Color Fastness: How to Test and Preserve It

Title: Color Fastness: How to Test and Preserve It


Color fastness is an essential aspect of maintaining the vibrancy of fabrics and textiles. It refers to the resistance of a material to fade or change color when exposed to various environmental factors such as light, water, and friction. Understanding how to test and preserve color fastness is crucial in ensuring the longevity of your garments and household fabrics. In this article, we will discuss different methods to test color fastness and provide tips on preserving the colors of your favorite items.

1. Understanding Color Fastness

Before delving into testing methods, it is essential to grasp the different aspects of color fastness. There are several factors that can cause color fading or bleeding, including washing, exposure to sunlight, contact with chemicals, and abrasion. Considering these factors will help you understand why color fastness testing is crucial for maintaining the appearance of your fabrics.

2. What Are the Color Fastness Testing Methods?

There are various standardized tests to determine the color fastness of textiles. These tests measure different aspects such as light fastness, wash fastness, and rubbing fastness. Let’s explore some of the commonly used methods:

2.1 Light Fastness Testing

Light fastness determines how resistant a material is to fading when exposed to UV light. This test is particularly important for fabrics that will be exposed to sunlight for extended periods. ISO 105-B02 and AATCC 16 are popular methods used to test light fastness.

2.2 Wash Fastness Testing

Wash fastness testing assesses the color bleeding or fading of fabrics caused by washing. This test simulates the effect of repeated laundering. ISO 105-C06 and AATCC 61 are commonly used methods to evaluate wash fastness.

2.3 Rubbing Fastness Testing

Rubbing fastness determines how color transfers from one fabric to another during friction, such as rubbing against another fabric or abrasion from daily wear. ISO 105-X12 and AATCC 8 are widely used methods for assessing rubbing fastness.

3. Preserving Color Fastness

Now that we understand color fastness testing, let’s explore some effective ways to preserve the color of your garments and textiles:

3.1 Sort and Wash Separately

Different fabrics and colors have varying color fastness properties. To prevent colors from bleeding or fading, sort your laundry by color and fabric type. Washing lights with lights and darks with darks ensures that colors won’t transfer between garments.

3.2 Use Cold Water

Hot water can cause dyes to bleed and fade faster. Opt for cold water when washing colored items to minimize color loss. Additionally, using a gentle or delicate cycle can also help preserve color fastness.

3.3 Turn Clothes Inside Out

To minimize color fading and protect delicate fabrics, turn your clothes inside out before washing. This reduces friction and minimizes direct contact between the fabric and detergent.

3.4 Avoid Overwashing

Washing your clothes too frequently can contribute to color fading. Follow the care instructions on your garments and avoid unnecessary washing. Spot cleaning or air-drying can be effective alternatives for maintaining color fastness.

3.5 Use Color-Safe Detergents

Choose detergents specifically formulated for colored fabrics. These detergents are designed to be gentler on colors and help preserve their vibrancy. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals that could damage the fabric and affect color fastness.

3.6 Dry Away from Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight can cause colors to fade over time. When drying colored garments, choose a shaded area or an indoor spot away from direct sunlight. This simple step can go a long way in preserving color fastness.

3.7 Store Properly

When not in use, ensure your colored garments are stored in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight. This will help prevent fading or discoloration caused by prolonged exposure to light and moisture.


Maintaining color fastness is essential for preserving the appearance and longevity of your fabrics and textiles. By understanding the different aspects of color fastness and following simple preservation tips, you can ensure that your favorite items retain their vibrant colors for years to come. Regularly testing color fastness and adopting appropriate care practices will help you enjoy the beauty of your garments and household fabrics for longer. Remember, a little care can go a long way in preserving color fastness.