long does it take the sun to bleach clothes?

The sun does not instantly bleach clothing. If you intentionally want to bleach your clothes, it would be best to use lemon juice to soak them before directly placing them under the sun.

How do I keep my clothes from fading in the sun?

To keep clothing from fading in the sun, avoid exposing it directly to the sun’s rays.

How do you fix sun-discoloured clothes?

It’s difficult to fix sun-discoloured clothes. A mixture of baking soda and vinegar while washing the garment may work.

Does the sun fade black clothes?

Yes, dark-coloured clothes can easily fade when constantly exposed to the sun.

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