General Question

JeSuisRickSpringfield's avatar

Does laundry detergent formulated for darks actually do anything different?

Asked by JeSuisRickSpringfield (700 points ) 2 months ago

There are various laundry detergents that claim to be specially formulated for dark clothes. Do they actually prevent fading any better than other detergents, or is it just a marketing ploy?

Opinions based on personal experience welcome, but extra credit for objective evidence.

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10 Answers

Lightlyseared's avatar

It tends not to contain compounds that might bleach the colour out.

Response moderated (Flame-Bait)
nettodo's avatar

Many “for darks” detergents may contain a chlorine neutralizer which may prevent premature fading. They may also have a formula that lacks certain ingredients, such as enzymes, bleaches, or optical brighteners, and may be a gentler formula. Note the use of “may”. A lot of times, it really is marketing jargon. You’re better off with a gentle-enough detergent, washing in cold, and either line-drying or tumble-drying at the lowest temperature, than buying a separate detergent just for dark clothes.

JeSuisRickSpringfield's avatar

@nettodo All of my clothes are dark, so it wouldn’t be a separate detergent in my case. But it’s hard to find where I am, and the only dark formula that is reliably in stock costs about 50% more than what I would get otherwise. So if it doesn’t do anything special, I’m not going to pay for it.

(Woolite for Darks is the brand, by the way.)

ibstubro's avatar

Negligible difference, in my opinion. Woolite is already incredibly mild.

Have you had a problem with fading?

From what I’ve heard, turning your clothes inside-out before washing will help more than special detergent.

JeSuisRickSpringfield's avatar

@ibstubro I don’t think I’ve had any major problem with fading. But all of my clothes are dark, and I tend to keep them in good shape for a very long time (as in decades). So it’s worth it to me to use a detergent formulated for darks if they actually do anything. If not, though, I can just dye them when they start fading.

nettodo's avatar

@JeSuisRickSpringfield I’m looking at the ingredients/MSDS for that brand, and it doesn’t list anything special on the MSDS. It probably is just a gentle formula with a not-so-gentle markup. It probably isn’t worth as much as it says on the tin, but if it makes you more comfortable, use it. In my experience, a good-quality natural detergent and washing in cold keeps clothing just as wonderful as these “special formulas”.

Background: My wardrobe consists of bright colors, which can be just as fussy as darks in regards to washing, but the colors have stayed strong. In fact, I’m wearing a shirt that I bought 4 years ago and it’s just as bright.

ibstubro's avatar

I have a pair of jeans that someone once paid $250 for, and the washing instructions say to wash them inside out to preserve the color. I’ve seen the admonition on other, similarly overpriced, clothing. I do it with the jeans, and it seems to work.

JeSuisRickSpringfield's avatar

@nettodo Actually, the problem is that it might be making me uncomfortable. So if they don’t do anything, I have no reason at all not to ditch them. And it looks like you’ve found some good evidence that it’s just not worth it.

@ibstubro If it’s good enough for expensive clothes, it’s good enough for mine! I think I’m going to combine the advice I got from you and @nettodo. A natural detergent, and washing inside out.

nettodo's avatar

@JeSuisRickSpringfield Allergic reactions are not fun. No, not at all. Glad I could be of assistance.

Anecdote: I once had an allergic reaction to my laundry. I didn’t figure it out until I stopped using a certain additive and the itching went away. Before then, it was not fun at all to be constantly itching.

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