As the years go by the dye in your cap slowly begins to fade, losing its vibrancy. It’s hard to restore faded colour. Worry not, lets take a look at the top six causes of colour loss and five easy ways you can protect your caps against it.
Do you commit any of these common cap blunders? These six main causes of colour fade are the cap equivalent of using silver polish on an antique coin. Avoid these blunders to save you money and your caps from the unworn pile.
Prolonged, direct exposure to UV (Ultra Violet) rays from the sun causes the dyes in the fabric to break down. I’m not saying don’t wear your caps out, just don’t leave them in the sun! If you leave your cap in the car, drape something to shade it.
Pro tip: UV rays are active in daytime hours whether the sun hides behind the clouds or shines clearly. It’s why colour fade is also seen in caps in cold and grey places like here in the UK
I always advise against using a toothbrush or any kind of brush to scrub stains or dirt, especially whilst the fabric is wet. Scrubbing the fabric can accelerate the wear on the fibres and colour loss. And there’s more. Using hot water whilst scrubbing makes it more likely for the cap to lose colour.
The best method to clean your caps (if you absolutely have to) is to gently blot the stain with a clean cloth. Get a step-by-step walk through of the most effective, least likely to damage method for spot cleaning in my in-depth guide to stains.
Always, always, always check to make sure a cleaning product is safe to use for your fabric and colour. Did you know that not all cleaning products are safe for every type of fabric? For example, often the stain removers or detergents which would work just fine for a synthetic fibre would damage a natural fiber like wool or cotton. Before you use a product, always do a colour fast test in an inconspicuous place on your cap.
From my experience, sweat stains often cause the most visible damage, discolouring isolated patches of a cap. Unlike fading from the sun which is generally even and is mostly noticed when a sticker is removed or compared to a new version.
The colour is altered because fresh sweat can be mildly acidic. When sweat breaks down and dries, it turns alkaline which can cause a reaction in dyes that are sensitive to it. The effect of this can include change of hue, bleeding dye or yellow staining (usually with lighter colours). It can also make the fabric weaker, which leaves it prone to getting holes or splitting.
New caps may experience colour loss after the first clean. If the cap wasn’t fully rinsed after it was dyed, it comes out the first time you wash it. Cool rinsing is advised but make sure to check your care instructions to see what the manufacturer recommends.
If in the past you have washed your caps in the washing machine or dishwasher, they may be showing signs of colour fade. The washing process involves various steps that may play a part in causing colour loss. Temperature, detergent, water, length of washing cycle and the mechanical effect of spinning whilst wet can be factors. I wrote a blog post about the effects of cleaning your caps in the washing machine here.
This heads up is for those lucky enough to live by a beach…
Did you know caps that are made from wool are prone to colour loss if you wear it regularly by the ocean? The sodium chloride (salt) reacts with the dyes, causing them to break down much faster.
Unless you stash your collection away in a dark closet never to be worn, it’s impossible to completely avoid colour fade. However, you CAN protect your collection with proper care. These are my top 4 simple preventative measures you can take right now to slow down colour fade in your collection.
Consider moving your displayed caps onto a wall not exposed to get direct, constant sunlight. Select a wall which collects the most shade throughout the day.
This may sound dramatic. Hear me out. Applying a UV solar protection film to the windows in the room you store your caps may be the silver bullet you need to protect them. And actually, it’s common for homes and venues with expensive furniture and paintings to have UV film fitted. Think about how many caps you have out on display or stored in transparent cases. If you add up the cost of replacing your collection, this outlay may be worth the investment. Sometimes it’s not even about the money. I’m sure you have caps in your collection that are priceless to you.
When I first considered this I flashed back to the old school security mirrored windows. After some research, I was surprised to see how unnoticeable the films are. They seem fairly easy to fit. I have just moved house and plan to install some myself.
Storing your caps in containers which block out sunlight is a cheap and effective way to protect them from colour fade. Check out my blog post on choosing the correct container for storage here
Rotating the wear of my caps is something I struggle with, especially when I’m in a honeymoon phase with a new cap. In the long run, rotating the usage and displaying of your collection will help extend their longevity.
Some stain repellents sprays now contain UV protective properties. This can offer some level of protection to the colour of your cap. However, I’m hesitant to recommend these sprays because of the current environmental debate surrounding the chemicals in them. These chemicals are potentially toxic, and at the moment there are no formulas on the consumer market without them.
Now you’ve read this blog, you should know the 6 main causes of colour fade and 5 easy steps to prevent it. Taking steps to protect your caps from sun and wear will help them look their best for longer.
Do you have a trick I didn’t include, or advice? Comment below to share any other tactics you use to keep colour fade at bay, like alternative display methods.