How to Keep Your Clothes Looking Like New

Avoid the unintentional fading of your darker wardrobe basics by following our experts’ advice.

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Photo by Johnny Miller

It can be so frustrating when you buy a new item of clothing—a fresh pair of pants, say—and after just a few washes it becomes discolored. Certified cleaning technician, author, and blogger Donna Smallin Kuper and Mary Johnson, Principal scientist for Tide and Downy, share their tips for cleaning these pieces and keeping them looking like new.

The main rule of thumb for denim, Kuper says, is to turn it inside out and hand wash it in cold water. While this method may be more hands-on than machine washing, it protects the indigo dyes. Johnson recommends skipping the dryer, too, since laying your denim flat to air dry will help extend the life of the fabric.

When it comes to black pants, Johnson says that these garments are actually made up of a combination of layered dyes to create the deep black effect. The colors can fade from everyday wear as well as the way you clean the fabric. Seams, in particular, hold the highest risk of fading because of abrasion. To keep your black slacks looking crisp, wash them inside out on cold with a fabric conditioner (Johnson recommends Downy) to smooth the fibers.

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Making a few simple changes to your treatment of these materials can make a world of difference on their lifespan in your closet. Wash dark pants and jeans inside out in cold water for best results. For more answers to your clothing maintenance conundrums, check out this roundup of solutions for common problems.