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How to get colour run out of clothes

Left a red sock in the wash? Don't stress: here's how to remove colour run from white or multicoloured clothes, and how to stop colours running next time.

Updated By Cleanipedia Team

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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 will remove excess dye which would run in a normal wash.

  • Tackling colour run stains immediately. A key tip for how to fix colour run? Start ASAP: 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 might think you know exactly how to stop colours running in the wash, but every now and again a stray red sock or new pair of jeans will inevitably slip under the radar. That's why it's always useful to know how to remove colour run stains from clothes, with home remedies and a few hero products, so you won’t be stuck with that pink shirt or baby blue underwear forever.

Heat can set stains and make figuring out how to remove colour run from clothes much harder, so never tumble dry stained clothes. Instead, act fast to treat the dye stain with your colour run remover or home remedy and wash again.

How to get colour run out of clothes

If it's too late for prevention, here's the cure. Knowing how to remove colour run from white or multicoloured clothes means there'll be no need to stress out even when you've turned a set of cricket whites into cricket pinks.

  1. 1. Don't put them in the dryer!

    The high heat of a tumble dryer will set any colour run stains from the laundry cycle. It'll be so much easier to figure out how to get colour run out of clothes if you've managed to spot colour run before popping them in the dryer... but if that warning came all too late, don't despair! Skip to step 3.

  2. 2. Remove the source of the colour run, and re-wash the stained clothes

    Dig out that red sock troublemaker, put it aside, and throw the affected clothes right back into your washing machine – if you haven’t dried your laundry, chances are, the colours aren’t set yet and a repeat wash will be your simple answer to how to get rid of colour run, ASAP.

  3. 3. For stubborn stains, treat with a colour run remover

    If your clothing has been stained heavily, your best bet is to soak the item in a colour run remover that is suitable for the fabric, before attempting to wash it again.

  4. 4. How to remove colour run stains from clothes with home remedies

    If you don't have a good colour run remover, a home remedy can also work well for shifting stubborn colour stains.

    Try adding a cup of distilled white vinegar to a bowl of cold water and soaking the stained area. Be sure to test a small area of the clothing first to check it won’t be affected by the vinegar. Then wash again as normal. If you prefer, you could also swap the white vinegar here for lemon juice, still patch testing on the fabric first.

  5. 5. Wash again and dry!

    Once you're satisfied with the results of your colour run treatment, put the clothes back in the machine for another wash. Check if the stains have completely gone and then (and only then), hang them up to dry or pop them in the tumble dryer.

How to stop colours running in the wash

You've (hopefully) managed to lift the stains with your colour run remover or home remedy treatment, but you probably aren't in a hurry to do the whole thing again after your next laundry load. Here's how to prevent colour bleeding next time!

  1. 1. Wash colours and whites separately

    The simplest answer to how to stop colour bleeding from clothes onto the rest of the laundry load? Separate your whites from your dark or brightly coloured items before doing laundry, and wash similar colours together as much as possible.

  2. 2. Be extra careful when washing new clothes

    It's harder to master how to stop colour bleeding from clothes that you've newly purchased, as the dye might not be fully set before the first wash. If you have any new garments in strong colours, you may want to wash these with similar colours only or hand-wash them the first time you wash them.

  3. 3. Double-check your clothes before tumble drying them

    Yes, we've said it before; but sticking to this rule will save you and your clothes some heartache. A spin in a hot tumble dryer can set stains into clothes for good. Instead of tipping your laundered clothes straight into the tumble dryer, check all the items for residual stains or colour run to see if you need to give them another wash first.

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Now you have some easy-to-follow tips for how to get colour run out of clothes (and how to stop the colour bleeding from clothes in the first place), you won't have to spend the next month in baby-pink shirts.

Read other articles from the Clothing Care category

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Originally published