Not all colored fabrics are created equally. Although color performance has improved with  modern technology, failures may still occur. Here are some things that we have to be aware of.

Care Labels

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires manufacturers to attach a permanent care label to textile garments providing directions for their care. That care label is intended to provide both consumers and garment care specialists guidance on how to care for a garment. A garment labeled “Dryclean” should have dyes that can withstand drycleaning, and “Washable” garments should have dyes that will perform well when washed.

The best way for manufacturers to determine care procedures is through testing. Unfortunately, this is not always done and sometimes can mean less than satisfactory cleaning results. 

Here are some tips to ensure the best color performance of your garments:

• Always read and follow care instructions.

• Protect white and colored garments from excessive exposure to light.

• When in doubt, ask us before you do anything. 

Washable & Water-Based Dyes

Some dyes are water-soluble resulting in discoloration when laundered or exposed to rain, perspiration, or water. Since many stains require water and water-soluble agents for removal, even dry cleanable items should have water-resistant dyes.

Water can also cause problems with sizing that is applied during manufacturing to provide body in fabrics such as rayon. Water spills may cause sizing to migrate and form dark rings or streaks as they dry. This occurrence is particularly difficult to remedy on dry cleanable fabrics because it requires additional water to remove the sizing disturbance.

Color Loss in Dry Cleaning

A dye that is soluble in dry cleaning may fade during care. If two or more dyes have been used and only one is soluble, there is a good possibility of a dramatic color change. For example, if a yellow dye component of a green garment were to break down, you could be left

with a blue garment! There is no way of knowing this in advance. Another dramatic example of color failure could be a blue garment that retains its color, while its blue and white surface-print may fade so that the blues no longer match. Occurrences such as this example are

rare, but they can happen in the first cleaning or progress with each subsequent cleaning.


Fading may occur in household items such as bedspreads and draperies. Often the fading may not be noticeable until the item is compared with a matching item. We recommend that all matching items be dry cleaned or laundered at the same time to ensure color uniformity.

Dye Deterioration from Light and Chemicals

Most dyes eventually fade with exposure to sun or artificial light. Color failure may occur rapidly on exposed areas of garments such as shoulders, collars, and sleeves. Particularly sensitive are blue, green, and lavender dyes, especially those used on silk or wool fabrics.

Common household substances can also be culprits of color loss. Be careful not to expose fabrics to alkaline toiletries such as toothpaste or shampoo. Hairspray, perfume, and deodorant contain alcohol which may cause color loss on silk or rayon. Even the acidity

of lemon juice affects some dyes. Color loss as a result of these situations might not be visible until after the garment is cleaned. Bleach, a component in many household cleaning products and skin or hair preparations, is one of the most common causes of color loss and fabric damage.