Laundry isn’t typically anyone’s favorite chore, and even if it is, every once in a while we’ve all been tempted to try to shorten the amount of time we’re spending washing clothes. But there aren’t many ways to do this.


Out of the few strategies society has come up with, the most popular seems to be mixing together loads so that you’ll only have to wash one large one, instead of several smaller ones. This might seem ingenious on paper, but in reality it might not be so safe.

The problem typically lies with mixing dark and light clothes, but some people are unsure if it’s actually a problem or not. So can you mix dark and light clothes in the washing machine? Let’s dig in and learn the answer!


Can You Mix Dark And Light Clothes In The Washing Machine?

Even though it would be a lot more convenient if you could, unfortunately you can’t mix dark and light clothes in the wash. If you do so then you’re risking damage to your laundry. So although it might make for a few more loads, it’s better safe than sorry. Always separate lights and darks in the washing machine!

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Which Colors Shouldn’t Be Washed Together?

Most people have their own understanding of what “light” clothes mean versus “dark” clothes. But for clarity, let’s take a look at some clothing colors that should never be present in the same load of laundry.

So light clothes consist of – light green, light yellow, light blue, pink, lavender, etc.

And dark clothes consist of – black, red, navy, gray, dark purple, dark green, etc.

White clothing should always be washed in its own separate load.


What Happens If You Mix The Wrong Colored Laundry?

The thing that you’re trying to avoid by separating your colors is the dreaded color bleeding that’s possible with laundry. Bleeding colors can ruin your clothes very quickly, and it can be hard to fix them. Sometimes in the worst scenarios, you can never get them back to normal.

Essentially what happens is that darker colored clothes will “bleed” onto light colored ones, and can turn them a weird shade. Or if it only bleeds into a small area, you’ll have a discolored spot on the item where it happened.

Whites are especially easy to be bled on, so that’s why they always need their own load. One red sock in a load of white clothes could turn a lot pink. So beware!

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How Can You Fix Clothes That Have Color Bleeding?

First of all, never put a piece of laundry that has a color bleed stain in the dryer. The heat from the dryer will set the stain, and then none of the following steps will work. So if you realized that you mixed some lights and darks together, inspect the clothes for stains before you dry them.


For small bleeds you can first try this strategy:

  1. Fill a sink or container with about a gallon of water.
  2. Apply around two tablespoons of detergent to the spot in question.
  3. Use a toothbrush to rub the spot.
  4. Allow it to soak for around half an hour.
  5. Wash the item and see if the stain came out.


Another option uses vinegar, and this method is good if your entire piece of clothing has become a different color:

  1. Fill a sink or container with a gallon of water.
  2. Add a cup of white vinegar to the mixture.
  3. Let the stained clothing soak in it for about half an hour.
  4. Check to see if the stain has gone away.
  5. If it has then wash it, and if it hasn’t then try another method.


If all this has failed then you can wash the load with a bit of oxygen-based bleach. If the bleach is oxygen safe then you don’t have to worry about it harming your colored clothes. Check to see if the stains are gone after the wash, and if they are then you can dry the items.

If you’ve stained white clothing then you can mix together a 1:1 solution of hydrogen peroxide and water, let the clothing soak for about half an hour, and if the stain has faded out then you can rinse and rewash the clothing.

And if the worst has happened and you dried clothing with color bleed stains, then there are special products you can buy to get them out. But keep in mind that it’ll cost a pretty penny.


How Do You Prevent Clothes From Bleeding On Each Other?

Of course, you probably want to avoid color bleeding in the wash at all costs. So here are a few ways other than separating your colors to keep it from happening. Note that you still need to separate colors, but you can do these things as well for extra safety.

  • Wash your clothing in cold water.
  • Be extra careful with new clothing items because they bleed easier than old ones.
  • If you have a piece of clothing that often bleeds, consider beginning to hand wash it.



So the final answer to the question, “can you mix dark and light clothes in the washing machine” is NO! And if you do then you’re going to have to follow the steps listed above in order to fix the color bleeding that will occur.

Even though it’s a hassle, it’s best to just separate your clothes even if that means a few extra loads of laundry for you. It’ll be less work and resources lost in the long run.

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