It may have happened to you (or someone you know) – a red-colored item happened to be mistakenly washed with a white load of laundry, and turned everything pink. There are different methods to remedy this type of mistake, varying from rewashing the whites with bleach, to using a dye-remover, however we want to prevent this from happening in the first place.
Sorting your laundry properly is the simplest way to avoid catastrophes. Take the time to go through each piece – don’t just grab a pile of colors or whites and toss them in the washer. Doing the wash in a rush like that will not only increase your chances of a misplaced item, but you will miss the opportunity to pre-treat stained or heavily soiled articles.
Red clothing is often over-dyed in order to produce the desired vibrant color, which is why this color tends to bleed most during the first few washes. Other colors like black and dark blue will bleed somewhat also, but not as much as red, and those bleeding incidents are not as noticeable because we tend to have more of those colors in our wardrobe, so they are usually sorted and washed together.
Divide and conquer! The best way to prevent accidents with reds is to do them separately, in a load of their own. Unless you have a lot of red items (the average person does not), this may not be a very economical solution. So, in order to help prevent the bleeding that occurs in newly purchased (washable) reds, you might want to run the item(s) through a cold-water rinse cycle, with a ¼ cup of vinegar before washing for the first time.
Although rinsing items in the vinegar-water solution will help to set the red dye, it is no guarantee that it will completely eliminate a problem for the first few washes. If you want to be absolutely certain that no other colors will be affected in the wash load, then your only choice would be to hand wash, or wash in the machine separately from other colors.
There is a product called Shout Color Catcher Dye that helps to prevent dye transfer during the wash. This comes in handy in the cases of red dye that could bleed onto other clothes or combination clothing like a red and white striped shirt.
Remember, to keep your reds and other bright colors looking their best, always wash and rinse in cold water using detergents and stain removers specifically designated for colors.