How to Keep Uniforms From Fading When Washing

by Anne Boynton ; Updated September 28, 2017

You can keep uniforms from fading in the wash.

Teenagers reading book image by Monika 3 Steps Ahead from

When you’ve invested in a set of uniforms, whether for work or school, it’s important to keep them looking sharp. The best way to accomplish this is by keeping the colors bright. Although it may seem that your uniforms will inevitably fade in the wash, you can help to keep uniforms from fading by following the right laundry routine.

Read each label of the uniform. Even a shirt and pants from the same uniform can have different washing and drying instructions. By reading the labels, you will get information about the proper water temperature and how to dry the uniform. Follow these instructions to avoid fading caused by using the wrong laundering methods, which can cause premature fading of the colors.

Turn uniforms inside out. The website OPH Good Housekeeping notes that turning clothes inside out before washing slows down the fading process. Turning uniforms inside out helps to protect the fibers on the outside of the fabric.

Sort your uniforms. If applicable, divide uniform parts by color in separate piles--that is, darks and lights. Also, separate particularly dirty work clothes from the rest of the wash. Darks usually have different fabric care instructions than lights. By separating your uniforms in this way, you can wash the dark garments at the cooler temperatures usually called for, keeping colors bright, and wash the lights at warmer temperatures without reducing the brightness by mixing in some color from the darks.

Select the right laundry detergent. Laundry detergents can contain additives such as bleach, which removes stains by fading them but can also fade the colors of your uniforms. You may want to spot-treat stains and use a regular laundry detergent that is bleach-free.

Use cold water. The use of hot water can often set stains in fabric, reducing the brightness of colors. Washing in cold water, which is less harsh on fabric fibers, can prolong the colors of your uniform.

Line-dry your uniforms, if possible. Machine drying can contribute more to fading than machine washing. An alternative is line-drying your uniforms or draping them over a rack. If this isn't an option, use milder temperature settings on your dryer, such as the low or delicate settings.

Mix vinegar into your wash. According to OPH Good Housekeeping, you can brighten up colors by adding approximately 150 milliliters of white vinegar to a load of laundry.


  • Wash your washing machine. According to OPH Good Housekeeping, washing machines should be cleaned periodically due to the buildup of mineral deposits such as lime, which can contribute to the fading of your uniform’s colors. The website suggests keeping the drum clean by adding a cup of lemon juice and a cup of water to an empty washing cycle (no garments), and then running it again on another hot washing cycle. You can also clean the washing powder dispenser by soaking it in hot water and using a piece of cotton or a Q-tip to clean the hard-to-reach spots.

Photo Credits

  • Teenagers reading book image by Monika 3 Steps Ahead from

About the Author

Based in Florida, Anne Boynton has been writing nonfiction articles since 2008. Her articles appear on various websites. Boynton has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2006.