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Taking Care of Monochromes

Monochrome: White Load or Black Load?

Monochrome may have been big in the 1960s, but it’s even bigger now! This playful, sophisticated, retro look is all over the catwalk, with Diane Von Furstenberg, Ralph Lauren, and Carolina Herrera models all rocking this trend on the runways recently. More and more of us are filling our summer wardrobe with black and white mini skirts, maxi dresses, and loose-fitting tees in preparation for being right on trend during the warmer months; but there is one very big problem with monochrome – how on earth do you wash it?

If you’ve ever read any websites designed around passing on advice around laundry or proper detergent use, or listened to advice from older relatives, you will have caught onto the important basics, the first of which is: Always wash lights and darks separately. It’s a good idea – it prevents the colours from running, and stops your favourite crisp white shirts turning a ‘lovely’ shade of bubble gum pink. But what, then, do you do with monochrome patterned fabric? Does it belong in the white load, or the black load? The problem with putting it in with the black load is that the garment, or other dark-coloured items, may discolour the white parts of the clothing. The problem with a white load is that the black of the garment could discolour all your other light-coloured clothing. So what’s the solution?

Tip# 1: The Vinegar Trick

Many dyes used to colour clothing is natural, sourced from pigments in plants. As they’re natural, they tend to be vulnerable to the effects of water, which is why the colours can run in the washing machine. However, they’re also vulnerable to acid. A popular cleaning tip is to soak monochrome garments in vinegar before washing for the first time. The acidity of the vinegar removes any excess dye that’s sitting on the surface of the fabric, so the clothing is less likely to run in the washing machine.

White Load or Black Load: White! As the black dye is less likely to run, there’s no reason you can’t put your monochrome clothes in with a light-coloured load.

Tip #2: Laundry Sheets

Laundry sheets can be found in the cleaning aisle of any major supermarket, and actually work very well with monochrome garments. All you need to do is pop one of these sheets into the washing machine with your clothing, and wash as you normally would. The sheets are coated with a chemical that essentially attracts dye like a magnet, so that when colour runs from the fibres, it’s caught in these sheets before it has time to stain any other clothing.

White Load or Black Load: Either! A laundry sheet catches any dye that runs from clothing, so it shouldn’t matter if you put your monochrome garments into a light load or a dark load.

Tip #3: Wash at 30

Many of us automatically wash at 40 degrees, or even higher if we’re dealing with heavily soiled clothing. However, not only is this bad for the environment (and for our household bills!), but higher temperatures can also encourage dye to run. Temperatures of 40 degrees or more can melt both natural and synthetic dyes, causing them to run in the washing machine. Washing at 30 degrees reduces the chance of this happening, and it also means the machine uses less energy to heat the water – so this simple tip can even save you a little money.

White Load or Black Load:
Black! While the risk of dye running is reduced, there is still a tiny chance it could happen. It’s much better to have one garment discoloured than a whole machine-full of ruined clothes.

As you can see, there are a number of ways to wash monochrome outfits, so there’s no reason to shy away from one of this season’s hottest trends. Follow these cleaning tips and you can be sure your retro black and white styles will remain looking fresh and trendy all summer.

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