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Garment Care Tips - Colours & Natural Dyes

4 min read

Garment Care Tips - Colours & Natural Dyes

You may have seen us shouting loud and proud about some of the natural clothing dyes we use here at TWOTHIRDS. But why are we so excited about natural dyes, we hear you ask? 

The truth is that the dying process is one of the sustainable fashion industry’s dirtiest secrets. According to the Ellen MacArthur foundation, the overall fashion industry accounts for around 20% of the world’s water pollution. This is in part down to ocean dumping, as well as microfibres and microplastics entering ocean and river habitats, but it is also due to the synthetic chemicals used to create almost every clothing colour imaginable. 

As a sustainable clothing brand whose mission is to protect the ocean, we realise we must do things differently. While we’re far from perfect just yet, here are some of the natural and more sustainable dyes we use in our eco clothing range. We also touch on how to best care for sustainable garments that feature natural dyes, so they never lose the striking colour you first fell in love with. 

Caring For Natural Greens

One of the companies we work closely with to develop sustainable clothes, that boast equally sustainable dyes, is Eyand. Their incredible team dream up natural dyes derived from all sorts of ingenious natural sources. 

A great example of this is the green that’s featured in the Goli sweater and Shenick shorts, as seen in our recent Ecological Identity Capsule. This beautifully muted hue is conjured out of a natural potion of fruits, petals, and even tree bark! While all Eyand’s plant-based dyes are rigorously tested for light fastness and crocking, it is important to keep the following in mind:

  • Wash plant-based dyed clothes as little as possible.
  • Dry them out of direct sunlight to avoid fading (You wouldn’t leave your houseplants in direct sunlight all day!).
  • Hand wash if possible, using a pH-neutral soap.
  • If you do machine wash, use a low temp setting and a gentle bio detergent.
  • Keep them separate from other colours that could leach and spoil your garment.

Caring for Mineral Yellows

If you’ve flicked over to our product pages, you may have noticed that the Goli sustainable sweater and Shenick sustainable shorts also come in a beautiful faded yellow colour. Hey, why not get both sets!

Rather than these eco-friendly fashion pieces being coloured by dyes derived from plant and fruit extracts, this yellow comes from natural earth minerals, which Eyand have also become adept at developing. Limonite is the mineral behind this colour and is a type of iron ore that is well-known for its umber and ochre tones.

Care instructions for this sort of dye are largely the same as the ones found above for plant-based natural dyes, although it should be noted that mineral dyes have a good reputation for robust colour fastness, ensuring they maintain their original look for longer than some other ethical clothing that features natural dyes.

Fading Is Natural

We are constantly testing natural dyes from different suppliers, in the hope of finding ones that match up to the high standards met by Eyand. During this search we have found that an almost inevitable downside of a natural dye is its lack of colour fastness (its colour fades!)

This should always be taken into consideration with any piece of ethical clothing that’s advertised as having been naturally dyed. This means taking extra care not to mix colours in your washes and to handwash such eco garments wherever possible.

Who knows, we may soon put disclaimers on our clothes, explaining that natural colours are bound to fade, just so we can use more natural dyes in our sustainable dresses, eco-friendly skirts or sustainable tees. Would you buy naturally dyed clothing that fades over time? Whilst trying to change the expectations of our community regarding the side effects of natural dyes, we will continue to search for the next natural dye that can hold up to the expectations of customers.

What About Stains?

The last thing to note about caring for ethical clothing that’s coloured using natural dyes is that stain removal can be a delicate process. Use too harsh a chemical and your eco-friendly sweater or sustainable knit could discolour or become misshapen.

The best way to salvage your favourite sustainable sweater or eco-friendly knit is to soak it in a bowl of cool water mixed with a few drops of bio detergent. This will help loosen particles that have stained the clothing. After soaking the clothes for around 30 minutes to an hour, you can then choose whether to treat them to a hand wash or a cold wash cycle in your washing machine.