No suit is complete without a matching necktie. Whether you’re wearing a two-piece suit or a three-piece suit, a necktie will define your neckline while introducing new colors and/or patterns to your outfit in the process. Unfortunately, though, it’s not uncommon for neckties to fade. Even if your necktie currently has a strong, sharp color, it may fade to a lighter tone. This typically doesn’t happen overnight, but after wearing your necktie for several months, the risk of fading is high. So, what steps can you take to protect your necktie from fading?
Stick With Cotton
Cotton neckties are less likely to fade than neckties made of other materials. You can always experiment with neckties made of other materials, but you’ll probably discover that cotton offers the highest level of protection against fading. It can withstand heat and sunlight better than other materials. And because cotton is the world’s most commonly used textile, cotton neckties are inexpensive and readily available, making them a smart choice for fashion-conscious men.
Wash in Cold Water
Assuming you choose a cotton necktie, you should be able to clean it in the washing machine (unless otherwise stated on the care tag). When cleaning your necktie in the washing machine, it’s recommended that you use the cold water setting to minimize the risk of fading. All garments can fade when exposed to hot water. The heat from the water breaks down the color-causing dye, resulting in a lighter and more faded tone. You can still clean your necktie in the washing machine; just remember to use the cold water setting to minimize the risk of fading.
Use Liquid Detergent
In addition to cold water, you should use liquid detergent when cleaning your necktie in the washing machine. There are two primary types of laundry detergent: liquid and powder. Powder detergent, while easy to use, is more abrasive than its liquid counterpart. If you use powder detergent, the abrasive powder particles will rub against your necktie, causing some of the dye to leak out. It may effectively clean your necktie, but it will likely cause fading as well. Liquid detergent, on the other hand, is nonabrasive, making it a better choice for your necktie.
Store in a Shaded Area
If you aren’t wearing your necktie — and don’t intend to wear it in the near future, you should store it in a shaded area. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight is one of the leading causes of fading. Sunlight triggers a chemical reaction with fabric dyes that, over time, makes them appear lighter. By storing your necktie in a shaded area, such as the top of your closet or inside a chest of drawers, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Keep in mind that you can still wear your necktie outdoors on a bright and sunny day. Short-term exposure to direct sunlight generally won’t cause fading. Rather, it takes weeks if not months of exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays to cause any noticeable degree of fading.
Wash With Vinegar
It may sound unusual, but washing your necktie with vinegar can protect it from fading. Vinegar helps to “lock-in” your necktie’s dye so that it’s less likely to leach out — a phenomenon that can result in a faded appearance. You don’t have to wash your necktie completely with vinegar. Instead, add about 1/2 cup of vinegar to the washing machine after it’s filled with cold water. You can then add your necktie and let the vinegar work its magic.
It’s important to note that you should only use distilled white vinegar when washing your necktie. Other types of vinegar have particles in them that, when exposed to a necktie, may cause staining. Distilled white vinegar, however, is both safe and effective at protecting neckties from fading. And with vinegar costing just a few bucks a bottle, it’s an inexpensive way to keep your necktie in tiptop shape.
Wash With Salt
Another way to safeguard the color of your necktie is to wash it with salt. Salt works in a similar way as vinegar, with both substances able to “lock-in” the necktie’s dye. If you don’t have any vinegar on hand, grab some salt from your kitchen.
So, how much salt do you need for this task? Assuming you are washing just a single small load — that includes your necktie, of course — 1/4 cup of salt should suffice. Don’t make the mistake of using too much salt. Like powder detergent, salt is abrasive and can wear down the surface of your necktie. When this occurs, your necktie may appear lighter and more faded. By only using 1/4 cup of salt, though, it will have a positive effect by protecting your necktie from fading.
Tip: Run your necktie through the washing machine using only cold water after washing it with vinegar or salt. The purpose of this is to rinse out any remaining vinegar or salt so that it looks clean and pristine.
Rather than cleaning your necktie in the washing machine each time it gets dirty, consider spot cleaning it instead. Even if use cold water, as well as liquid detergent, cleaning your necktie in the washing machine will gradually degrade it. Each time it’s placed inside the washing machine, your necktie will sustain a small amount of stress. Over time, this stress may manifest as a lighter and more faded color.
You can spot clean your necktie using warm water and liquid laundry detergent. Just run a washcloth under warm water, add some liquid detergent to it, and gently blot your necktie until it’s clean.
Choose a Lighter Color
This won’t necessarily prevent your necktie from fading, but it can help minimize the effects of fading nonetheless. Neckties featuring a dark color are more susceptible to the effects of fading than their counterparts featuring a light color. If your necktie is black, for instance, it may appear more faded than a white or tan necktie. As a result, choosing a necktie in a lighter color can help you avoid the pitfalls of fading.