7 Ways to Keep Your African Print Fabric from Fading Quickly

How to Keep Ankara Print Fabric From Fading

Have you ever felt so great in an African Print fabric, only for you to put it through a hand wash or you toss it in the washing machine, and it ends up completely ruined, washed out and totally irredeemable? Yeah, that feeling is not a good one, especially if the fabric is associated with a great memory or you spent quite some money on it.

Unlike other kinds of fabric, the African Print, popularly known as ‘Ankara’, comes with at least two different dye colours, making it a fabric that needs detailed attention, else, it may quickly end up in that part of your closet you never go to.

In order to avoid this, we have listed things you can do to keep your African Print cloth in the best form and colour to serve you well for a very long time.

Let’s begin!


First, Test for Colour Fastness.

Colour Fastness refers to how a material is able to retain its colour when exposed to sunlight or dry-cleaning. To test your African fabric for this, simply dampen a piece of white cloth and place it on top of the garment. Iron until dry. If there is a bleed on the white cloth, it means you need to wash your African fabric garment separately from the rest so, the colours in the wax don’t run. 

Second, When Washing, Turn Fabric Inside-Out and Wash with Cold Water.

Hot water is a no-no for African Print fabric because it kills the dyes. If using a washing machine, wash with cold water on the gentle cycle and do not spin. If handwashing, do not squeeze or wring out the water. Remember also to turn the fabric inside out, so the effect of the wash is more on the inside, which is usually covered by linen anyway. 

Third, Avoid Washing with Regular Detergents.

Detergents can be harsh on the fabric and fade the colours. You can go for bar soaps instead. If you are giving the fabric out to a drycleaner, make sure they have experience with washing African Prints and they use the right detergents. 

Four, What if there are Stains on your Ankara Fabric?

One rule – Don’t bleach it! Instead, add baking soda or vinegar to your wash water. Then rinse properly when you are done. 

African Prints Skater dress 'Odun' by Ephatha Fashion

Five, Don’t Dry in the Sun for too Long.

Heat from the sun can be harsh on the fabric and affect its quality and durability. It is better to dry under a shade.  

Six, Avoid Washing Frequently.

On days when you don’t sweat a lot, immediately you pull off the fabric, simply air-dry it. Frequent washing can get the dyes to fade quickly. 

Seven, Iron the Garment on the Inside with the Right Temperature.

Most African Print fabrics are 100% cotton, so the cotton setting should be appropriate. However, take note of other added materials like linen, which you may need to change settings for.

 We hope these tips are helpful. How has your experience been with washing and taking care of your Ankara fabric? Do share with us.


(Featured Image: A photo of different African Print Fabrics in an African Market)

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