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Colour run removers and how to remove dye from clothes

Don't worry if colours have run in the wash, your clothes can be saved! This article explains the best ways to remove dye from clothes.


colour run: white washing basket on marble floor with pink towels and red sock

Key Steps

Avoid and correct colour run in your wash by: 

  • Separating clothes by colour before washing them. Read our article on how to do laundry for more guidance on this.
  • Washing new clothes, or those more prone to colour run (like red items), on their own. This is will remove any existing dye which could run in a normal wash.
  • Tackling colour run stains immediately. The longer you leave it, the harder it will be to remove. If all your efforts don't manage to restore your clothes then why not embrace the dye stain by learning how to tie dye your own clothes at home instead!

You try so hard to avoid it whenever you do your laundry, yet it somehow seems to inevitably happen from time to time. When colours run in the wash, it’s important to know how to remove dye run from clothes so you won’t be stuck with that pink shirt or baby blue underwear forever.

Don’t worry if colour has run in your wash! Do not dry the clothing before you have attempted to remove the colour run. Heat can set the stain so for the best results act fast to treat the dye stain and wash again.

First Aid for a Colour Run in the Washing Machine

You’ve just removed your laundry from the washing machine, ready to pop it in the dryer – when you notice the dye bleeding. Don’t panic – if you act quickly, you should be able to get rid of the colour run with very little hassle.

Identify the source of the colour bleeding, put it aside, and throw the affected clothes right back into your washing machine – if you haven’t accidentally dried your laundry, chances are, the colours aren’t set yet and a repeat wash will be able to lift the excess dye.


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What to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Colour Run Remover

If you’re opting for bleach to get rid of the unwanted colour, it is crucial to choose a non-chlorine, oxygen-based bleach which is colour-safe to add to your regular liquid or powder detergent when you are rewashing your clothes to get rid of the colour run in the wash. Take care when handling bleach; always follow the safety guidelines listed on the product and wear protective gloves to avoid contact with skin.

Alternatively, simply add a cup of white vinegar to your laundry load and wash your laundry again as usual, using very hot water if suitable for the fabric – this time hopefully without any bleeding accidents.

How to Handle Stubborn Stains

If your clothing has been stained heavily, your best bet is to soak the item in a solution of water and bleach suitable for the fabric, before attempting to wash it again.

Follow the instructions for the bleach to make sure you won’t damage your fabric, and let it soak for up to ten hours. Repeat if necessary, before throwing the clothing in the laundry again.

You can also attempt to treat the stain with lemon juice – it is much more gentle to the fabric and the environment than bleach. Commercial colour run removers are also an option; they are usually used to let the garment soak in, removing the excess colour. Always make sure to purchase one suitable for your type of fabric.

Originally published