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Thread: prevent fabric from fading in the wash

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    I know this question has been discussed before - I saw it, but I cannot find it now so I apologize for asking again.

    How can I keep fabric from fading when I pre-wash it? I thought I've seen someone say you can add vinegar, or salt or something. Does that work? If so, how much do I add?

    Thanks for any advice!

  2. #2
    Super Member Maride's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    New York, NY
    You can use Retaine. It will set the colors and prevent fading. The bottle tells you how much to use. You can find it at your LQS.


  3. #3
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Western Wisconsin
    Blog Entries
    From what I have read, the old-fashioned dye-setting chemicals such as vinegar and salt that worked on natural dyes don't work anymore because fabrics are almost all dyed with chemicals now.

    Do you have a concern about a specific fabric? People who prewash their fabrics (not all quilters prewash) typically just use a mild soap and wash as usual. Orvus is a soap specifically made for washing quilts, but I don't think most quilters use it also to prewash fabrics.

    Retayne sets unset dye in fabric and is suitable for setting home dye jobs, one-color fabrics that you think might run, and fabrics you know are running.

    Synthrapol suspends unset dye particles in water so they can be rinsed away instead of settling in other fabrics (bleeds). It is often used the first few times a quilt is washed. (You would never use Retayne to wash a quilt, because it would set any unwanted bleeds.)

    Most fabrics these days are colorfast for washing. Most fading comes from exposure to sunlight or other light sources (including flourescent lighting). Fabric is manufactured to meet minimum requirements for exposure to light before fading. Not sure what they are right now, but actually they're quite minimal. In the interests of safety, some chemicals that were better at preventing fading are no longer used.

    Sorry if this is more info that you were looking for! :roll:

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    I have bought some fabric in Nigeria so I wasn't sure if they would be more likely to fade than fabric purchased in the U.S.

    I have washed some previously that came out okay, but this time I'm really focused on a quilt I want to be nice so I wanted to take precaustions just in case.

    Thanks for the help!

  5. #5
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    Quote Originally Posted by Prism99
    Orvus is a soap specifically made for washing quilts, but I don't think most quilters use it also to prewash fabrics.
    Sorry, but this struck me as funny. Marketing is everything. Actually Orvus was made for washing horses and cows, and is now also sold for quilts. You can pay about $8 for 8 oz marked for quilts, or about $18 for 7.5 pounds at a farm and ranch store.

  6. #6
    Senior Member crashnquilt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Lebanon, Missouri
    You can also use Epsom Salts. Just throw in about a cup per load. Works great.

  7. #7
    Moderator Jim's Gem's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Camarillo, California
    I used to buy it at the feed store too for my quilts. It's lots less expensive there. That was before you could find it anywhere else!!! And I don't have a horse!

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