Keeping your Ankara colours bright

How to keep Ankara (African wax print) from fading


How to keep Ankara from fading

Finally! You have gotten the fabric of your choice. Sewn beautifully to enhance your looks when you put it on. Now you have several eyes rolling and fixed on you as you walk elegantly, head high and full of confidence. You can guess already the thoughts and silent words drifting on in the minds of those around. And for those who manage to get close enough, “you look so beautiful”, gets across to you in different ways grammar and language can allow it to be twisted. And then, there is this statement: “your dress is so pretty.” Yes, your dress too is part of what makes you beautiful. The brightly coloured fabric glued eyes too. But they can fade in the long run, and that carefully and beautifully sewn masterpiece of a dress might not be all that attractive anymore.

Brightly coloured Ankara dress
Brightly coloured Ankara dress as seen on @symdeycouture


The best way to keep your Ankara clothing from fading is to stick to a mild washing and ironing process. The quality of the fabric might high enough to make it seem not to fade, but that alone is not enough.

Proper ways to wash Ankara

You have to understand that the fabric itself during production, was dyed using pigments dissolved in water. So water can also in turn be able to dissolve the dye pigments off the fabric. So the following steps should be taken to stop or slow down that process:


Avoid detergents

Soap is made of natural biodegradable materials, mainly fats and oils, and is less harmful to the environment than regular, mainstream detergents. Detergents are made of mostly harsh synthetic chemicals and these are not so friendly to the colours on your fabric. Try washing your hands with regular detergents. Observe how long your palm keeps foaming and foaming even after rinsing severally. The same thing happens to your clothing after washing with detergent, they are hard to rinse off totally and thus keeps being active, making your clothe fade quickly.

Washing soap



Do not use hot water

Dye dissolves more easily in hot water than in cold water. So by using hot water on your fabric, you are not killing germs you are killing your fabric colours, dissolving the colour dyes from the fabric back into the water. Hot water destroys the dyes in Ankara fabric and gives it a faded look. So use cold water for washing Ankara fabrics.


Wash with salt

Adding salt to the water before immersing your Ankara fabric helps to keep it from fading. Salt helps to reduce the solubility of the dye in the fabric, thus stopping it from dissolving into the water. It also makes the water hard, preventing the soap from foaming excessively and attacking the dye in the fabric.


Turn your clothe inside out before washing

Now, there is always a possibility of the fabric losing its colours to the water, due to the effect of pressure from scrubbing the clothe and the soap. So it is better to wash the inside of your clothing, that way if it is going to fade, it will fade on the inside, leaving the part on the outside still looking bright and colourful. So always turn your Ankara clothes inside out before washing.


Do not squeeze before drying

Normally after handwashing items of clothing, we squeeze them to get rid of a bulk of water in the fabric and make them dry faster. But this time around do not do it. Squeezing your Ankara clothing is a quick way of draining out the dye pigments and rupturing the patterns on the fabric as one colour might sip into another creating a mess. It is not frequent, but it happens, and you don’t want to be one of those it happens to, and definitely not your beautiful dress.

Avoid too much sunlight when drying

Sunlight no doubt is a natural and fast way of drying your washed clothing. But the Ultraviolet rays from the sun, coupled with the direct heat can fade your fabric colours. Think of it as fire, it is important but can cause harm too. So remove your Ankara clothing from the sun once it gets dried. If possible, spread it under a shade.

Avoid washing regularly

Treat your Ankara as a special fabric at all times. It is not regular wear and wash kind of fabric, like your T-shirts and Polos. Washing frequently increases the rate at which it fades. So, it is better to air it sometimes when washing is not needed. And also to have a wardrobe full of it, to have a reasonable time spacing before you wear it next.

Brightly coloured Ankara fabric pattern

Can you bleach Ankara clothes?

Definitely not! Of course, you can, but you should not bleach Ankara clothing no matter how bad the stain is. Consider all your colours gone or messed up if you try it. Do not bleach it!

How do I get rid of tough stains on Ankara

For that tough stain, rather than scrubbing your clothe to death, try using vinegar. Vinegar is natural acidic extracts from common things around, like Apple for instance. So it is mild on your clothing. Using white vinegar in laundry will not only remove the stain, but will also brighten, reduce odour, and soften clothes.

Check for vinegar from stores around you.

You can also try using something gentler on fabrics like baking soda.

Is safe to wash Ankara with a washing machine?

Ankara or African wax can be washed with a washing machine but one has to be very careful when doing so. wash in cold water on the gentle cycle and skip the spin cycle, use very mild soap and don’t forget to turn your clothing inside out before putting in the machine to reduce the spinning effect of the machine on the outer colours. Also if you decide to use a washing machine for your Ankara clothing, do not tumble dry it.

The best way of washing Ankara clothing is by hand washing them.

Ironing Ankara clothing

Your Ankara or African wax print is purely made of cotton. So ironing them should not be that hard and complex as washing them.  As a natural fibre fabric, it can absorb heat well, so the cotton temperature setting on your iron will do.

But then watch out for combined fabrics. Fashion trends have Ankara being combined with other fabric types, so look out for those requiring lesser heat.

It is preferable to iron your Ankara garments on the inside.


Check out some Ankara combinations here



Do well to remember and check other articles on our website, you never know, it might be what you just need for your next outfit.

Written by Sene Bestman

Particular clingy on answering the questions that pops up everyday before stepping out - "Do I look okay"?
I believe that outfit might just be the right amount of confidence boost you needed.

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