Can Coffee Really Help Darken Your Dark-Colored Clothing?

Some people have turned to a popular laundry hack that involves using coffee and/or grounds to enhance the deep color of their fading dark clothes. The idea behind this hack is that the natural dye properties in coffee can help boost the deep dye in the fabric. It's rumored that it might also help with premature or continual fading. There are two main ways to dye your clothes with coffee: either by adding the beverage to the rinse cycle or by soaking the fabrics in a coffee-filled bowl. However, while java does have properties that make it a suitable dye for some fabrics, one of these dyeing methods may come with more risks than benefits.

Using coffee in any form in your laundry machine just isn't a good idea. Maintaining the rich, dark color will continue to be a challenge, and repeated washing will suck out any color that was previously deposited. On top of that, you might also run the risk of damaging your washing machine, which could be a costly repair. However, simply soaking your dark clothes in the liquid to give it a slightly darker hue may be a more effective way to keep clothes dark. This may also be a better alternative to adding coffee to the washing machine, as you won't risk damaging your appliance.

How to attempt the coffee in the washing machine hack

While we don't recommend the coffee in the washing machine hack, if you wanted to test it out, you'd need a few cups of brewed coffee, dark-colored clothing, and a washing machine that has a rinse cycle. Those who enjoy this hack start the process off by brewing a strong pot of coffee, then set it aside to cool down. They ensure that the coffee is super dark and concentrated to achieve the desired boost for their dark clothes. Next, they load their dark clothing items into the washing machine, add the brewed coffee directly into the rinse cycle so that it blends with the water during the rinse, and run the washing machine as usual. They may also try to achieve a darker, more intense color by repeating the process or adding more coffee to boost the dyeing qualities. Once the rinse cycle is complete, they carefully remove the dark clothing from the washing machine and dry the garments however desired. 

While this hack might have some minimal dye-like effects, the results of using a few cups of java or coffee grounds in your rinse cycle will most likely provide inconsistent and unpredictable results. That's because modern washing machines, especially those snazzy high-efficiency models, use less water, which will make it challenging for the coffee to evenly distribute. This can lead to irregular staining and can also potentially damage your fabrics as well as your appliance.

How to soak your clothes in coffee

Alternately, you can soak your darks in coffee to help prevent fading. To do this, put your clean clothes in a large pot and pour super strong coffee over them. Use a wooden spoon to make sure the clothes are fully covered, and let it steep for at least 30 minutes. You could also leave them overnight, which may make the fabrics even darker. After achieving the desired color, remove the fabric from the coffee and wring it out. Prepare a bowl with hot water and add 1 to 3 tablespoons of vinegar. Submerge the garment in the vinegar solution and let it sit for 10 minutes. Lastly, let the fabric dry completely and iron it to set the color. This is a much safer and possibly more effective way to keep your dark's dark.

There are also a few other ways you can maintain the dark color of your clothing that don't involve coffee. For instance, you might want to consider using a high-quality detergent that can neutralize the fading effects of the chlorine in tap water. Adding a fabric conditioner during the rinse cycle is also recommended, which can help protect the fibers from damage caused by friction and heat during the laundry process. Washing dark clothes in cold water, turning them inside out before washing, and avoiding high heat when drying can further preserve their color and prolong their lifespan.