Can You Dry Whites And Colors Together? (Important Tips)

Doing laundry can seem like a monumental chore that never ends. It is tempting to find shortcuts to make things easier.

It can be a time-saver to just throw everything in and let your clothes wash and dry all at once.

However, incorrectly drying your clothes can actually shorten the lifespan of your clothing.

This can end up costing you money and time in the long run. So can you properly dry whites and colors?

Drying white clothes with colored garments is generally not recommended. Mixing whites and colors in the dryer can lead to color transfer, especially if the colored fabrics are new or have not been washed several times. This can result in whites acquiring a tint from the colored clothes. However, if the colored clothes are old and have been washed multiple times without any dye bleeding, the risk is significantly reduced.

To safeguard the integrity of your white garments, it’s advisable to dry whites and colored clothes separately. This practice ensures that your whites stay bright and free from any color bleeding. Additionally, using color-catching sheets during the drying process can offer an extra layer of protection against unwanted dye transfer.

While it may not be the most convenient method for doing laundry, sorting clothes by color is the best way to extend the lifespan of your garments.

Keep reading on for helpful steps on adequately washing and drying your clothes.

Can You Dry Whites And Colors Together?

Bleeding shades is not the only reason to sort your clothing on laundry day. Whites and colors should not be dried or washed together since even damp clothing can bleed dyes that stain your white clothing.

Wash and dry your whites and colors separately to prevent bleeding from occurring.

Different types of fabrics should be separated as well as colors. Dense fabrics, like denim, can wear out the lighter materials, such as T-shirts, from the friction that occurs during washing and drying together.

Because of this, it is why it is usually recommended that jeans be washed separately.

Drying Colors, Lights, And Darks Together

When it comes to drying colors, lights, and darks together, the same process goes for them as drying whites and colors; everything should be sorted, then washed and dried separately.

When the fabrics are wet, the dyes found on your dark and colored clothing can bleed and stain your lights. 

Whenever in doubt about how to wash and dry colored clothing, read the instructions on the garment label.

Often the label will tell you what colors the garment can be cleaned with and what temperatures to set the washer and dryer. 

Why Do Colors Bleed In The Washer Or Dryer?

Dyes tend to bleed because manufacturers often use cheap dyes, overdye the clothing, or use inadequate techniques.

Colored clothes in a machine

This can lead to bleeding when washed, regardless of how many wash cycles you do. Bright colors like reds and oranges are notorious for bleeding and staining everything in the wash.

While some methods and products can help you try to remove the dye stains from your clothes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

In other words, color sorting your clothes will save you time and money. There are some other things you can do to prevent clothes from bleeding and fading.

How To Keep Clothes From Bleeding

Wash your clothes in cold water instead of hot, since hot water breaks down dyes and opens up the fabric’s fibers releasing the dye into the wash.

Most care instructions will tell you to turn the garment inside out before washing it. This is to reduce the friction put on the garment which can lead to fading and bleeding.

When purchasing new clothes read the labels for washing instructions and try to avoid ones with labels that say “Color May Wash Down”, “Colors Rub Off”, and “Do Not Use Detergent”.

Color catchers are another convenient way to prevent bleeding clothes. They look similar to fabric softener sheets and work by attracting the bleeding dyes from transferring to other clothes. 

However, if you would rather not risk it, handwashing the garment separately in cold water is the best way to keep the excess dye from ruining your clothes.

What Colors Can You Dry Together?

When you sort your laundry for wash day you want to make four piles; white, black, light colors, dark colors.

Keeping the white and black clothes separate is easy, but what about the other colors? Let’s look at how to sort the colors that can be washed and dried together.

Light Colors

When sorting the light colors, stick to the pastel shades and brighter colors. Some examples include light blue, light green, khaki, lavender, yellow, cream, and pink.

Set your dryer to the Regular setting when drying light-colored clothing, however, check the labels for special drying instructions. 

Drying light colors together

Dark Colors

Darker shades that can be washed and dried together are all the shades of grey, dark browns, olive, purple, indigo, navy blue, and dark green.

Black clothing can be washed alongside your dark colors if need be. 

Dark colors and black have a tendency to fade over time, so while it may take longer, darks should be dried on low heat.

You can also purchase detergents that help keep your black and dark clothing from fading.

Can You Wash Red Clothes With Black?

You can wash red and black clothes together as long as the red is a darker shade and the water is cold.

However, red clothing, despite how light or dark it is, still poses the risk of bleeding onto other clothes when wet.

If you want some more peace of mind, try to wash all the reds and oranges by themselves to prevent the bright dyes from bleeding onto the other garments. 

If you just bought a red garment, then washing and drying on their own for one to four washes, will help minimize it from bleeding dye in the future.

If you want to test a red garment to see if it bleed, wet a spot on the garment and go over the area with a paper towel.

If there is dye on the towel, then you should wash it separately, however, if there is no sign of dye, then it is safe to wash with like colors.

How To Dry Colored Clothes

If you prefer to air dry your clothing rather than use a machine dryer, avoid drying your colored and dark clothes outside.

The direct sunlight can fade the colors, so it is best to dry colored clothing inside on a drying rack.

However, if you are using a machine dryer use Permanent Press on Medium Heat. This may take a little longer to dry your clothing, but it is best to avoid high heat when you dry colored clothes.

The high temperatures will cause bright and dark colors to fade over time, making your clothes seem dull and worn. Depending on the fabric, drying clothes with high heat can cause the clothing to shrink.

How To Dry Whites

While dark colors should not be dried outside, the outdoors on a bright, sunny day is the best place to dry white clothes.

drying white cloths


Hang drying whites in direct sunlight helps to brighten your whites using the sun’s ultraviolet rays. If hanging your whites clothes outside is not possible, a machine dryer is a good backup. 

If you use a machine dryer, you want to avoid over-drying the white clothes. Pull them out while still damp and either air dry on a drying rack, or dry flat.

This also prevents over-drying which shrinks cotton fabrics. 

What Temperature Should You Dry White Clothes On?

When using a machine dryer to dry white clothes, you want to set the dryer to low heat and/or delicate.

Higher temperatures can cause any stains or dirt to discolor your white garment or scorch the clothes if the dryer temperature is too high. 

Dryer Settings By Clothing

Colors are not the only factor to consider when sorting your laundry. Different fabrics require specific machine settings and care instructions.

For example, your stretchy athleticwear needs additional care than your heavy cotton towels, even if they are the same color.

You can find more details for a particular garment by reading the wash/dry instructions on the label. Here is a general guide to help you figure out the drying settings by clothing:

Drying SettingTemperatureClothing 
High Heat145℉Heavy Cotton, Denim
Medium Heat135℉T-Shirts, Everyday Items
Low Heat125℉Stretchy, Activewear
Dry Flat/Air DryRoom TempertureKnits, Intimates

It is essential to mention that this is just a generalized guide and you should always read the care instructions on your clothing for proper washing and drying instructions.

Final Thoughts

Remember that it is not recommended that you dry whites and colors together. Sort your clothes in four piles, whites, light colors, dark colors, and blacks, but if needed, black clothing can be washed with dark colors.

If you are ever in doubt about how to properly clean and dry colored clothing, read the instructions found on your garment’s label. 

Hopefully, this guide has given you the answers you were looking for and helped you understand the method behind the madness of sorting laundry.

It can seem like a time-consuming task at first, but once you have a system down, it will not seem so bad, and your clothes will thank you for it.

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