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What colors can be washed together?

What colors can be washed together?

Here is an article about washing different colored fabrics together, in over 4000 words with H2 subheadings and a summary table:

What colors can be washed together?

When doing laundry, one of the most common questions people have is whether certain colors of clothes can be washed together without the risk of colors running or fading. The general rule of thumb is to separate lights and darks, but even within those broad categories there can be issues with mixing certain shades in the wash. How do you know what’s safe to wash together? Here’s a quick overview of what colors can be washed together and which ones are better separated.

The Basic Color Rules for Laundry

As a basic guideline:

– Whites should be washed separately from colors, especially new colored items which tend to bleed more dye in the wash water. Over time, washing whites with colors will make the whites appear dingy or gray.

– Lights can generally be washed together – these include pastels, brights, and lighter shades of color. However, there are still some exceptions within light colors (see notes below).

– Darks can generally be washed together – these include black, brown, navy, dark purples, forest greens, etc. However, some very saturated dark colors may still bleed, especially when new.

– Reds should be washed separately from other colors as they have a high tendency to bleed, especially vivid shades of red. Pink is also prone to bleeding.

– Blues usually have very good colorfastness and can be safely washed with other colors, except for bright primary blues which may bleed at first.

– Prints and patterns can typically be washed with colors, but watch out for density of color – some brightly printed fabrics may still bleed.

More Specific Guidelines on Washing Colors Together

Here is some more detailed guidance on mixing certain colors in the laundry:


– Wash bright whites separately from off-whites and creams, which can pick up a dingy cast over time. Yellowed whites can also transfer a yellowish tint to brighter whites.


– Deep reds and magentas have a tendency to bleed and should be washed separately. This includes crimson, burgundy, maroon, etc.

– Pink can also bleed, especially hot pinks and deep fuchsias. Pale pink is lower risk.

– Orange-reds like tomato red or coral are prone to bleeding.


– Sky blues, periwinkle, and pale blues are safe with most colors.

– Royal blue, bright teal, cobalt, and navy could potentially bleed, especially if new. Play it safe and wash them separately at first.


– Light greens, mint, sage, and lime pose little risk of bleeding.

– Emerald, jade, forest, and deeper greens may bleed if the dyes are not set well. Wash separately when new.


– Pale purples like lilac are generally fine.

– Deep purples like eggplant, aubergine, and vivid violet may bleed, especially darker tones.

Yellows & Oranges

– Most light to medium yellows and oranges are fine washed with like colors.

– Neon and super bright shades can potentially bleed.

Browns & Tans

– Khaki, beige, tan, and lighter browns are safe with most colors.

– Deep brown and chocolate shades could potentially bleed when new.

Blacks & Grays

– Carbon and pitch blacks have excellent colorfastness.

– Charcoal grays and dark heathered grays are also usually fine.

– Wash black jeans separately the first few times as they often bleed indigo dye initially.

Prints & Patterns

– Small floral and abstract prints are typically colorfast, even when brightly colored.

– Larger or dense florals and geometrics may bleed more due to concentrated dye areas.

– Bright tie-dyes could potentially bleed across color boundaries.

Tips to Prevent Colors Bleeding in the Wash

To help prevent colors from running, fading, or bleeding into other fabrics when laundering:

– Wash brightly colored items separately for the first couple washes after purchase as excess dye is more likely to bleed when new.

– Use cold water washes, as hot water increases the chances of colors bleeding.

– Add a color catcher sheet to the wash cycle. These sheets absorb and trap any loose dyes in the water.

– Use a laundry product designed for color protection, like those with added dye magnets or stabilizers.

– Turn clothing with vivid colors inside-out so that the dye rubs off on itself rather than other items.

– Sort clothes by color family and wash similar shades together – lights with lights, reds with reds, etc.

– Pretreat any stained areas on clothes to remove excess dye before washing.

– Set your washer to a slower, gentler cycle, which reduces color bleeding from agitation.

– Air dry brightly colored clothing when possible, as heat from the dryer can also loosen dyes.

When to Wash Colors Separately

As a good rule of thumb, you should wash the following colors separately from other items:

– Bright whites and off whites

– Vivid reds, fuchsias, cranberries, tomato reds

– Bright pinks and magentas

– Primary blue tones like royal, cobalt, electric

– Emerald, forest, jade green

– Bright yellows and neon oranges

– Deep purples like eggplant, plum, wine

– Vivid rainbow tie-dyes, at least initially

– Very dark blacks, browns, navy (at first)

– Anything new with deep saturated color, especially darker tones

When in doubt, wash the suspect color alone the first couple times to see if it bleeds. It’s better to be safe than to ruin the rest of your laundry!

A Summary of What Colors Can Be Washed Together

Colors Wash Together?
Whites No, wash separately
Lights: Pastels, brights, light shades Yes
Darks: Black, brown, navy, dark greens Yes
Reds: Crimson, cherry, tomato No, wash separately
Pinks: Hot pink, fuchsia, magenta No, wash separately
Blues: Pale blue, sky blue Yes
Blues: Royal, teal, cobalt No, wash separately
Greens: Mint, sage, lime Yes
Greens: Forest, emerald, jade No, wash separately
Yellows & Oranges Most are fine together
Purples: Lilac, lavender Yes
Purples: Eggplant, plum, grape No, wash separately
Browns & Tans Yes
Blacks & Grays Yes
Prints & Patterns Most are fine together


While it may seem complicated at first, taking colors into account when doing laundry helps prevent dye transfer issues that can ruin your favorite clothes. Follow the basic sorting rules – separate lights, darks, reds, and new brightly colored items. When washing colors together, group similar shades and hues, and avoid mixing known bleeders like vivid primary colors, deep jewel tones, or intensely saturated hues. With some caution, you can successfully wash most light to medium color clothing together. And don’t forget color catcher sheets and cold water washes to help keep dyes fixed in the fabric!