Will my polo shirt fade?


How can I stop my clothing fading?

Colour fading occurs when the molecular attraction between the dye pigment and fabric is lost. The dye is usually applied as a layer of colour over the fabric strands. The main causes of fading are chemical and physical wear and tear.

Physical wear and tear can wear out the dye in the fabric causing it to fade, this can happen during the washing process if the recommended care guidelines for the specific type of fabric are not followed.

Chemical reactions that take place in the fabric also cause it to lose its pigment. These reactions are dependent on the type of dye used, the drying process and temperature. Bleaching of fabric occurs in sunlight. The UV radiation causes the dye pigment to break down in the fabric. It also occurs from exposure to the chemical form of bleach which can be found in laundry products.


Which fabric fades faster, Synthetic or Cotton?


Cotton fabric will fade faster than synthetic man-made fabric. Cotton is naturally white when extracted from the cotton plant. Therefore, all non-white cotton will have been dyed and likely to fade. The way the cotton fibres have been dyed also affect the speed at which it will fade. For example, denim fabric is usually brushed dyed meaning the dye is only on one side of the fabric, so will fade faster.

Polyester resists fading and holds colour better than cotton. This is because in the manufacturing process when dying the fabric is treated with a chemical solution that protects the dyed fibres from fading due to chemical changes or physical pressure.


Colourfast or Cured fabrics


Some fabrics will have been cured or treated so they are resistant to fading and are colourfast. Some manufacturers automatically cure garments whereas other do not, these are usually the less costly garments. Those garments that have been cured will be marked as colourfast or superwash (such as several of the Kustom Kit range of polo shirts).


So how do I prevent my fabric from fading?


Sort your clothes and wash the dark coloured clothes together.

Always turn dyed fabric inside out when washing and hanging out on the line to dry. Washing and drying clothes is rough on the outside of your clothing, so turning them inside out will reduce pilling and prevent the agitation and abrasion on the dye on the outside of the garment.

Use the correct water temperature as indicated on the care label when washing and try and wash at the lowest temperature possible.

Beware of the detergent you are using when washing. Try to choose a detergent that is formulated to prevent fading

Try not to overfill the washing machine. Overfilled machines have to work harder, so are tougher on clothes. It also means the detergent and water is not distributed evenly or washed away evenly.

Adhere to garment labels, this is particularly important if it is stated hand wash, only wash in cold water or drip dry.

If using a tumble dryer, beware not to over dry, as this will dull your bright colours and cause them to fade. When drying in the sun, turn your garments inside out as the UV light will accelerate fading.

Finally, you could always try adding some vinegar to your washing machine as this prevents fading, if you can handle the smell.


Do I need to wash my decorated clothes differently?


At Sigma Embroidery and Printing we will provide a care leaflet with all printed garments; this tells you how you should care for your garments. Adhere to this and you will get the most out of your garments.


Any questions on fading of clothing, then please drop us a line via email on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or give us a ring on 01353 863049.

Print   Email