What Temperature Do Colours Run At? (the full guide)
It is safe to assume that to prevent colours from running, you need to use a cold or cool wash cycle. Any temperature above 40 degrees C is likely to cause colours in some fabrics to run. As well as increasing the risk of those items shrinking too.
There is no exact temperature that causes colours to run, it depends on a number of factors…
These factors include; the type of fabric, the density of the fibres used to make that fabric, the type of dye used to colour the clothes and how that dye was fixed into the fabric.
Always Consult The Wash Care label
The first step in preventing colours running in your wash is to check the wash care label. If the care label indicates that the item should be washed at a cool temperature, or that you should turn the item inside out, this is a good sign that the item is expected to run.
Another good sign of colour leakage is a sign that says “wash before wear”
What Temperature Is Enough To Prevent Colours Running?
As we said earlier, there is no safe temperature which will completely eliminate colours from running in the wash. This is because there are too many variables to factor in.
However, washing clothes on a cold wash of 20 or 30 degrees is a good place to start. Of course, you should always separate colours from whites and only wash similar colours together to minimise any colour spillage.
Will Colours Run At 20 Degrees?
A 20 degree C wash cycle is considered to be a cold wash. Clothes are far less likely to run if washed in cold water. This is because the fibres don’t relax as much in cold water as they would in hotter water.
Will Colours Run At 30 Degrees?
There are no absolutes when it comes to the likelihood of colours running in the washing machine. But colours are far less likely to run at 30 degrees compared with higher temperatures.
You should still wash similar colours together and separate whites from colours, but at 30 degrees your clothes should be OK.
Will Colours Run At 40 Degrees?
At 40 degrees you run a higher risk of colours running than at 30 degrees. There’s a chance that your clothes will be OK but it’s not guaranteed.
If you’re in any doubt, we’d recommend washing at 30 or even 20 degrees to prevent any colour fade or running.
Will Colours Run At 60 Degrees?
The reality is that the higher the temperature of the water, the more likely the colours are to run. If you don’t want your light clothes picking up any dye or your coloured clothes fading, you should wash them at lower temperatures.
Having said that, it’s perfectly fine to wash whites at 60 degrees as long as the wash care label allows.
Is It Possible To Prevent Colours From Running In The Wash?
As we said earlier, it is a good idea to wash clothes at a lower temperature to help prevent the colours from running. There are also some other ways to help prevent colours from running. These include;
Adding ½ a cup of salt to the wash cycle along with your regular detergent can help make the colours fast. It’s not an exact science but it can help.
Another way to help prevent colours running is to add 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. Again this is not a 100% cure but it can help.
Using Colour Catcher Sheets
- Prevent Colour Run Accidents – Colour Catchers effectively trap colours that bleed into the water during the wash. The proof is on the sheet!
- Allow Mixed Washes – Colour Catcher sheets protect against colour transfer and allow mixed colour washes. This enables less sorting, leads to fewer washloads and helps saving water and energy.
Colour catcher sheets are sheets of material that are placed in the drum with your laundry. They work by trapping the dyes as they leak from clothes and prevent them leaking onto other items in the wash.
Never Overload Your Machine
If you place too many items into the drum of the machine, they are likely to rub against each other. The friction this causes can easily transfer the colours from one item to another.
The more items in the drum, the more likely colours are to transfer from one to another.
Many items that suffer from colour run settle down after a few washes. So as long as you wash similar colours together when they’re new, they should be OK.
However, that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. Some clothes will lose colour during every wash. Much of it depends on where and how the garment was made and the dye used as well as the process used to fix the dye.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s not impossible for colours to run at 30 degrees, but it is far less likely. Colours tend to run more the hotter the water temperature is so a 30 degree wash is your best option to decrease the risk of colours running.
Colours are more likely to run if washed at 40 degrees than they would at 30 degrees. To help prevent colours from running, you should aim to wash your clothes at the lowest possible temperature.
Clothes are far more likely to run at 60 degrees. The hot water relaxes the fibres of the fabric which is why the clothes clean better at 60 degrees. However, that same relaxation of fibres can cause dyes to be released.