Skip to content
Pink and purple laundry in a washing machine.

Are Your Clothes Non-Colourfast? A Washing Machine Q&A

Not sure how to keep a new garment bright? Keep finding dye stains in the wash? No worries – the non-colourfast Q&A below is here to help.

What does colourfast mean?

It’s possible to go into the details of dye types and fabric weaknesses, but a simple non-colourfast definition is this: non-colourfast clothes are garments that can lose or change colour in the wash due to loss of dye. As such, there’s two problems you can come across when you’re washing these clothes: they can become less bright (or, in the case of black non-colourfast clothes, more grey) after a few washes; and the dye that escapes from them can seep out and stain other garments in the wash with them.

How can I check if I’m about to wash non-colourfast fabric?

Usually the manufacturer will provide some indication of the colourfastness of an item on the label – descriptions like “wash separately” or “wash with similar colours” tend to indicate that the garment will lose a bit of dye in the wash. That said, sometimes it’s not so much that you need to wash an item by itself. If you’re not sure, there’s also a test you can do yourself at home really easily – check out our colourfastness test here.

How do I wash non-colourfast clothes?

Even if a garment is non-colourfast, the washing machine can still take care of it. You just need to be careful. Heat tends to encourage garments to lose their dye, so non-colourfast items should be washed separately in cold water and rinsed immediately without soaking. Dry cleaning is safer for garments that lose a lot of colour, but check the care label first.

What should I do if the dye from a non-colourfast garment runs into other clothes?

If a non-colourfast item accidentally slips into your wash, a reversal product, such as Dylon® Run Away Dye Remover, could come to the rescue (available in most supermarkets and chemists). Just make sure you read the instructions carefully first and check that it is compatible with your fabric.

Don’t forget to flush the dye out of your washing machine too! If a garment has released a lot of dye, put your machine on an empty wash cycle before doing the next load. This will stop the loose dye from staining the next wash.

There’s no need to be nervous about washing your brand new bright clothing. Just take the precautions above, and you should be able to limit most dye loss. There are additional guides here on the Persil site to help you with specific items, too. Check out our guides to washing jeans or washing coloured clothes, or learn a little more about preventing colour run.

Chat live with our Persil Careline team 8am-6pm Monday-Friday


Cleaning tips for all your housekeeping needs. Whether you're tidying up or tackling stains, click here & find out how to clean almost anything!