Does Shout Color Catcher Prevent Color Bleeding?
One of the worst moments you can experience as a quilter is putting a quilt into the wash for the first time, then taking it out and seeing to your horror that one or more of the fabrics in the quilt has bled dye onto other parts of the quilt.
I’ve had that happen, and believe me, it’s no fun at all! Here’s the sad story: I made a Valentine’s quilt with pink and red hearts on a white background. When I washed the quilt to remove the basting spray, the red hearts left pink splotches all over the white background I had spent hours free-motion quilting.
Tears were shed that day.
Which Fabrics Bleed Dye?
When it comes to color bleeding, dark fabrics are the worst offenders. Black, brown, dark blue or green, and especially red fabrics are notorious for leaving the kind of marks on quilts that you really don’t want.
But there is an inexpensive counter-measure that claims to keep dye from bleeding onto your quilt: Shout Color Catcher.
ColorCatcher comes in sheets that look like fabric softener sheets. Using the product is simple: you just drop one sheet or two (for larger loads) into the washing machine with your fabrics or quilt. Any dye released by your fabric is supposed to be trapped on the the color sheet, not on the rest of your fabric.
Does Shout Color Catcher Really Work?
The blurb on the box claims that you can mix colors without fear. But a little online research showed that not everyone thinks the product works. Consumer Reports ran some tests on Shout Color Catcher and its competitor, Carbona Color & Dirt Grabber, and found that the sheets didn’t work any better just washing without them. They recommend simply separating lights and darks in the wash.
But quilters don’t have that luxury. Our patterns depend on artful mixtures of light and dark fabrics, and the colors we have so carefully sewn together can’t be separated for washing.
Online reviews by other quilters are mixed. Some people swear by the sheets and never wash anything without them. Others say they tried them and got dye stains anyway.
I decided to run my own informal test to see if the sheets are worth using.
I put a ColorCatcher sheet in the washing machine with some red fabric, a red scrap block, and a piece of mostly white polka dot fabric. The color catcher is the wrinkled white sheet on top of the red fabric. I used my quick wash cycle, which uses warm water, and put in a small amount of regular laundry detergent.
And here are my fabrics after I washed them with the Color Catcher sheet:
I inspected the white fabric carefully and saw no color bleeding on it at all. But the Color Catcher sheet had definitely picked up some red dye.
Conclusion: Worth a Try
Even avoiding a little bit of dye staining is enough for me to want to try using a sheet (or two) the next time I wash a multi-colored quilt. The anguish of color bleeding is more than enough motivation to try the sheets, even if they don’t always work.
I prewash most of my larger yardage. I would also try using the sheets when I prewash the fabric colors that experience tells me are likely to bleed: red, brown, dark blue, dark green, and black.