A friend of mine needed to wash his orange bedspread. He had never washed it before, but jammed the spread into a large-capacity washer and turned it on.
Although he took care to wash it separately from his other clothes when he went to the laundromat, he was not so careful when it came time to dry the clothes.
He felt that he could save money by dumping his whites in with the bedspread. Well, he did save money but he left the establishment with pale orange underwear and T-shirts.
He admits that the tiny bit of savings did not make up for the months he spent wearing colored undergarments. After a few months, the color faded to pale peach, which he steadfastly refused to wear and he replaced the garments.
The idea that “Yes, you must separate the colors from the dark clothes” is actually no longer etched in stone, if you purchase something called Shout’s “Color Catchers.” If you goof and mix your colors (or if you steadfastly refuse to separate the clothes), you can throw one of these sheets into your washer and re-wash the clothes.
The Color Catcher will pull the dark dye in the clothes away from your lighter colors. As it does this, the Color Catcher will turn a dark color, which beats having your clothes that color! Do not dry the clothes together, or you will have defeated the purpose of the Color Catcher catching your misplaced color. You have to dry the darks and lights separately or the problem will reassert itself.
Do not try to re-use the Color Catcher sheet. Follow the directions on the box and discard the sheet after you use it. Keep in mind that these things cost money, they do not replace your need for laundry detergent, and they do not function as fabric softeners. Their sole task is to keep your light things from turning dingy because you washed white or light clothing with dark.
Think of this as the “morning-after pill” for washing machines. Do not dry the clothes before you re-wash them, or the dinginess will be set in the clothing. If you are careful with money, it would be better to just separate your clothes and avoid the need for this product. Let me repeat: you will still need to use laundry detergent with this product and it is not a fabric softener sheet, although it looks like one. These products are not interchangeable!