All About Bleeding, Crocking, and Fading

Color bleeding occurs when fabrics get submerged in water, causing the dye in them to leach out. Crocking, another variant of running dye, is the color transfer that occurs when fabric rubs against other textiles, furniture, shoes, or skin. When it comes to color fading, it pertains to the loss of vibrancy and depth of fabric. These are typical problems that occur when the dye has not properly adhered to the fabric.

Running Dye That Can Be Controlled

There are many reasons as to why colors crock, fade, or bleed. The following are avoidable through monitoring:

  • Overcrowding the washer and using harsh detergents can take a toll on fabrics. It causes micro-breakages in the fibers that force dyes to bleed out.
  • Overusing bleaching products and excessive exposure to the sun cause fabrics to fade and release dyes.
  • Subsequent submersion of fabrics in hot water allows dyes to wash out in the long run.

Running Dye That Can’t Be Controlled

However, if the loss of color is due to the following reasons, it is usually beyond control:

  • Continuous bleeding of excess dye due to insufficient washing and rinsing after the dyeing process.
  • Use of poor quality or incorrect dye for the material, as well as incorporating inaccurate dyeing techniques.
  • Failure to use fixatives or mordants to bind the dye to the fabric.

What Is A Mordant?

A mordant, also known as a dye fixative, is a substance used to set dyes on fabrics. Mordants form a coordinating complex with dyes as part of its mechanism, making colorants adhere to the fabric.

Natural dyes will not stick to natural fibers without the use of a mordant or fixative. While achieving beautiful, vivid results from natural dyes are possible; it will soon wash out and fade without the use of fixatives to lock the color in place.

Fabrics treated with mordants must be washed in cold water since hot temperatures can wash it out. If the mordant washes out, it will no longer bind the dye to the fabric.

Preventive Measures

A common misconception circulating the internet is that washing fabrics with vinegar or salt prevent dyes from running. Unfortunately, there is no truth to this myth. A few solutions that guarantee the prevention of color running are as follows:

1. Use Dye Fixatives: Treat fabrics with color mordants or fixatives such as Retayne or Rit Dye Fixative. Dye fixatives reduce colorants from bleeding out of fabrics where the dye has not been properly washed out.

2. Be gentle: The friction that occurs during washing causes micro-breakages that allow dyes to detach from fibers, urging them to leach out. Rough washing is one of the reasons why there’s an apparent fading in fabrics over time.

3. Wash fabrics of the same color together:  Colorants bleeding, crocking, or fading are not limited to newly dyed textiles. The mordants used to bind the dye to the fiber can weaken after repeated washing. It’s important to wash similar colors together to prevent them from staining fabrics of other colors.

Regardless of the type of material and how many times it has been washed, the possibility of bleeding, crocking, and fading can’t be ruled out unless preventive measures are taken.

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