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Do You Wash Khakis With Lights or Darks? (And Bleach?)

Do You Wash Khakis With Lights or Darks? (And Bleach?)

So you just got yourself khaki pants and perhaps some shorts – well done! You want them to serve you for a very long time, and you very well know that’s going to take some extra bit of TLC, even when it comes to washing.

However, one thing remains unclear – you don’t know much when it comes to cleaning khakis. How do you sort the colors? Do you wash khakis with lights or darks? Can you use bleach? Is it okay to put them in the dryer? … and so much more.

Now, if these are the kind of questions bothering you, this article is written just for you. Herein, we will be guiding you on taking good care of your new khakis so that you can keep wearing them time and time again. Let’s set the ball rolling!

Can You Wash Khakis With Colors?

Even before we sink deep into today’s topic, let me first clear something up! Throughout this article, I will be using “khaki” to mean chino pants. Technically, khaki is an orange-brown color and not a style of pants. The design of the pants is called chino.

So, in the most accurate description, khakis are orange-brown chinos. But since most people use khaki to describe a style of pants, I prefer to keep it that way for the best part of this article!

And now back to our question – should you mix khakis with light or darks when washing? Well, we don’t have a simple answer to this question. Whether to mix your khaki with lights or darks depends on the color of the khakis.

As a general rule of thumb, always sort your khakis for washing based on their colors. By that, I mean you should never do light-colored khakis with dark colors such as black. Light-colored khakis should go with light colors and dark with dark tones. So yes, it all depends on the color of your khakis.

Before we go on, I want us to look at something that may look too obvious for most of us. Why is separating colors important in the first place? Well, as I’ve said, it may look like a silly question to some of us, but we have a group of people who genuinely don’t know the necessity of sorting colors before washing.

Now, when washing clothes with different intensities of tones together, there’s something we call transference. It’s simply the transfer of color from one cloth to another.

So, when you wash dark-toned clothes with light colors, you may notice the light clothes becoming dull and losing their brilliance. As such, always sort your clothes before loading them into the washer.

Most experts recommend that you have at least three loads of clothes based on their colors. For instance, you could group them as follows;

  • White clothing
  • Light-colored clothing
  • Dark-colored clothing

The white clothing pile should only carry white clothes. Transference usually affects white clothes the most. As such, always avoid grouping white clothes with any other color. Not even with the light-colored clothes.

The light-colored clothing should comprise all clothes (together with khakis) with a light shade of color. Here, you can think of bringing together light-brown, light-green, light-blue, yellow, orange, cream, beige, pink, lavender, ochre, and perhaps maroon.

On the dark-colored category, put black, all shades of grey, olive, purple, indigo, navy blue, crimson, rust, dark green, dark-red, or any other clothing with a deep tone. These are the colors that are unlikely to get affected by transference.

Can You Wash Khaki With Whites?

Yes, only if the khaki we are talking about here is white. You see, as we’ve said, white clothes are the most affected when “bleeding” happens during washing. As such, you shouldn’t try to pair them with any other color.

Most people will tell you that they wash their light-colored khakis together with white cloths. While it may still work, we recommend that you stick to washing your clothes based on the intensity of their colors.

I know that you love your khakis. However, you love your white clothes just as much. You want them to keep shining every time you wear them. And to keep that, avoid paring them with non-white khakis when washing.

Can You Wash Khakis With Jeans?

Yes, you can wash khakis with jeans but not all the time. In other words, whether or not you can combine your khaki with jeans for washing will depend on a few factors such as the color of the jeans.

You see, most khakis are light-colored. That means they will go with colors such as light-blue, light-green, orange, yellow, cream, and others of this category. With that said, if your khaki and jeans are both on the lighter side in color, then there isn’t any harm in washing them together.

However, that still comes with a few precautions. Firstly, only use cold water. Warm or hot water is more likely to cause the dye to come out from clothes. That’s not what you want, so always keep the water cold unless otherwise. More of that will come later on in the article.

Again, when washing jeans and khakis together, we advise that you turn each of them inside out. That will help keep you safe from buttons, zippers, and more when washing. But most importantly, it will ensure that the dye remains locked in better from coming out.

Can You Wash Khakis With Bleach?

Unfortunately, you can’t use khaki with the regular bleach. You see, chlorine bleach contains sodium hypochlorite – the active ingredient responsible for bleaching. What this element does is that it will break the chemical bonds of the chromophore molecules – the molecules responsible for giving objects the visible color.

That usually happens through the process of oxidation. The broken bonds make the chromophores reflect a different color from the visible spectrum, or even no color at all – what we now see as white color.

With that said, avoid using chlorine bleach (or any other type) for khakis. It will make your khaki at least lose its beauty. Cotton khakis or those of wool will turn white when washed with bleach. And obviously, don’t expect that to give you the kind of white you would joyfully walk out wearing.

For khakis featuring a nylon, silk, or a blend of cotton and either of the two, don’t expect bleach to whiten them entirely. Instead, it will create ugly patches that will likely mark the end of you using your khaki. So yes, at all costs, avoid washing khakis with bleach.

Can You Put Khakis in the Dryer?

Yes, you can put khakis in the dryer. And much like any other step of the cleaning process, drying your khaki comes with a few safeguards. For instance, you should set the dryer to the lowest temperature setting.

Depending on your dryer, your khaki will be ready for removal in 15 to 20 minutes. One thing to keep in mind here is that you should remove the khakis before they are completely dry. You can then hang them in the sun to dry completely.

But what is the essence of removing them when damp? Does it help prolong their lifespan? Well, definitely! By getting your khakis out before they are entirely dry, you minimize the chances of them wrinkling. As such, they are likely to look better when completely dry and last longer.

Can You Wash Whites With Colors?

As aforementioned, you should always avoid pairing white clothes with any other color. Technically, white is the absence of color. As such, when you combine white clothes with toned clothes, transfer of color becomes likely.

When that happens, you don’t expect your white clothes to retain their radiance. So yes, if you want to see your whites whiter, one surefire way to attain that is by ensuring that you don’t wash them together with color clothes.

Again, most of us use bleach to brighten white clothes, and it just works fine. However, that’s not the case when it comes to color clothes. Bleach will leave ugly spots of decoloration on your colored clothes, especially those from cotton. So yes, the benefit of separating white from other colors isn’t one way.

Should You Wash Darks in Hot or Cold?

Although you could still wash darks with hot or warm water, we recommend that you use cold water where possible. Sure, most darks won’t transfer their color when washed with hot or warm water. However, cold water helps darks retain their original color.

Again, when using cold water, clothes such as swimsuits, washable silk, activewear, and silicate lingerie are less likely to shrink. That said, whenever cleaning any of these types of clothes, always stick to cold water.

But there are a few downsides to using cold water. For instance, it may not be the ideal option, especially when dealing with stubborn stains. You could still get rid of some stains when using cold water. But for deep and stubborn dirt, hot or warm water is the way.

For materials that don’t work with high-temperature water, consider pretreating the stains with a stain remover. That has to come before you begin washing. That way, you will find things easier when using this type of water.


Contrary to popular belief, khakis don’t need much in terms of care. In fact, experts recommend that you only clean khaki when it gets visibly stained or when you become sweaty. So yes, that could mean wearing twice, thrice, or even four times between washing cycles.  

Sure, we still have a few precautions to observe, but most of these safeguards are what you already know. So yes, if you just got a few khakis, then it’s possible to make the most out of them with a few care tips.