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How To Stop Clothes From Bleeding Color - In Indian Cotton (Episode 1)

In the process of making our Men's Jackets, I gave the prototypes to the male friends who volunteered to check the fit. When I met one of them after some weeks, I was surprised to see the jacket he was wearing. The grey color had faded to veeerrrry light grey.
I also wear lots of prototypes myself, but I had never made the color bleeding and fading this much.

How did the color bleed and fade so much in his jacket?

He lives away from his family and washes his clothes himself. He washed the prototype jacket (hand-dyed Indian cotton) just like he does mass-produced men’s shirts and Tshirts.

Come to think of it, in India, women have at least a few clothes of natural hand-dyed cotton, like sarees, dresses, kurtas, dupattas, salwars. They have experiences of making the color bleeding or fading, and they have a tip or two to stop clothes from bleeding color.
On the other hand, men wear mainly the clothes which were dyed with chemical dye, like men’s shirts or Tshirts, unless he's a lover of the hand-dyed kurtas. Their few clothes which bleed colors would be new denim jeans or red Tshirts. They might not know how to wash coloured clothes which are losing colour.

I decided to make a blog post on the care for clothes with Indian hand-dyed cotton fabrics, hopefully with the help of you experienced people in MIRCHI KOMACHI gang. 

clothes after washing in a washing machine, all pink

Wear Clothes For A Long Time

MIRCHI KOMACHI is a clothing brand, but we don’t want to encourage people to buy new clothes one after another.
For the environment, for Mottainai Spirit, we want people to select even daily clothes without compromise and buy only the ones they love, wear them for as long as possible, upcycle them to something else, and at the end use for cleaning… make the best use of the clothes.
To enjoy clothes for the longest, obviously, the original colours and shapes need to be sustained (except for the clothes you enjoy colour changes, like denim jeans).

Basic Way Of Washing & Drying

On MIRCHI KOMACHI website, on each product page, we put the instruction basically:
-   Handwash, or use a laundry net when machine wash
We quit encouraging our customers to do dry-cleaning from the environmental consideration.

When you wash MIRCHI KOMACHI clothes at home, the basic points are:
     Wash immediately after wearing --- To avoid the stains linger on.
     Wash separately at least for the first few washes.
     With ordinary-temperature water --- Color bleeding happens more when the water temperature is high.
     Hopefully with neutral detergents. The detergents with bleach would make the color bleed.
     If you wash in a washing machine,
     -     Put in a washing net to avoid friction and keep the shape
     -     Delicate Mode if available 
     -     Wash quickly. Don’t keep them in the water or spun condition for a long time
laundry net bags
            laundry nets

     Dry in breezy shade --- To avoid color fading from the sunlight
     Dry outside in --- To avoid colour fading from the sunlight
     Press from inside --- To maintain the print/colours/embroidery

A lot? But they're basics. Indian women (as of now, mostly it’s women who wash clothes, na? (-_-;) ) have been doing these daily, I guess.
I have created a page CARE on our website and put this basic care points there. I hope it helps even one customer to wear our clothes for a longer time.

FYI, as for shrinkage, we soak all the fabrics in water before cutting and sewing, so that the fabrics shrink as much as they want. When I measure the length after drying them, I see them shrunk 5-10%. They might shrink some more after customers wash them, but the shrinkage rate should be pretty little.

How To Keep Fabric Dye From Bleeding

Now. Above was only basic care.
As for color bleeding, I searched a lot on the internet at this opportunity and found out that the major methods people take are using salt and/or vinegar.

In Japan, traditional clothes like Kendo clothes or festival clothes are dyed with indigo, so we also have traditional ways of care, which are also salt and/or vinegar.
Although completely avoiding indigo color bleeding is impossible since indigo is only upon the surface of the fibre, many people say salt avoids the water to dissolve the dye. They say salt includes components like magnesium and calcium, and they bind together with dye and stabilise. When they’re stable, they don’t dissolve easily and hence the color won’t bleed.
As for vinegar, there were some sites which say using vinegar is only a myth, some say vinegar makes the alkali in the detergent (which removes colours) milder. 

Kendo players


Well, Let's Do Experiments!

So, I decided to see for myself. You’re also interested in how it proves, right?
I compared three - salt, vinegar, and water only.

I prepared three pieces of my Devil’s Cloth. This is a fabric I bought in India many years ago. I don’t remember what I made with it, but when I washed it, ALL the other clothes in the washing machine became pure pink! It was so bloody powerful.

Devil's cloth - the fabric whose color bleeds profusely
  (Due to the light & shade, the colours of three pieces look different, but they're exactly the same)

In the 200ml of ordinary-temperature water, I put:
-     A tablespoon of salt
-     A capful of vinegar
-     Nothing
To get a clear result, I put more amounts than instructed by sites on the internet.

3 glasses of water for the experiment - with salt, with vinegar, and only water

And soaked the pieces of the Devil’s Cloth in the same folding manner.

3 glasses with the Devil's Cloth

I left them for two hours.
After two hours, the glasses looked like these:

3 glasses of water after soaking for 2 hours

Obviously, salt and vinegar avoided colors from bleeding to a certain extent.

I quickly washed the cloth with water and dried. After drying, the cloth looked like these:

3 cloth after two hours
In all of them, the white part pretty much became pink. I can't say salt and vinegar avoid color to transfer to other clothes.

After this, I put them again in water - only water in all the glasses. I wanted to see if the salt/vinegar stops/stabilises the colour for the future washes or not.
I left them for two hours again.
This time, the color bled in all of them equally.

After soaking in only water for another 2 hours

So this means that even after soaking in salt/vinegar water, the color runs in the next wash if you don’t add salt or vinegar again.



But but BUT!!
At this very point, I happened to find some new information!
Some sites by professional laundry/dye people say that salt and vinegar don’t work much after the colour is “fixed” (=they work better in some types of dye during the process of fixing the colour).
Then, what?? They recommended:
     Color catcher sheet --- which absorbs the bled color before transferring to other clothes
     Dye Fixative --- to fix the colors on the fabric

I am so bloody curious how they work! So I immediately ordered for them.
Hence, this blog has become a series of two episodes at the last minute. I will report to you how these two things worked. You’re also curious, right?
Stay tuned for the next episode!!
Meanwhile, please do share with us what you always do to prevent colors from bleeding. I’m dyeing to know!

Bonus Video

Talk about dyeing, do you know an Indian organisation called Aranya Natural?
While I was learning and researching daily to start a brand, I met this video and was very impressed.
This organisation is creating stunning sarees and dupattas with dyeing and Shibori techniques, and furthermore, they hire different-abled people in the area (a lot of them are women) to change their life better. It's one of MIRCHI KOMACHI's visions to work with women artisans and change their life, too.

I got an opportunity to see their products at an exhibition in Mumbai. They were extremely beautiful, I hesitated to touch and was just mesmerised. Hope you also explore about them.





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