A laundry basket full of colorful garments

The Art of Washing Different Fabrics and Colors

Whether it’s washing different fabrics and colors or caring for your children’s stuffed animals, we at Tide believe you should pay special attention to each item while doing the laundry.

Read our comprehensive guides and learn how to wash different fabrics, whites and colors, and other everyday items, so that both you and your fabrics can look their best all the time.

How to Wash All Kinds of Garments

Fabrics & Items A-Z


A Quick Guide to Washing the Most Common Types of Fabrics

Separating clothes by fabric is an extra step you can take to ensure the health and longevity of your clothing. Each fabric type has a different washing method that can help the clothing maintain its size and coloration to the fullest. To ensure that you use the correct steps all throughout the laundry process, always check the fabric care label of your garments before washing. Read on to discover how to care for the most common fabric types.

Washing the Most Common Types of Fabrics

Natural Fabrics

Breathable, comfortable, and good for the environment, natural fiber fabrics are all rather easy to clean, but they do have their own characteristics that determine how they should be cared for. Let’s take you through the different laundry methods recommended for washing cotton, wool, and silk clothes.


Cotton is one of the most common fabrics, inexpensive and durable. Usually, clothes made out of cotton don’t require special care. For an energy efficient clean, wash it in cold water with Tide PODS Cold Water Clean laundry detergent. To learn more, read our guide on how to wash cotton clothes. When it comes to washing denim (which is generally made from cotton or a blend of cotton and another fiber), less is more. Its twill weave makes it a relatively tough material, and you don’t have to wash a pair of jeans every time you wear it.


Wool is made from the fur of sheep and is very warm and durable. Many wool fabrics are machine washable, although you should probably use the Delicates or Wool cycle if your washer has one. When washing your wool clothing items, always wash in cold water and with a gentle detergent, like Studio by Tides Delicates, then let it air dry.


Known as a high quality, expensive material, silk requires special care. So, to preserve its longevity, make sure you wash it on a delicate cycle or handwash it in cold water, with Studio by Tide Delicates, specifically designed for materials like silk. Learn more on how to care for your silk clothes here.

Synthetic Fabrics

Synthetic fabrics are great because they are all-purpose. Wash them in warm water with Tide Plus Febreze Sport Odor Defense liquid laundry detergent, but try to dry them at a lower temperature, because they may become exceedingly wrinkled during the drying process.


Acrylic is made from acrylic acid, and is most often found in winter sweaters, either alone or mixed with wool. Acrylic is machine washable in warm water, but since it's often paired with other fibers, it's essential to check the fabric care label before you toss it in the wash. In addition, acrylic garments also tend to pill heavily. Read our guide on how to de-pill your sweaters and you’ll never have to worry about lint balls again!


Nylon is made from one of the most commonly used polymers in the world. Like with most of the other synthetic materials, caring for nylon is pretty easy. You can wash your nylon garments safely in a washing machine, on both cold and warm water setting. However, in case you’re dealing with white nylon fabrics, we’d recommend sticking to a cold wash.


Polyester is often made from recycled soda bottles. Although less durable than nylon, it’s still plenty strong. Its low cost and wrinkle resistance make it one of the most commonly used fabrics in the world: Typically, it is used together with cotton to make shirts. Polyester clothing is usually machine-washable, and a warm wash cycle is ideal.

Tips for Washing Different Color Clothes

Now that you know how to wash different fabrics, it’s time to learn how to wash your white, light-, and dark-colored clothing properly and keep your clothes looking their best for longer!

Sort Your Clothes by Color

Usually, if we wash an item with a dark color and an item with a light color, some of the darker tones will ‘transfer’ onto the light item. But the item doesn’t even need to be white to suffer from color transference. The same thing can happen with light-colored clothes.

This is why it’s important to sort your clothes ideally into 3 color piles:

  • White clothing

  • Light-colored clothing

  • Dark colored clothing

Whites Should Always Go Separately

White laundry is the most likely to receive color from all other items, so make sure to always wash plain white clothes and white clothes with light-colored patterns in a separate batch. When it comes to keeping your clothes white and bright, nothing beats Tide Plus Bleach Alternative Liquid Laundry Detergent. Read our article on how to wash whites for more information on the subject.

What Are Light-Colored Clothes?

Your light-colored clothes are perfectly safe to be washed together with your whites. That means light-blue, light-brown, pink, light-green, lavender, yellow, beige, cream, orange, fuchsia and other pastel shades can go into the same pile as your whites, light greys, and garments with white background prints.

Check out our detergent selection and learn more about washing colors here.

What Falls Under Dark-Colored Clothing?

The dye in darker clothes can easily seep into lighter clothes during the laundry process, that’s why it’s best to wash dark-colored garments (black, grey, dark-brown, dark-green, olive, purple, indigo, navy blue, dark-red, crimson, and so on) in a separate batch. To keep your darks bold and your colors bright, use Studio by Tide Darks & Colors Liquid Laundry Detergent.

Can You Wash Different Colors Together?

Although it might save you some time and energy, taking a shortcut such as washing different shades of colors together is not a good idea when doing laundry, since the color bleeding can ruin your clothes easily.

If you do have to wash different colors together (e.g. whites with lights), always use cold water, since it can mostly prevent transference.

But keep in mind that clothes also should be separated by fabric types, and mixing denser fabrics with lighter ones can wear out the lighter clothing quicker and easier from the constant friction and rubbing together with the harder and denser fabric.