Does Sunlight Make Workout Clothing Fade?

Today, most people dry their clothes in dryers, but before in-home dryers became so popular, people would hang their clothes to dry outside on clotheslines. Because hanging clothes outside isn't so commonplace anymore, people everywhere are unsure about whether workout clothes will fade in the sunlight or not.

The short answer is, yes, sunlight causes ALL clothes' colors to fade eventually. It's true that workout clothes are generally more durable than other kinds, thanks to their strong and stretchy fabrics, but the amount of fading that occurs in our clothes has little or nothing to do with the fabric and almost everything to do with the types of dyes that are used.

The sun emanates ultraviolet (UV) radiation and oxygen radicals, which cause chemical reactions with a bleaching effect to occur with the dyes in the clothing. This is why clothes fade in sunlight, and even though you can't (and shouldn't worry about trying to) fully protect your clothes from the sun's effects, there are certain precautions you can take to prevent as little fading as possible.

  1. Since you can't dry your clothes in the sun without exposing them to UV rays, you should try to make sure the fading is as even as possible. Put the clothes in direct sunlight so that there are no strange patterns thanks to shadows from trees and other obstacles. Then, make sure you expose both sides of each article of clothing (front and back) to the sun for an equal amount of time so that the fading is even.
  2. Turn your clothes inside out before you hang them up to dry. There might be a little bit of fading on the inside of your shirt or pants, but it isn't likely to be noticeable to anyone but you, and it will help protect the exterior of your clothes (the side that everyone else sees) for as long as possible.
  3. If your clothesline is shaped circularly, hang your dark clothes closer to the center and your lighter clothes on the outside. Fading in lighter clothes is a lot less likely to be noticed, and even if there is noticeable fading, the color difference won't be nearly as dramatic as it would be with dark clothes.

We hope this information is helpful to you as you work to take care of your workout gear!