Does drying clothes in the sun fade them?

Does drying clothes in the sun fade them
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How do you know an African field man who work in the sun? His faded clothes. Africa is blessed with trees, sun and faded clothes. Does drying clothes in the sun fade them? Sun and fabrics are not the best of friends. Exposure to sunlight do fade cloth fabrics. 

The sun causes water to evaporate from surfaces. This process soaks up not just liquid, but other substances that are mixed with water.

When a cloth is wet with water, the water particle attaches to the cloth’s faber. So water particles, stains and cloth dye are attached to the cloth at the same level. 

When the cloth is dried in sunlight, the sun’s rays evaporates the water, but along with it some dye particles. This results in fading of the any exposed cloth parts. 

Simply putting clothes in the sun does not automatically fade them. Instead leaving them in the sun for hours and doing so for a long duration of time is what fades them.

The process of fading is a gradual process that occurs over a long period of time. In many cases it will takes many months, often more than 6 months, to start seeing the effect of fading.

Even if you sundry your clothes after each wash, it will still take many years for quality fabrics to be noticebly faded.

Of course in low grade, poorly dyed fabrics, it might take shorter time to notice. But it will still take months to fade.

Does that mean you should never sundry your clothes?

How to protect your clothes from fading when drying

  • Install cloth lines away from direct sunlight
  • Do your laundry in the early hours of the day or at dusk.
  • Tumble clothes inside-out before drying.
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • Use quality detergent
  • Use minimum drying time

Install cloth lines away from direct sunlight

The ultimate culprit is exposure to sunrays. But do you need direct sunlight to dry your clothes? No you don’t. Natural airflow is the best way to dry washed garments. When combined with low humidity, you have the best, airflow can be the best method to dry clothes.

So if you air dry your laundered garments, place your lines in such a way that you take advantage of shades and shadows from your house. Or your neighbor’s.

This will prevent garments from direct contact with the sun’s harsh rays, while still enjoying the benefits of a hot or dry day.

Of course, shadows are not static. They change shape and location all through the day. If you use cloth drying racks, this should pose no problem. You can move the racks’ position as shadows shifts. Often though, this is not always necessary, because of a simple reason:

It takes hours for the sun to move completely from a section of the home to the other, this are usually sufficient time to dry your clothes with little exposure to sunlight.

Also,remember that exposing clothes to sunlight for a short period of time is fine. Most fabrics are built to withstand this reduced exposures to sunrays. So in the event that the shadow shifts for a few minutes or even an hours from your lines, leaving drying garments exposed to sunlight, this should be just fine. The sun is not the bad guy, a little exposure to it won’t hurt.

But if you need to dry clothes for longer hours, and you’re concerned about have your clothes in the open for long period of time. What can you do?

Do your laundry in the early hours of the day or at dusk.

Does drying clothes in the sun fade them

According to the United State’s Environmental Protection Agency, sun rays are at dangerous levels between the hours of 10am to 4pm. How can we apply this principle when air-drying clothes?

Wash clothes in the early hours of the day before sunrise or at sunset. There’ll still be sun rays during these hours, but the intensity of the sun by these hours are milder to garments. Remember, the human skin is far more delicate than manufactured fabrics. So, if our skin can tolerate the sun’s rays during these hours, washed garments, which are made to protect the skin from these rays will fare far better when dried during these hours.

Tumble clothes inside-out before drying

Does drying clothes in the sun fade them

Every clothes are sewn to be worn in one direction only. The interior are always out of the view of human eyes when worn. The simple logic here is to air-dry clothes with the interior facing outside.

When you inculprate point one and two above, you should little concern of clothes fading. But this does not mean that no there’ll be no effect at all. 

So, here is logic 3: dry the clothes inside-out. This will limit any minimal fading to the interior of garments. Of course nobody sees this part when worn. These fading are minimal and usually takes a long long time before becoming noticeable.

Even at this point, the fading will be restricted to inner section of your garment. Theoretically, this fading will evenly get to the outer side, but often garments would have outlived it’s lifespan by then.

Use quality detergent

Many times when clothes after washing, the real culprit is the detergent used. This is easily noticeable as colors from clothes leach into the laundry water.

If this is the case, drying clothes whether in the sun or in a dryer will fade the clothes further. As water from these garments dry through evaporation, leached dyes are evaporated also. Leaving a visibly faded garment over time.

The best way to solve this issue is to resolve the underlying problem, use a different detergent. Often this is caused by bleach-containing detergent. If so, trying a different type might be all that is needed. Also ensure that it is yet to expire.

Use minimum drying time

Does drying clothes in the sun fade them

There were times as kids when we wash clothes in the morning, dry them on the lines and leave them till evening. In the hot African sun, this is a perfect recipe for fabric fading.

To prevent your clothes from fading in the sun over time, reduce the time they are left on the lines. Just like drying on a dryer, you don’t dry them indefinitely. However unlike machines that are designed to stop after a fixed time, leaving clothes in the sun indefinitely means drying then indefinitely. This is the real cause of cloth fading.

Hence, consider the season you’re in. In dry or hot seasons, clothes dry faster, with or without direct sunlight. Try to figure how long they take to dry and ensure your remove them after this time duration.

It is harmattan season right now and some persons here in Western Africa dry clothes at night and pack them up in the morning.

If you wash clothes before sunrise, most fabric materials should be dry by noon. Just figure how long it take your clothes to dry, and don’t leave them hanging outdoors beyond this time.


Does drying clothes in the sun fade them

Maybe it just sentiment or maybe it’s the fact. But airdrying your clothes is far better than using a drying. Many dryers are notorious for shrinking, clothes, snagging them or outright tearing them. Even the best dryer still pull lints from your clothes.

For simplicity, those lints are fibres from your cloth fabrics. So it’s simple to say that your clothes leave your dryer with less fibres than it entered.

Drying clothes in the sun is nature’s solution to this problem. It takes less effort to do and yields better result.

Although drying clothes in direct sunlight for prolonged period of time can take it’s tale on your clothes, applying the suggestions above can greatly minimize the damage.

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