All dyed fabric will fade eventually, from washing and sun exposure. Eco-printed cotton does fade more quickly than synthetically dyed cotton but there are a few ways you can reduce this to enjoy your fabric for longer.
I find that machine washing eco-printed fabric is fine, although I recommend hand washing for very special items. More important is to use a mild washing detergent. Most washing powders and liquids are too harsh and will quickly strip off the natural plant dyes. I use soap nuts, which can often be bought from health food stores or co-ops. Simply soak the soap nuts in boiling water for a few minutes, then add this liquid to the washing machine.
UV rays in sunlight will also fade dyed fabric over time. After washing eco-printed clothing, dry them in the shade or at least turned inside out. Bring them in as soon as they have dried and store in the dark. Also, try to avoid wearing eco-printed clothing if you will be in direct sun all day.
I have some eco-printed clothing that is still looking quite good after a couple of years of gentle wear. Once they become faded, clothes that have previously been eco-printed also tend to re-dye well. Re-mordant the fabric then dye as usual. Faint traces of the previous print can be seen on the cotton sample below, providing a lovely ghost effect.
7 thoughts on “How to prevent fading of eco-print fabrics”
I really enjoyed the article. Very Informative.Thank you for sharing it!
Thank you for the information. This is an important information for eco friendly fabric dyeing and its maintenance.
I just made my first Tshirts with Eco printing. It’s wet and drying. Can I put it in the dryer to dry now instead?
I just did my first Eco printing shirt. It’s wet and drying outside in the shade now. Can I dry it in the dryer instead? Thank you!
I haven’t tried it but it’s probably fine. The only possible problem I can think of is that the heat could change the colour of the prints – I’ve seen that happen with avocado dye. But if you cooked the bundles at a very high temperature, then I don’t think it would matter.
Your blog is amazing. Lovely documentary of your experiments! Soap nuts can be used to wash naturally dyed cottons too? Have you any opinion on it. Will it be gentle on the natural dyes or will it dull them quicker? Thank you in advance for any response. Have a nice day
Hello Diya. Yes, I’ve used soap nuts for many years and found them to be very good for washing eco-prints. Sun exposure is always going to cause a lot more noticable fading than any gentle detergent.