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How to remove stains from coloured clothes

Indulge in a little colour therapy with our tips on how to remove stains from coloured clothes.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

different coloured clothes hanging on clothes rack with yellow background

Clothes in different colours of the rainbow are instant mood-boosters, perfect if you want to stand out or show off your personality. However, these special items require an equally special level of care to avoid dullness, fading, or colour run in the wash.  

Luckily, it’s all made easy with these little secrets on how remove a stain from coloured clothes – including answers to common questions like how to remove rust, oil, and sweat stains from coloured shirts.

If your coloured item is brand new, always wash it separately. Never-washed clothes contain the highest concentration of dye and are more likely to bleed.

How to get stains out of coloured clothes: general tips

Your favourite piece has caught a stain, now what? Don’t panic! Before rushing to the washing machine, it pays to first assess the situation. These questions will help you determine the extent of the problem, and how to proceed.

1. What type of fabric is your clothing made from?

Checking your clothing labels is a must before every wash. If your item is made of a strong, easily washable fabric like cotton or polyester, you can safely rely on at-home methods to clean it.

Here are some universal tips for how to get stains out of coloured clothes:

  • Turn clothes inside out before putting them in the washing machine to protect them.

  • Choose the gentlest washing setting possible.

  • Wash your coloured clothes in cold water, no higher than 30°C.

  • Remove your clothes from the washing machine immediately after the cycle is complete and hang them to dry. This will prevent any colours from transferring and avoid musty odours.

When it comes to extremely delicate items marked as ‘dry clean only’ (check the label for a circle with a letter “P” inside it), it’s better to save yourself the hassle and visit a professional.

2. What colour fabric is your item?

All clothes should be washed with similar colours to avoid colour run. Red clothes are notorious for colour run so only wash them with other reds, oranges, yellows, or purples.

3. What kind of stain is on your fabric?

First - is the stain brand new or has it been sitting on your item for months? For fresh stains, act immediately by flushing the stain with water and popping the item in the wash. For old stains, pre-treat them with a stain remover before washing your clothing. Try to avoid letting stained clothes dry before all marks have been removed – wet stains are much easier to treat.

Finally, what’s caused the stain? The methods for tackling marks will vary depending on their origin. Read our stain guide below for guidance on some of the most common coloured clothes stains.

How to get stains our of coloured clothes: stain removal guide

Find methods for removing 3 of the most common clothing stains – sweat, rust, and oil –below.

1.  How to get sweat stains out of coloured shirts and clothes

While unattractive yellow sweat marks are all too familiar to white clothes wearers, they are just as likely to affect your more colourful pieces.

  • Vinegar is your best friend when learning how to get sweat stains out of coloured shirts, tops, and clothes.

  • Soak your item in a large bowl filled with 1-part white vinegar and 1-part water for 30 minutes.

  • Wash with a strong detergent like OMO to finish.

2.  How to remove rust stains from coloured clothes

You might be surprised to find out that the secret to removing rust stains can hide in the fresh produce aisle.

  • Use rhubarb to remove rust stains.

  • Fill ½ large pot with water, add rhubarb stalks, and boil for 20 mins.

  • Remove the stalks and take your pot off the heat.

  • Soak your garment in the rhubarb water until the stain is gone.

  • Wash your item as normal to remove any traces of rhubarb.

3. How to remove oil stains from coloured clothes

Used to prepare pretty much every meal, delicious oils often become responsible for accidental stains and require swift action.

  • The best solution for oil stains is liquid dishwashing detergent.

  • Apply a few drops to the stain without water.

  • Gently rub it into the stain and leave to soak for 5 minutes.

  • Rinse with warm water and clean in the washing machine as normal.

As you can see, learning how to remove a stain from coloured clothes isn’t as hard as it seem. Wear your favourite pieces with pride and don’t allow any stains to stand in your way

Safety Warning

Before you use any new method or product, test it on a small area first to avoid damaging the fabric.

Originally published