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A Cleaner World Blog

Over the years, I have confessed my color loss mishaps – like the time I accidently splashed bleach on Matt’s shirt or when I attempted to remove marker from Gray’s shirt one too many times, but not all color loss issues are self-imposed. 

So, what typically causes color loss?

Self-imposed.  We’ve discussed many of these things before either through blogs posts or on Facebook. Not only can splashing bleach on a garment or making too many attempts on stain removal cause color loss, but so can cleaning solutions, hair care products, perfume, and everyday products that contain alcohol.

Manufacturing of garment.  For instance, dyes that are not colorfast to water or cleaning agents are the biggest manufacturing-related issue reported by the Dry Cleaning & Laundry Institute labs.  What happens is when the garment is cleaned in either the dry cleaning or wet cleaning process, even in accordance to the directions on the care label, the dye on the garment dissolves.   

Sunlight.  In fact, not only prolonged exposure to sunlight, but also prolonged exposure to artificial light can cause color loss.  When this happens, it is typically only on one side of the fabric. 

Fumes.  When certain fumes encounter heated surfaces and form nitrogen oxide gases, they can react with certain dyes on acetate and nylon fabrics and cause them to change color, typically from blue to red.

Exposure to acidic or alkaline substances.  Translation – everyday life can cause color loss.  Contact with fruit juice, beverages, food, and other acidic substances can cause blue dyes to turn red; contact with perspiration and other alkaline solutions can turn blue or green dyes yellow. Alkalines can also decompose fluorescent brighteners on white fabrics, causing them to discolor. The good news with this category, if the exposure is treated immediately by a professional, the affect can likely be reversed. 

Some other things to keep in mind – the level of loss depends on the concentration of the staining substance, the dye's sensitivity, and the length of time the substance remains on the fabric. Sometimes there is immediate loss in color while other times the loss may be gradual.  Color loss caused by acidic or alkaline substances may be reversible if treated immediately, while other types of color loss, such as contact with alcohol or bleach, are permanent.

If you have questions about color loss, or garment care in general, feel free to stop by any one of our locations.  We are here to help.

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