Ankara tops maintenance tips for long lasting Ankara

A woman wearing Ankara top and smiling

How do I maintain my ankara tops? This is a question many Nigerians ask. It is no news that most Ankaras start fading after 3 washes.

Ankara is one of those distinct outfits that distinguishes an African from the rest of other tribes. 

In the Nigerian setting, it is somewhat difficult today to pass one out of fifty Nigerians without finding at least one on an Ankara outfit which makes one ask, what is so special about the Ankara fabric?

Also, some Nigerians have taken the idea of representing Africa in Western countries by wearing Ankara.

Almost everyone should be able to attest that Ankara materials look great. But lest we forget, it is one thing to own a piece of Ankara fabric and another thing to know how to maintain it.

One of the many reasons for not purchasing Ankara materials is that they wear out quickly. Compared to other quality shirts of the same price range.

Even though Ankara does fade, there are some basic rules to follow to retain the colour of your Anakra and extend the lifespan of its beauty.

How To Stop The Fading Of Your Ankara Tops

Once you understand that the Ankara fabric itself during production was dyed using pigments dissolved in water and knowing equally well that this water can also dissolve the dye pigments off the fabric, you would consider the following guidelines seriously.

Avoid Washing Regularly.

Treat your Ankara materials as special all the time, owing that it is not your regular wear and as such, it will always wash like some other fabrics of light quality. When you engage in frequent washing, the rate at which it fades will increase. Sometimes, when it is clear that washing is not needed, you should take it out to the sun for airing, and if you can afford a wardrobe full of different Ankara materials, it would go a long way in creating gaps of time that would reduce the regular repetition of single Ankara wear.

Avoid Contact With Hot Water 

Dye dissolves more easily in hot water than in cold water. So, by using hot water on your fabric, you not only kill the germs on the fabric but also do more harm than good to your fabric. 

Initially, you may feel that you are just killing germs without knowing that you are destroying the colour dyes of the Ankara fabric back into the hot water. HOt water simply contributes to the faded look. It is advisable we use cold water for washing our ankara tops.

Do Not Use Detergent

Soap is made of natural biodegradable materials, mainly fats, and oils.

The traditional detergent mixture has the presence of chemicals referred to as synthetic materials that are not so friendly to the colours on your fabric. To understand this better, try washing your hands with the regular detergent and observe how long your palm keeps foaming even after rinsing it severally. 

The same thing happens to your Ankara tops after washing with detergents. They are hard to rinse off totally, and this keeps being active thus making your fabric fade quickly.

Turn Your Clothes Inside Out Before Washing Before Washing Totally.

The fabric may lose its colour to the water due to pressure from scrubbing the cloth and the soap. 

Reduce sunlight exposure

Sunlight is a natural and swift way of drying your washed clothing, but the ultraviolet rays from the sun, coupled with the direct heat, can fade your fabric colors. Think of it as a 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.

Adding Salt Before Washing

This may sound shocking but the fact remains that adding 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 it from foaming excessively.

Avoid Squeezing After Drying

Normally, after handwashing items of clothing, we squeeze them to get rid of water in the fabric and make them dry faster; to preserve the quality of our ankara, it is best advisable not to engage in squeezing after washing. 

Squeezing your Ankara clothing is a quick way of draining out the dye pigment and wiping out the patterns on the fabric as one color might sip into another, creating a mess to the fabric.


A pack of ankara tops

Original ankara fabrics made from cotton absorb water easily. You can try to check how original an Ankara is by putting a drop of water on your Ankara fabric; if it absorbs water then it is of good quality. 

However, if the drop of water floats for a while, then it might not be the best quality of Ankara fabric.


Someone using a washing machine

Ankara or African wax can be washed with a washing machine, but one must be very careful. 

Wash with cold water on the gentle cycle and skip the spin cycle. 

Make use of very mild soap, and don’t forget to turn the colour of your clothing inside out before putting it on the machine. 

If you use a washing machine for your Ankara clothing, ensure you don’t tumble dry them.

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